Most developers who use the Google Play beta program don't seem to make monumental changes, but Twitter is really taking the beta label seriously. A few weeks after rolling out a completely new UI to the beta app, Twitter has updated the interface substantially again. It's cleaner in some places, but less so in others.
Facebook's Android app isn't what you'd call a shining example of standards-based development, but it's been steadily improving for the last couple of years. A tipster who's using the latest Facebook Android beta sent us screenshots of what the next major iteration might look like. After resetting his account and being sent the relevant codes, our reader noticed two "code generator" entries in the app's slide-out menu. Tapping the first one shifted his app's UI considerably.
A beta release is, by definition, and unfinished product. They're not always perfect - that's kind of the point. So it is with the latest beta version of Chrome for Android: many users are reporting that the latest build available on the Play Store is unexpectedly and repeatedly causing their devices to reboot. Users on the official Chrome blog and the Chromium code hub are citing the problem on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 4.
More and more developers are taking advantage of the nifty new ability to start a semi-closed beta on the Google Play Store via Google+. The latest is TeslaCoil Software, makers of the customization tool WidgetLocker (among other things). If you want to try out the latest and possibly greatest version of WidgetLocker, just head for this Google+ Community and join in.
Joining the beta is quite simple. Once you join the community, click the Play Store link that's displayed on the page, go through the standard warnings and whatnot, and you'll be directed to a seemingly normal Play Store entry for the app.
If you're in Twitter's Android beta program, better grab the nearest Android device and check for updates. The official Twitter client has been updated with a completely new interface, and it's not the one leaked at the Samsung IFA event. This version has Android-style tabs, in-line media previews, hamburger navigation, and a proper action bar.
We've seen Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all turn to the Play Store to manage their beta programs, and while this is a great mechanism for handling unpolished software releases, most of us use our phones for more than making status updates, tweeting, and sending private pictures. There are other apps out there that it would be fun to have early access to, and web browsers rank high among them.
It's pretty easy to understand why typing isn't exactly an optimal experience on a smartphone. They are designed to fit in palms and come with virtual keys smaller than the fingertips used to press them. Tablets don't suffer from this problem, but they come with one of their own - a user can type speedily using the significantly larger keys, but resting their fingers on the screen for a mere second is all it takes to turn "superpower" to "sauerkraut," and suddenly that status update about whether America should get involved in Syria accumulates a different flood of Facebook comments than was expected.
Facebook started a beta testing program through the Play Store a while back, and if ever there was an app that needed some help from the community, it's Facebook. The newest update to version 3.7 brings a few notable additions, as well as a variety of bug fixes and tweaks.
BlackBerry announced back in May that it would make BlackBerry Messenger available for both Android and iOS devices this summer. The clock is ticking, as the season will come to a close in a matter of weeks. BBM is not yet available in the Play Store, but a video of the beta version running on Android has hit the wild. This is a working mirror, as the video has been pulled from the original site.
A week or two after Chromecast hit the streets, we started to see all kinds of unofficial applications for Google's HDMI streamer, many of which came from CyanogenMod Team member and ClockworkMod creator Koushik "Koush" Dutta. Now he's worked around the developer whitelist for Chromecast, allowing his app to be used on any Android device and with any Chromecast. He's calling it AirCast, and it's available for a test download now.