Google's default keyboard has gotten really good, to the point that it's hard to actually charge for a keyboard app even if it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Just like SwiftKey last year, Fleksy has now gone free in the Play Store (and Amazon Appstore). Instead of paying an upfront price, there are themes and extensions that you can purchase if you so choose.
Disney has an unstoppable marketing machine at its disposal, and there's a new Star Wars movie coming out later this year. You can probably see where this is going. Yes, there's a new Star Wars app from Disney that aims to get you all hot and bothered for the new film. It's actually kind of neat, though.
The interface can be themed as light side, dark side, or a neutral droid scheme.
Googler Kirill Grouchnikov likes to show off the little UI flourishes in the Play Store, sometimes even before they are live for users. We like the small stuff, and you probably do too. So you'll be happy to know there are two subtle UI tweaks incoming with the next Play Store update. One is in the kids "character" section and the other is in the What's New box we all know and love.
I'm going to assume that most of our readers have used Pushbullet, or at least have a general idea how it works. Hooks is a new app that offers a more configurable version of Pushbullet channels so you can get notifications when any number of things happens on the internet. So take Pushbullet, add a dash of IFTTT, and you've got Hooks.
Action Launcher is getting an update as we speak with a completely new feature. It's called the Quickbar, and it finally puts that search bar on the home screen to good use. In v3.5 you can add your own shortcuts and custom actions to the bar for easy access.
Google really wants you to know that voice searches are a thing, so it's taken to rolling suggestions out to some users in the home screen search bar. We covered that the other day, but since then we've gotten a few tips that similar messages are appearing inside the Google app itself. See for yourself.
Mapping and navigation app Waze is trying something new, and as with many new things, you need to start small. So the Google-owned company is starting with commuters in the Gush Dan region of Israel. If you need a lift to work, just grab the new RideWith app and another Waze user can pick you up on the way.
There are millions of smartphones out there with the processing power to get real work done, but they spend most of their time idle. That's what you want for battery life, of course, but [email protected] offers a way to contribute some of those unused cycles for the greater good while your phone is on the charger. [insert Snapdragon 810 overheating joke here]
Microsoft is striving to be more experimental and branch out to other platforms with the Microsoft Garage project, which means we get some interesting stuff on Android. Not all of it is probably going to last, but hey, some good short-term fun. The latest app from the garage is Tossup, which can be used to gather opinions from your friends so you can make plans quickly and easily.