It's Update Wednesday again, and Google is firing on all cylinders. We've seen updates for both Android Wear and the companion app, Chromecast, Cardboard (who saw that coming?), and many more. Google Wallet also found its way onto the list with a few changes to its organization and styling. It started rolling out today, but we've got the latest version ready to download right now.
A post on Google+ earlier today calls out the most significant change for this version, which brings together gift cards, loyalty programs, and offers into a single link on the navigation drawer. Read More
Back when we first took a look at the design initiative that would become "material design," we noted that Google planned to update apps incrementally, with changes happening over an unspecified period of time, until they'd evolved to full compliance. A couple of months ago Hangouts began its journey, but to many the app still doesn't feel quite up to par. A messy, improperly-layered drawer, lack of some familiar actions from the app's previous iteration, and of course no revised launcher icon are a few complaints begging for resolution. Read More
A few months ago Google purchased the developer of the impressive WordLens app, which translates text and signs from another language into your own simply by pointing your camera at it. The text appears in your language through the lens, as if you had super-powered Translate-O-Vision. As with Waze and Google Maps, it looks like Google's own Translate app will soon see the benefit of that acquisition. Check out the screenshots below, taken from an upcoming version of Google Translate. Read More
Something I loved after signing up with Simple Bank was that the app offered super quick account access - once you signed in with a pass phrase, you needed only to enter a PIN to get to your account. It seems that Chase has (at last) found a way to provide at least a quick glimpse into your account.
While it doesn't provide full account access, Chase's latest update does give users the option to opt in to a pre-login account summary, where a simple gesture will give an overview of your account, without needing to enter your password and wait for the login to compete. Read More
Since the recent update to MX Player, many users are running into a new problem: there's no sound in certain videos. It turns out the latest release of the popular video player removed support for two audio codecs: AC3 and MLP. Unfortunately, it seems this is a result of licensing issues, meaning MX Player will no longer ship with built-in support to play these audio formats. However, there is a simple workaround that will get things working again with relatively little hassle. Read More
You may not be able to tell from the product icon (update: B&H has issued another update with a new icon, seen above) but B&H, purveyor of everything photo, video, and audio, has updated its app with tons of material-inspired elements.
Apparently inspired by Google's new design direction, the company's app is now jam-packed with illustrations, material-inspired transitions, vivid colors, and cards.
The app's approach to organizing information swings in both directions - the home page serves up a huge, colorful illustration, along with bright promotional cards and shortcuts (along with a search FAB). Read More
Update: The app has been removed from the Play Store. Good job, Google/Sony/users who flagged the app.
Oh dear. The folks at XperiaBlog got a nasty shock when checking the My Apps section of the Play Store on an Xperia Z3: the Backup & Restore app (a default application pre-installed on the phone) seems to have been compromised. A Play Store page has been added for the app, and now shows "Nirav Patel Kanudo" as the publisher. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More