Over the last few weeks, we've heard of a feature popping up for Google Play Music All Access users here and there (thanks for the tips!), whereby the app or web interface would link users to relevant music videos inside the app. When listening to or browsing music, the app would show a YouTube icon, sometimes in the center of the screen, sometimes weirdly positioned in the "now playing" bar. It was clear Google was still testing the feature but it looks like now, with the publication of an official change log for Play Music's latest update, Google may be flipping the switch on a wider basis.
Google's Finance app is in desperate need of attention. If you haven't checked in on it lately, it's still stuck with Gingerbread design. No seriously, go look. Tiny header bars, legacy menus, odd layouts, and assets that look tiny or pixelated (or both) on today's high resolution devices.
Just for fun, I decided to take a look at the app and see if I could give it a fresh coat of paint, inspired by material design.
SoundHound is one of the apps you can use to recognize those songs you hear playing in the background, whether it's in a commercial or in a department store. Now its developers are bumping things up to version 6.3 and giving everything a spiffy new look.
The interface above will probably look similar across platforms.
Overall, everything is still dark and looks generally SoundHound-y, but stuff has moved around a bit to make music more discoverable.
Months ago, we posted a rumor about "modular actions" set to come to Google's Search app (now just called Google) along with "Ok Google Everywhere" functionality that would allow users to activate search from anywhere on their device. The latter has already been implemented, but Google is still inching toward the former. With the technically unreleased Google app, the search interface can overlay apps from which it is called, but Google today announced another step forward - the ability to let apps hook into search by accepting voice queries from the user.
Looking for a parking spot can get frustrating regardless of where you live, but it's particularly annoying in the heart of urban areas where not just parking spots, but parking lots, are difficult to come by. The new CitySpot app for Google Glass can help with this. Without taking their eyes off the road, drivers can turn to it to find nearby parking.
CitySpot starts by pulling up your location before looking for the nearest parking lot and running it by you.
We've already seen about a half-dozen Google apps leaked in a Nexus 6 system dump, but we haven't taken a look at Google Drive yet. The app does have some material design in store though - as with the others - it's still in testing, so anything could change. That said, it's worth taking a look. Google Drive has implemented many of the new material design paradigms that make the app cleaner, leaner, and easier to use.
When it comes to pushing pixels and providing deeply immersive experiences, consoles have a leg up over Android devices. But this doesn't mean that phones or tablets don't have a role to play in couch-based gaming. Xbox One SmartGlass users can turn to the Android app as a way to manage their Xbox account and interact with others without having to back out of their game.
An update has rolled out to the SmartGlass app, which is still in beta, that gives users a place to highlight their best game clips, show off their achievements, or share their location.
Have you gotten tired of these app walkthroughs yet? Well, we have one more for right now - Google Play Books. The update to Google Play Books that we're looking at here is - like everything else - pre-release, meaning things could change a little or a lot before the app is actually released. But what we're seeing so far is a minor nudge for the app, bringing it into line with the rest of Google's apps.
Next up on our tour of (yet unreleased) Google app redesigns is Google Calendar. We actually got a glimpse of this redesign way back in April when Geek.com originally leaked the app as it was then. Since then, it seems that not a ton has changed, but we can get a more complete look at the app as it stands now.
Google wants its calendar app to be all about smartness.
Early this morning, we took a quick look at the onboarding video/process for Google's impending update to Gmail 5.0. The critical feature shown off in the video was the ability to handle all your email providers in one app, meaning users could access Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and others all from Google's singular Gmail app.
We've since learned that - besides handling the providers above - Gmail will support Exchange mail, and it appears Gmail will obviate the stock Email app entirely, prompting users to go directly to the Gmail app instead of dealing with a separate solution.