Do you care how much battery life your phone has? No, do you really care? You have a spreadsheet set up in Google Slides documenting your experience over the past few weeks. You can recall at a whim the amount of screen on time you've experienced on every Android device you've owned since Gingerbread. You don't get mad at your hardware when it dies at 4PM—you blame those wakelocking S.O.B apps. Read More
Remember that time you were super jazzed about Hangouts 4.0, and when it finally came out, it wasn't that great? How about when v5.0 began its rollout, and it was basically the same thing, but with working animated GIFs? Version 5.1 is now making its way out into the world, but if you weren't happy with the previous releases, you're probably not going to be too thrilled with this one. It looks like a relatively light bug fix update, and nothing more.
It's probably no coincidence that a v5.1 update was also just released on the iOS App Store with a very sparse changelog. Read More
It has been a busy month for Google. Marshmallow was officially released, YouTube finally has the subscription service we've been asking for, and some new Nexus phones are shipping. Also on the docket for this month was a new version of the Play services apk. A couple of weeks ago, v8.2.98 began rolling out to a short list of handsets. It was followed a few days later by a .99 release, and then another minor bug fix pushed it up to v8.3.00. There hasn't been a blog post to discuss new features or APIs, which is a bit unusual, but there are a few interesting bits in the apk waiting to be seen. Read More
Remember Samsung's Smart View app? It's OK if you don't - it's basically a mix of a remote control and some Chromecast-style functionality, exclusively for use with both Samsung phones/tablets and Samsung smart televisions. It's the kind of cross-platform"synergy" that gets a lot of play in press releases and on-stage product reveals, but is rarely used by actual customers. The app listing in the Play Store is plagued with negative reviews complaining of frequent bugs and infrequent updates.
Samsung is apparently ready to start over, and I mean that literally: the new version of Smart View gets a completely separate listing from the older app (which is still available to download at the time of writing). Read More
Google Keep received a seemingly minor update this week, bringing the version number up from v3.2.354 to v3.2.415. There aren't any visible new features or even any particularly notable changes, but that doesn't mean the only changes are bug fixes. A teardown shows that Keep is due to receive its own built-in drawing mode so users can easily record their own doodles, scribbles, and sketches. Additionally, users will be able to annotate imported images like photos and screenshots. Read More
Browsers are a core part of the mobile phone experience, but I don't find them particularly exciting. I do with my browser largely what I did ten years ago: open it up, go to a URL, and scroll through the page that appears. I don't really use bookmarks or search predictions, though combining the search and location bars together was pretty nice. Custom search engines are fun too.
I say this to convey my general apathy towards covering the updates that come to web browsers. But the latest beta version of Chrome comes with changes that even folks like me will have a hard time ignoring—things we've already highlighted before when they appeared in Chrome Dev, such as a snackbar that now appears at the bottom of the screen when you complete a download. Read More
Not everybody is into live streaming gameplay, but for those that are, and particularly those that play a lot of games on Android, this week's update for YouTube Gaming was a pretty big deal. It brought much-needed support for recording and live broadcasting your screen directly to YouTube. While the update is significant for the features we now have, it also happens to include some signs for a few more things we can expect in the future. We can see a few of YouTube's newer features are going to hop over to the gaming side, including background playback, offline playback, and even Cardboard support. Read More
Yesterday brought a brand new update to the Play Store, bringing the version up to 5.10.29. There are some new UI elements, even if most of us aren't allowed to see them yet, and we can now copy text from the what's new and description sections. Naturally, Google included a few hidden tricks and treats just waiting to be discovered. We can expect to see books organized by series, apps described with size, and some friendlier welcome and exploration messages.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.