It looks like the "OK, Google" search hotword has now become a standard feature for advanced Android launchers. Nova Launcher added the search function in its 3.0 update earlier this month, and now its biggest competitor, Apex, has followed suit. Users who are on Android 4.4 can enable the voice-activated search function in Apex Launcher 2.4. Earlier versions, sadly, cannot access the functionality - you'll have to search with your fingers like some kind of sad troglodyte.
Did the world need another music streaming service back when Samsung unveiled Milk Music in March? That's not the point. If you happen to own a Galaxy device (and with them selling by the truckload, there's a good chance that you do), then this exclusive service is well worth a look. Now the company is bringing Milk Music to the big screen by opening up the app to a handful of tablets.
HTC packages an IR blaster into its high-end phones and ships a dedicated app that taps into the hardware. HTC Sense TV, as the app is called, doesn't just change channels, it sucks show listings out of cable boxes and crams them onto smartphone screens. An update has recently rolled out support for Indian TV guides. Indian-based blog Razzil has shared some screens of this beta feature in action.
Lynda.com likes to teach people things, and it prefers to do so using moving pictures. So like any video-centric Android app worth its salt, it's now introducing Chromecast support. This way viewers can take those course videos and toss them up onto a larger screen than the one resting on their laps.
It takes a certain amount of discipline to soldier through multiple course videos, so having the option to sit back and relax is a pretty big deal.
The first major update to the Beats Music app since Apple bought the company two weeks ago is now rolling out to Android devices. This release, version 1.1, addresses some areas that previously revealed just how young a piece of software this is. For starters, the app now supports landscape mode. Go ahead, turn your phone sideways and see what happens. Better yet, fire Beats up on a tablet.
In addition to that, people listening in offline mode can now save music to an SD card.
The Logitech Harmony Android app has received an update to version 3.3 that enables users to take control of their Sonos wireless HiFi sound systems from the comfort of their Android devices without having to switch back and forth between apps. The software should work from anywhere in the home and gives users control over volume, tracks, and playlists. It will also work with Amazon's spiffy Fire TV.
This provided screenshot comes from an iPhone, but the Android UI shouldn't look too different.
Yahoo property Flickr doesn't have the most advanced Android app around, but it's slowly adding features from the popular website into its mobile interface. The recent upgrade from 3.0.3 to 3.1 brings a handful of changes, most notably the ability to share full albums directly from the app. You can now send initiations over Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr (of course), or old-fashioned email and text messages.
If you're an administrator on one of Flickr's photo groups, you can now invite other people to add their photos to the pool from within the app.
The folks over at TeslaCoil have been hard at work. Just a week or so after testing a ton of small but significant changes in the 3.0 beta release of the popular Nova Launcher, they've expanded them to the full Play Store version. Check out our breakdown of some of the more significant additions for more details. But there's one more trick up its sleeve for the general release: the "OK Google" hotword.
In addition to substantial updates to the Android Device Manager and Chrome Beta yesterday, Google Maps is getting an adjustment as well. The new version (8.1) revives the Terrain Mode view, which lets you easily see the various elevation changes in surrounding hills, mountains, and valleys. (Terrain Mode was removed in Maps 7, for some reason.) There are also a few user interface changes to the various navigation screens. It's a small update compared with the the full 8.0 bump from earlier this month, but there are still some useful additions.