Last year when material design was introduced to the world, Google emphasized that its specs were a living document. Indeed we've seen several updates to the spec itself since it launched, but Google's also paying attention to its overall design presence, as evidenced by today's major update to google.com/design.
The site has been made over with a new grid filled to the brim with awesome content.
Wouldn't it be nice if every international tech company was as accommodating to competing platforms as Microsoft? The company's Android support for the last year or so has been nothing short of amazing - it must make all twenty Windows Phone users really pissed off at Google for its lack of reciprocation. The latest Microsoft app to make the jump to Android is Delve, a collaboration tool for Office 365 users.
Delve is basically a stream of all the changes made to shared Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files to which you have access. That might not seem like much, but for a team that runs on Office 365 it can be extremely useful.
The dream of the 1990s was a paperless office, a digital wonderland where no one would ever have to change a toner cartridge again. That, um, didn't work out - for the love of Pete, some of you still have fax machines. For all those annoying times when the old dead tree world intersects with your online life, Adobe has created Fill & Sign, an app that lets you easily digitize and automatically fill in paperwork. Yes, you can even put your signature in there.
This sort of thing has been done before: point your phone's camera at a form, snap a photo, and the app will automatically crop, re-orient, and clean up the page for digital formatting.
Whether you travel for leisure or business, the logistics of crossing country or state borders are a nightmare. TripIt has been trying to simplify the process for years, providing travelers with a way to track their flight, hotel reservation, car rental, and other plans in one central place. The app just got better now thanks to a new addition: Traveler Profile.
The profile lives inside TripIt's side menu in the Android (and iOS) app. It houses both travel documents and travel contacts, acting as a hub for everything you might need while on the go. Your passport, driver license, resident cards, as well as your babysitter's number, doctor, and others can be easily added.
Bank statements. Insurance policies. Credit card bills. All of these are things that you should hang on to, and you might not. FileThis is a service that hopes to make proper filing as easy and painless as possible by automatically fetching those documents and dropping them right into your cloud storage service of choice. It's kind of like having one of those automatic scanners... without all that, you know, tedious scanning.
The process is appealingly simple. Create an account with FileThis, then connect it to your preferred cloud storage account. FileThis supports Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.com, Evernote, or Amazon CloudDrive, or you can save files to the proprietary FileThis system or your own PC (with the Windows program).
In the Android community, there are a ton of freelancers working together to get stuff done. Whether it's a graphic design artist contributing to apps or websites, video editors helping with game trailers, developers hoping to create the next big thing, or writers churning out content for blogs (yours truly), the mobile space is filled with independent types coming together to accomplish great things. In our space, and in the broader world at large, freelancers need to sign agreements and write up documents that help guarantee payment and assign ownership of work. This legalese can require years of schooling or a personal lawyer to draft up, but there are ways to save the time and effort.
Between Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox, the question is clear - do you want to store your files on a drive or in a box? Cloud storage provider Box knows which way it wants you to answer, and the company is rolling out an update to its Android app today that it hopes may influence your choice. Version 3.0 of the app introduces a new image gallery that can preview photos without requiring users to load up full images, saving bandwidth. It also brings in a document previewer with support for over 100 file types and the ability to search text within documents.
Word processors were designed for desktop computers. Given that many of us still sit down at laptops or desktops when it's time to type, that isn't too much of issue. We generally consider those to be better devices for typing than tablets or smartphones, but how much of this stems from our reliance on software that isn't designed to truly adapt to mobile screens and interfaces? Quip is a freemium new word processing app designed explicitly for mobile devices, and it's hoping to change word processing to match our new lifestyles. It comes from former Facebook CTO Bret Taylor and has garnered quite a bit of press, but is it the revolution he pitches it as?
It's here! Microsoft Office is finally here! Well, sort of. Following a similar release on the iPhone several months ago, Microsoft has released the official Office for 365 app for Android, as promised. It's a companion application for their cloud-enabled Office subscription service, and in order to use it, you'll need to be an Office 365 subscriber - plans start at $60 a year for a single user.
Office 365 is only available for Android phones. Tablets aren't invited to the syncing suite party. Microsoft has similar restrictions on iOS, where iPads are left out in the cold. Though they haven't explicitly said so, it's assumed that this is to keep the app as an exclusive for Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows RT platforms (and the latter could certainly use all the help it can get).
Today, Google launched a couple new features for developers that will give them a lot more flexibility in storing data associated with apps. For starters, using what's called "app data folders," a developer can store important files in a user's Drive storage space. This is huge news as, up until this point, the main method for backing up data has been the Backup API, which is great for small things that are 1-2MB or so, but isn't really sufficient for larger files.
Lest you worry that developers can now pile a bunch of data into your Drive account, users will still be able to see how much data is being stored.