Google has just launched a new email system, but you can only get on in by requesting an invitation or being sent one from a friend. No, it's not 2004, it's Google's new Inbox system, an alternative to Gmail and a new way to look at electronic messaging in general. We've highlighted the new system before its official release, but now you can get it for yourself... if you're lucky enough to get through the invitation system.
Google has been working on Inbox as "Project Bigtop" for years. In the new system, messages are treated like tasks in a to-do list: the system automatically groups messages into "bundles" based on their content and your own filters.
Google's walk/run tracker app, My Tracks, doesn't get updated terribly often, but when it does, there is usually something worth reporting. This most recent update is no exception, as it now offers Android Wear support and some changes to the way sharing works.
Unfortunately, Android Wear support does not mean that you can use the app on the watch alone, independent of the phone. Since Android Wear devices don't yet support GPS, it's basically impossible to have a functioning version of this app on a watch alone. Think of this, instead, as a very useful remote control. You can start, stop, and pause your walk or run, as well as view your progress, right from your watch without having to take your phone out of your pocket.
Update: Aaaaaaand it's live. You can download the latest version of Netflix here. It looks like it's on a slow rollout, so don't be surprised if you can't get it right it away.
Enhanced integration with Chromecast, including a new "Post-play" experience to easily continue watching at the end of TV episodes.
Confession: I watched four 90-minute episodes of Sherlock in a single sitting, thanks in no small part to Netflix's auto-advancing "Post-Play" feature on the web. It's that little pop-up interface that automatically goes to the next episode in a TV series if you don't press anything.
RoboForm is a popular password manager and form-filling service on the desktop, but its Android edition has felt a little behind the times as of late. That changes with the 4.05 update, which adds the ability to fill in tedious form info on any app on your phone or tablet. It's especially useful since the (paid) RoboForm Everywhere feature will sync all your information with the extension on your computer. No more hastily trying to remember the password for the HBO Go account you "borrowed."
Previously, RoboForm needed its own rather clunky browser to fill in all the relevant information, which is obviously not an ideal solution.
For anyone who likes a nice structured itinerary for their weekend Vegas bender, TripIt is a handy app that combines flight, public transit, hotel, and restaurant info in to a tight little scheduling interface. And to make said interface even more tight, TripIt has revised the UI in the latest build. Well, at least some of the UI - from what we can tell, you'll only see the spiffy new blue-tinted screens if you're using a phone. Tablets default to the older UI, which admittedly seems to make a better use of the larger screen.
If Facebook's 19 billion dollar deal to buy WhatsApp didn't convince you that messaging apps are big business, then... well, this probably won't convince you either, but you'll be even more wrong. Tango Messenger, a solid entry in the crowded text chat market, has been given a huge investment by a group of companies including China's Alibaba.com. Alibaba invested a whopping $215 million, with an extra $65 million coming from previous Tango investors. The total capital raised to date for Tango is $367 million.
Alibaba is sort of the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. The company started as a business-to-business marketplace, but has since expanded into just about every aspect of consumer shopping and online services, including purchasing what was left of the Chinese arm of Yahoo.
Everyone panic! The HBO app is no longer listed in the Google Play Store! Game of Thrones starts in three weeks, how are we going to - wait, what's that? HBO Go is still there? Oh, it's the other HBO app that's gone. The one that doesn't stream episodes and movies. The one that no one uses. Well that's all right, then.
Yes, HBO fans, you can rest easy: nothing is happening to HBO Go, the cable service's streaming app that's free for subscribers. The previous HBO app, which featured a television schedule and various behind-the-scenes goodies, seems to have been un-published.
Good news, Mozilla fanatics: the updates that hit the beta channel of Firefox's Android browser back in November are now ready for prime time. Version 26 was uploaded to the Play Store today, complete with some notable interface changes and a few under-the-hood tweaks as well. The browser is free as always, and it's compatible with Android devices running 2.2 or later.
The biggest user-facing change is to the home screen, which is now tabbed Holo-style. Quick swipes to the right will let you see your most-visited sites, history, bookmarks, and reading list. You can also pin tabs to the homepage, a nice bit of desktop functionality that's made it across the mobile divide.
There's been a quiet trend among user interface augmentations as of late: the swipe-out app and menu bar. SwipePad is probably the progenitor (and still my go-to app), and we've featured a handful of interesting alternatives, but Edge: Quick Actions deserves special attention. This little app has managed to outdo Google itself by making the Recents function (the right-most button on the default navigation configuration) obsolete.
How so? Instead of tapping a button and then tapping the app you want to switch to, Edge embeds the last five open apps into a quick-firing mini-launcher that comes across the screen as a ribbon.