The Google Cast app doesn't get much attention these days. It's the type of software that remains installed on our phones, but rarely opened since it is rarely needed any time other than to set up Wi-Fi on a Chromecast. Otherwise, it stays out of the way and doesn't need a lot of updates. Still, a seemingly minor version bump occurred last week and it might be giving away a couple of pretty interesting details about future plans for our favorite streaming dongles.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (application packages) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
Chromecast Audio is a very simple product, and that’s probably the best thing about it from a consumer’s standpoint. You plug it in to power and then into an audio output source like an A/V receiver or a powered speaker. The Chromecast Audio supports either standard stereo audio cables or optical via a mini-digital connector. From there, just open the Chromecast app and get the device set up on your Wi-Fi network. That’s it - you’re done.
Now, any cast-enabled device within a reasonable proximity of the Chromecast Audio can tell it to play audio, regardless of whether it is on your Wi-Fi network, just like Chromecast. Read More
Google Photos may have started as a part of Google+, but since splitting into a standalone product, it has to move quickly to introduce new features and improvements to keep users engaged. The latest update to v1.5 didn't bring any visible changes to the app, but it does include evidence of some interesting changes we can look forward to in upcoming releases. Read More
YouTube updates have been rolling out about every week or two for the last couple of months. Most of the changes haven't been very big, but they're polishing up little aspects of the app in notable ways. The latest version bump doesn't bring significant modifications, either, but it's continuing the trend of small but visible changes. A permanent Cast button has been placed in the action bar and there are updated icons in the privacy selector for uploads. A quick teardown also reveals that we might finally be able to choose to download just the audio track for offline playback, which should make it much easier to store music for the road. Read More
Toddlers deserve teardowns too! Ok, maybe teardowns are still for grownups, but let's do something for those little ones that haven't learned to read xml yet. The YouTube Kids app has only been available since late February, so it's fair to expect a lot of changes and new features in each release. Last week's update brought immersive mode and better voice search, but a look inside revealed that there are some extra toys in the future. To begin with, it looks like Chromecast support is right around the corner. However, the really cool addition appears to be a built-in recording mode to capture your little one singing along to The Wheels On The Bus. Read More
Update Wednesday came and went this week, leaving us with about a dozen new and updated apps. Project Fi and Google Connectivity Services were added to the Play Store in preparation for Google's first MVNO customers, and new versions were rolled out to bring Quick Reply to Messenger and prepare Google+ for the wide release of Collections. A small bump to Google Play Music also made the list, but there wasn't much in the way of visible changes. However, a look inside suggests there may soon be a new behavior when two or more devices try to use the same Chromecast at once.
: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence.
Google has done a spectacular job of improving and adding features to Chromecast. The low-cost streaming dongle continues to get better, even as it starts to close in on its 2nd birthday. The latest change makes it possible for Chromecast to receive commands from a TV remote, but it may not work on a lot of older televisions. This means users can finally enjoy the convenience of pausing and resuming with the push of a physical button without first turning on the casting device.
This is possible through the use of HDMI-CEC, the protocol that allows multiple devices on an HDMI chain to communicate between each other. Read More
A couple of days ago, Google Drive made news with an update that introduced a new, intuitive Drag & Drop implementation for easier file management. While that appeared to be the only significant change, a look under the hood revealed not only that the Drive team is about to fulfill one of the most often requested features, but it also answered one of the many questions about the fate of Google+ Photos after the split.
: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even in the most cut and dried examples, there is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature.
To be honest, I never really expected to have anything to say about a teardown of the Drive companion apps, but here we are. Google uses Docs, Sheets, and Slides to give Android a mostly seamless editing experience for each of Drive's primary document types. They've gone through a steady set of improvements since launching in April and June of last year, either keeping pace or progressively catching up with the features offered by their web counterparts. While the latest updates brought some fairly minor tweaks, they've also got a few clues hidden inside. We can see the long-awaited Chromecast support for Slides, a printing-related security toggle, and a clue about an upcoming Easter egg. Read More
Google Maps is one of those apps that will always have an enormous number of potential new features, so it's interesting to see the things Google is focusing on with each new release. We just saw an update to v9.2 with new navigation settings and auto-correct for searches, but there are plenty of other really interesting additions in the works. Let's take a look at some of the features we might have to look forward to. It's time for a teardown.
: Teardowns are, by their nature, speculative and based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.