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.
Wow, it's been over three years since we wrote about the official app for Digitally Imported Radio, or as it's known in your URL bar, DI.FM. (Fare thee well, "Android Market.") This app lets you access 65 finely-tuned streaming music stations focusing on electronic music and similar genres. The update to version 1.5 lets you sign in with either Google+ or Facebook. You can still log in with an existing DI account, or create a new one sans social network.
Android Device Manager is already a great way to ensure you can locate, lock, or wipe your phone if you lose it. You can remotely access it from your tablet or any full computer, but what if you're out and about and don't have any spare technology handy, and no way to connect it? Google has delivered a solution in the form of the latest Android Device Manager update. Now any Android device with ADM can allow guests to log in, with full access to remote location, ringing, locking, and wiping.
Update Wednesday continues with yet another new apk. This time we're being treated to a regular version bump for Chrome Beta. The changelog isn't as dramatic as we've seen in previous updates to the browser, but it's hard to turn down improvements and bug fixes. The focus seems to be a little more on fine-tuning the experience as we should see smarter suggestions for text entry and improved text rendering on non-mobile optimized web sites.
BBC has just pushed the Go button on its big iPlayer redesign. Now an updated version of the app is available in the Play Store that introduces tweaks to the way users stumble across new things to watch. The changes are apparent on the home screen, where the refined focus on discovering content is apparent right from the go. There are also new pages for browsing channels and perusing through categories.
For my money, Nova Launcher is the best of the AOSP-style launchers available in Android. Developer TeslaCoil Software has consistently updated the launcher for the better part of three years, and one of the biggest updates is coming soon. Nova 3.0 won't add any earth-shattering changes, but there are a bunch of little changes that will thrill the customization-obsessed in small ways.
On the homescreen, you can now customize the text below shortcuts to a greater degree with color and shadow options, and widgets can now have individual padding settings.
Google's Text-to-Speech app isn't exactly one that grabs headlines, but it's certainly useful for those who rely on it. Today it gets a little more useful as Google has added a handful of languages for its speech output support. The latest update adds support for selecting and speaking text in Dutch, Polish, and Russian, and better support for at least some dialects of English spoken in India has been added as well.
There's not a whole lot that one company can do to make the hellish miasma of American air travel better, but bless them, Southwest Airlines is trying. The latest update to the company's official Android app tweaks the interface yet again (the second time in a year), and adds a mobile boarding pass to save you just in case you forgot to print it out on old-fashioned dead trees before leaving.