There seems to be quite a lot of movement happening behind the scenes at the Play Store - yesterday we discovered that Google Play Store gift cards and wishlist are getting prepped for launch, and today Google seems to have enabled those smart app updates that we've been salivating about since Google I/O.
Normally, when an update to an application comes out, the Play Store downloads it in full, which with large apps and slow connections can get quite painful (think 50MB+ sizes).
It's not quite live yet, but Google would like you to know that Google Maps 6.10 is on its way to handsets by the end of the day. "What's new for me, the public transit user?" I hear you ask. Quite a bit, in fact! First off, Google has announced that it now has data on more than one million transit stops worldwide, spread throughout almost 500 cities. In an effort to make that information more usable, the Transit Lines map layer can now me narrowed down to a single method of transportation.
Google has released an update to its social network app on Android today that should please Hangout enthusiasts both young and old. For starters, now you can join Hangouts on Air via your mobile device (like the one we use to broadcast our weekly podcast every Thursday at 8pm EST hint hint). This is fantastic news as Hangouts on Air are among the most useful application of the already-awesome Hangouts feature.
RealPlayer, one of the most well-known media playing solutions available for desktops, has received its own Android app, which came out of beta and hit version 1.0 (officially 0.0.1.0) today. In a press release, Scott Uomoto (SVP Consumer and Helix Divisions, RealNetworks) boldly stated that "this is the media player that people want."
Despite any preconceived notions you may have about RealPlayer, the official Android app already has overwhelmingly high ratings and a somewhat decent feature list – first off, RealPlayer can be used to centralize not just your music, but videos and photos as well.
Mapsaurus, released today by a developer team of the same name, is perhaps the new app to end all new apps. By pairing an interactive map of Google's Play Store with an intuitive UX, Mapsaurus takes app discovery to a new level – not just of ease, but also of convenience.
The app, which promises to help users "discover apps you never would have known to search for," can branch out an interactive web of apps and games based on apps you already have installed, curated subcategories, or general categories and function sets.
In a maneuver that the New York Times describes as "an effort to give economists, policy makers, business owners and citizens greater access to real-time data on the health of the nation's economy," the US Census Bureau recently released its America's Economy app to Google's Play Store.
The app, which is available in separate downloads for tablets and phones, gives users a quick look at a wide range of economic indicators, from business inventories to construction spending, homeownership rate, monthly wholesale, and a heaping handful of others.
Chase customers who use the bank's official Android app to stay on top of their banking on the go received an update recently, bringing the banking app up to version 2.7 and adding a few very handy enhancements.
Perhaps the most notable enhancement brought by the new update is the ability to scroll through up to 24 months of transactions related to Chase deposit accounts. The update also adds significant functionality for Chase Liquid customers (Liquid being the bank's reloadable ATM card service), including the ability to view account info, transfer money to your account, and use Chase QuickDeposit.
Script Kitty has actually been around for a while, but after receiving its 2.0 update last week, it's now a serious contender for one of those must-have apps (at least for anyone with an ssh-enabled server). I downloaded and set it up in a matter of a few minutes (including generating an RSA key for key-based auth and adding said key to a few Linux servers), and now have a stupid easy way of doing certain things very quickly without having to even resort to ConnectBot.
Splashtop is one of the leading pieces of remote desktop software, not to mention app of choice for NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang when he wants to play Skyrim on his tablet. Now, Splashtop 2 HD has hit the Play Store, bringing pinch-to-zoom support, a new interface, and a very attractive price tag of free, for the time being.
As of right now, the app is free on the Play Store, however Splashtop says that this deal will only be available "for a limited time." Now, according the Play Store rules, a developer cannot convert a free app into a paid app, so it's unclear just how this will work once the developer ends the free period.
We've been talking about Chameleon Launcher for a few months now, and despite getting off to a bit of a rocky start, the beta is now officially available for some testers and Kickstarter backers. I've spent the last several days playing with the launcher on a couple different tablets, and, despite the fact that it's still in beta, have been generally impressed.
For the unaware, Chameleon is a new type of launcher designed specifically for Android 3.0+ tablets.