Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon.
Google Drive and its host of specialized editors have been improving by leaps and bounds, this year. Over the last few months, we've seen big new features like drag and drop file management, Chromecast support, and much more. The latest update builds on top of the recently added drag and drop interface to give users even more ways to manage multiple files quickly. There is also an overhaul to the interface for selecting collaborators and viewers which makes the experience immensely better.
The family-oriented section of the Play Store is now offering up another free app of the week. When Google first started the giveaways, Daniel Tiger Daniel Tiger Grr-ific Feelings was the debut app. Toca Hair Salon 2 came next. This week we're looking at Dr. Panda & Toto's Treehouse.
The standalone Photos app was released to the public during last month's Google I/O conference, finally completing the separation with Google+ as rumors (and facts) had long suggested. While the new Photos app was widely accepted as an improvement in many ways, it also lacked many of the enhanced editing features that had made the old version so useful. Unfortunately, installing the standalone Photos app effectively hid access to the version built into Google+.
IFTTT updates DO come in sets these days. Though the developers separated DO Button, DO Camera, and DO Notes into individual apps, they tend to release new versions at around the same time so that none of them get jealous. Some of the latest changes are similar across the three DO apps, such as the inclusion of unlimited recipes. Other tweaks are unique. So let's pay attention to what the updates DO and see why each app is special in its own way.
Google gave us an update for YouTube a little early this week, bumping the latest version number up to v10.24. Aside from a few bug fixes, which we certainly won't complain about, the changes appear to be mostly cosmetic.
The fine engineers at Google have been hard at work with some cool new features to both the WebView package and Chrome for Android. Recent updates to the Chromium project have extended Contextual Search to tablets, and there is now partial support for the new text selection features introduced with Android M. Even the T-Rex easter egg game got a little bit better.
Contextual Search for tablets
If you've tried selecting text in Chrome on a phone recently, you've probably noticed a cool little popup at the bottom of the screen that acts as a shortcut to search for the selected term.
Music will generally sound better coming through the Sonos speaker system in your home than your phone or computer, so it's a no brainer that Spotify subscribers want to stream albums this way. Fortunately new features have found their way into the beta version of the Android app that make this a better experience.
A number of these additions help you find new content. Spotify Premium subscribers can now start radio stations from any artist or track and get recommendations based on the time of day. The app will also do its part to help you discover newly released albums, and access to charts lets you see what music is trending in various parts of the world.
Simple is a bank from the future (or the past, I guess), one that lacks physical branches and expects you to handle all of your transactions over the web from a PC or mobile device. After quite a wait, the Portland-based company has pushed out an update to its Android app that comes with enough visual tweaks to make the experience look Lollipop-friendly.
The previous version—which was already clean and, dare I say, simple—looked like a KitKat holdover.
An app called File Expert is probably going to be an expert at managing files. One would hope, anyway, and in this case, one probably wouldn't be disappointed. File Expert can move your files around, measure your storage space, organize content automatically, and keep track of apps. Now it can do all of these things while looking up-to-date. That's right, in version 7, File Expert goes material.
The user interface is now turquoise and white all over the place.