Google's Chrome development team regularly implements new APIs to extend the possibilities for web apps to behave more like their native counterparts. The most recent addition to the Chrome dev channel allows web developers to use Bluetooth to communicate with nearby hardware. This could be used for things like an online fitness tracker that gets data from a heart rate monitor or for a controller to drive a Sphero, all without installing a native app.
These things are possible with the new Web Bluetooth API. Still in the early stages of development, this allows a web application to query for Bluetooth devices based on their capabilities, then pass messages back and forth with little or no friction. Read More
A very long-awaited update to Google Fit began rolling out earlier this week, but it seemed to focus almost entirely on improvements to the Wear micro-app while the main app was all but ignored. As it turns out, that was a mistake. A fresh update to the app started rolling out yesterday and it brings the rest of the features that were intended for this release – and what a list of features they are.
Note: Everything here was about to be part of a teardown, but the update stole that thunder. Read More
Well, we know a big redesign is in store for Google Play (see here, here, here, and here), Read More
but today's 5.10.29 update doesn't actually include that.
A fresh update of Google Play Services is headed out to our Android hardware around the world. This brings the framework package up to v8.4 and actually carries a couple of user-facing changes for us to check out. There's nothing too big, which is pretty normal for a Play services update, but there are some nice visual touch-ups for Smart Lock and a new option in the Android Auto developer options. But that's not all, a teardown shows that we're getting much closer to family organization (yes, for family sharing) and app invites will finally become useful as they can finally be sent to the people that need them most – the people right next to us. Read More
Hey you! Yes, you, the Android fan who spent $650 to get a Nexus 6 the moment it became available, then felt somewhat disheartened when it started popping up for $300 or less, then heroically resisted the siren song of new devices from Huawei and LG! To reward your frugal self-control, Google is now allowing you to play with the camera user interface featured on the new Nexus phones without spending any money whatsoever! Ain't that great? Just don't ask about slow motion video or burst mode for stills, because your puny camera module can't handle it. Read More
It's been a while since we've seen a true update to Google Fit – about 6 months if you don't count a version that turned up in the final M Developer Preview. You might even say the app got a bit flabby over the summer. (Sorry.) The latest version began rolling out yesterday and it's featuring a couple of big changes for Android Wear, including a brand new watch face and a trainer mode to help you get in shape. The main app also went through a couple of changes, but they're nothing to get excited about. However, check back later for a pretty big teardown – some big things are happening. Read More
Google Photos is a way of spreading your photos from your device to the cloud. But the latest update isn't about getting your images on Google's servers. It's about deleting them. Read More
The Sony Z5 currently reigns as the king of smartphone camera quality according to DxOMark. I've had the opportunity to use a review unit as my daily driver for the past week, and I have been pretty impressed with the image quality thus far.
One thing that I hadn't liked, at all, was that Sony was still using the same clunky camera app that debuted with the original Sony Z. Seriously, five generations of devices all using the same cumbersome UI?
That changes today. The Japanese phone manufacturer has begun the roll-out of the major camera app update that they previewed back at IFA. Read More
With all of the activity surrounding YouTube Red, including a brand new YouTube Music app, it seems like a good time for a Play Music update. Version 6.1 just landed and aside from a mysterious new "Auto-offline" feature and a bit of cleanup in the Settings screen, it looks like a pretty typical bug fix release. However, the teardown tells a different story. It looks like this version also brings support for the recently announced family plans and Android Wear speaker support. As usual, we've also got a download link at the bottom if you can't wait for the apk to roll out to your account. Read More
Things are heating up for Android Wear lately. Earlier this week, a new version of the Android Wear companion app began rolling out to make preparations for the next OS update. There's now an update to the Google app in the Beta channel which follows up with some interesting changes of its own: a new Wear-specific app that places the Google Now stream into a distinct card on watches. A teardown also shows some interesting new experiments for continuous queries and text-to-speech. There's even a small tweak for the Google Now Launcher.
The Google Now Card
Views of the new Google Now card and the first page to the right. Read More