Google has been buffing up the capabilities of the Chromecast as of late by opening up app access with the SDK, and it looks like even first-party apps are getting in on the action. The latest release of the beta version of Chrome for Android adds in Chromecast capability for YouTube videos. Theoretically, it should work for any standard HTML5 video as well. Now you don't need a laptop to cast web videos to your television.
An update to Chrome beta a few weeks ago came with the bizarre side effect that hotword detection no longer worked in the Google search app or in the Google Now Launcher (GNL). The next version of Chrome beta didn't do anything to fix it, either. Well, Google Search to the rescue – yesterday's big search update seems to have fixed hotword detection.
Did you know that the web browser on your phone or tablet waits three tenths of a second after you tap something to actually perform that action? You did if you're a web developer - it's a de-facto standard for mobile browsers, a built-in delay for the double-tap zoom function. But if you're on the newest Chrome beta, you won't see the delay, at least on mobile sites.
Why is this?
Since the dawn of Chrome Beta for Android, Google blocked it from the Play Store's search results for some reason. For those who use the browser as their default, this was a huge pain in the ass, as it meant searching Google to find a direct link to the browser when installing it on a new device. Sure, that may sound minor, but not being able to find your favorite browser from the device's Play Store search results is just annoying.
Starting with the upcoming version 31, Chrome for Android Beta will support adding web apps to the home screen via an option in the overflow menu. These apps will still run in a sandboxed Chrome environment, but they will also be integrated with the operating system in a few interesting ways.
Adding a supported web app to the homescreen will place a custom icon on the device, but this is more than a bookmark shortcut.
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.
The cool thing about rocking the beta version of a product is getting to experience all the shiny new things before anyone else, and the new tab page currently in the works for the Android version of Google Chrome is the kind of alluring update that makes doing so oh-so-tempting. It reduces the amount of clutter at the top of the screen, places search front and center, lists most visited websites in a single scrollable row, and provides prominent buttons for accessing bookmarks and synced devices at the bottom of the page.
If you're in the habit of using the fancy-pants Chrome Beta to get access to the newest features for your browser of choice, try this handy zoom gesture out. On any desktop page, double-tap anywhere, and on the second tap keep your finger on the screen. Then slide your finger up and down for a quick and easy zoom. It works the same way that the "pinch to zoom" function does, but with a single finger.