When we first discussed Google's effort to re-imagine interface design, it was expected that Google would release fresh designs in small steps, gradually easing its own apps into the new design language a few pieces at a time.
Inside an update that officially only contained stability improvements, Chrome Beta got one more lovely design element today - a beautiful build-out animation for the overflow menu. Readers who have taken a look at Google's new design spec will recognize the mechanics of the animation right off the bat - the menu appears in a sensible way, expanding from one origin point and building out menu items in a coordinated, predictable manner.
Microsoft recently launched a beta program for its OneNote Android app, and a couple weeks later we are now seeing the first update hit devices. It happens to include a number of noteworthy enhancements. Primarily, the debut beta update introduces the ability to take handwritten notes with either a fingertip or stylus, a natural progression for a note-taking app geared at touchscreen devices.
Joining this change are a number of formatting options letting users tweak fonts, text size, and word alignment.
Good grief, the developer behind the Wear Mini Launcher is certainly setting a rapid pace. The app has only been available for a couple of weeks and already it's seen a major update. Today you can download the Play Store beta version (after you've joined the Google+ community, bah) to try out the 2.0 release. The 2.0 update includes options for moving the swipe-in activation gesture to other screen positions.
Microsoft may have its own smartphone platform, but when so many Xbox gamers walk around with Android phones in their pockets, it would be a shame to ignore them (or their wallets). So the company has rolled out another update to its Xbox One SmartGlass beta app, and this one introduces the ability to purchase games and add-ons for the console remotely. It's a nice feature for people who have run out to buy an Xbox One with or without Kinect.
Auto-correcting keyboard Fleksy made headlines last month with its interesting support for Samsung's Gear 2 smartwatches, but don't let it be said that they're neglecting the standard Android app. Today the company is updating its unconventional keyboard to version 3.0, notably adding the "Fleksy Store" to the premium version. This store will offer themes for users to buy via in-app purchase. At launch (sometime this morning, US time) there will be six themes available, and anyone who's purchased the keyboard gets a free bonus theme.
There are ways to share your real-time location with people, but doing so typically requires some degree of hassle. People either have to predict how long they want to share their data with someone or manually remember to turn it off later. Google account holders can send a map via Hangouts every couple of minutes and experience some degree of success, but Jink looks like a more elegant solution. The app lets multiple people share their location with a few taps, and the connection will automatically end once everyone meets up.
Let's be clear about this: developers don't have any kind of obligation to update their apps for the Android L preview release. It's a preview - by definition, it's not ready for prime time, and developers shouldn't have to immediately treat it like consumer software. That said, it's nice to see that some have already begun to prepare for the full Android L release later this year. Even relatively large players like Twitter are getting in on the action.
BeyondPod has long been one of the top Android podcast managers, but it was definitely not tops in the looks department. The current version is okay, but it could use a fresh coat of paint. The new 4.0 beta is getting more than that, though. BeyondPod 4.0 has been rebuilt from the ground up with a completely new UI and a new name to go with it. BeyondPod is BeyondPod EVO now.
Pebble fans have been faithfully following each step of the breakout smartwatch since it set almost every Kickstarter record ever. While most of the big news has died down, that doesn't mean the development team is on a break. To speed up the process of getting new features and bug fixes out to eager users, Pebble is opening up an official beta channel through the Play Store. These betas are technically for the Pebble companion app, but since the app also installs firmware updates on the watch, it's likely that you'll be able to get in on all of the new features.
Ready wants to reinvigorate the part of your phone that, in ye olden days, was all that mattered. That's right, it wants to improve how you make phone calls. Rather than gutting out your home screen and replacing it with something quirky, it tackles your dialer instead.
The Ready developers have tasked themselves with making contacts easier to see and communicate with. The app does so by not only tweaking how contacts are presented, but by creating useful shortcuts as well.