Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects...
The Google Glass team gave a little heads-up on Tuesday to let Explorers know that they could look forward to Wear-style notifications appearing right in front of their eyes. With the release of MyGlass 3.3 and XE 22, that promise has come true, and it's pretty awesome. As it turns out, more bits and pieces were hidden away, as well. After poking around inside of the apk, a few other upcoming features have revealed themselves.
As evidence mounts that the official release of Android L may be days away, Google began rolling out yet another update to Play services, just one week after the previous update. As it turns out, there's a bit more than just a new icon, a few UI tweaks, and the usual bug fixes. This version brings some finishing touches to a couple of features, no doubt getting them ready to launch alongside the next version of Android.
Back at Google I/O 2014, we learned about a pretty neat feature called Backdrop that gives your Chromecast a little more pizazz with localized weather, news, and photos. It turned out to be a bit of a tease, because Google waited until earlier today to actually enable it through an update to the Chromecast app for our phones. During the same presentation, another feature called "Guest Mode" was announced promising to allow visitors to cast from their devices to a Chromecast in the same room without being on the same Wi-Fi network.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Material Design was the driving force behind a Google+ update that began rolling out on Friday. But while there may be a newer look, there's very little to speak of in the department of functional changes. Naturally, I had to poke around to see if there were any surprises buried underneath the fresh coat of paint. As it turns out, there are a few things worth talking about. It's time for a Teardown!
A couple of days ago, Google began rolling out the latest version of its Play services apk to the massive audience of Android users around the world. This is a particularly special release for developers because it finally expands coverage of the Google Fit Preview SDK to those who either don't have a Nexus 5 or 2013 Nexus 7, or simply aren't willing to flash the last L Preview firmware onto them.
Last week, Google pushed out an update for Google Search, bringing the version number up to 3.6.13. While it added support for deep linking into apps and a few more of the bits to make hands-free operation a little more convenient, most people probably felt like they didn't get too much out of this update. As it turns out, we found one more addition that might interest a few more people.
A couple of days ago, Google fulfilled its obligation to prevent me from sleeping by releasing a stack of newly updated apps for me to examine. Some of them were pretty straight forward, like the latest version of Android Device Manager, and others turned out to be pretty mind-boggling. That's how the YouTube update turned out. The apk grew by 2 MB, and Google certainly packed in quite a bit, but many of the additions don't make much sense.
One last app came rolling in at the tail end of update Wednesday. This time, we've got a relatively small update to Android Device Manager, Google's answer for lost or stolen phones. The changelog hasn't been posted on the Play Store, but a quick teardown told us everything we needed to know. There's a new callback feature that makes contacting the owner a one-touch operation.