Hangouts for Android version 5.0 is rolling out to some users now, and it brings... nothing new in the way of features that we can find, actually. We do know this version is supposed to fix the broken animated GIF support that was an annoyance in Hangouts 4 (confirmed: they're fixed), but otherwise, you probably aren't going to notice much. There appear to be some very slight animation changes here and there, as well as a brief splash screen that pops up when the app opens to the main conversation view that wasn't present in the previous version (4.2). Read More
The Google app was treated to an update late yesterday, bringing the version number up to 5.4. This bump seems to be mostly dedicated to bug fixes, but a couple of changes deserve to be mentioned. A previously screwy animation has been restored to its original beauty, and we now have a more convenient way to set Home and Work locations. Evidence also turned up that suggests the Google app will play host to its own mini-app for Android Wear.
Fixed Card Swipe Animation
Left: previous version. Right: latest version.
Last month's v5.3 update introduced a very unsightly bug into the Google Now stream. Read More
Here's a little secret about people who run YouTube channels: a lot of them are obsessed with analytics. There's just something about having numbers that compels them to track, analyze, and obsess over every detail. This is the one thing they definitely have in common with website operators and certain types of sports fans. If you happen to be among this crowd, you're probably going to love the latest update to YouTube Creator Studio. It is now absolutely packed with new analytics about your channels, individual videos, audience, earnings, and more. Along the way, it also saw a little bit of restyling to clean up the interface and make it just a little more consistent and easier to read. Read More
Google Street View launched as a true standalone app just last month, becoming something of a shared gallery for the world's most awesome locales. People can easily look through and contribute to a vast selection of great photographs and photospheres from around the globe. But if you were looking for the truly immersive experience, the app was still somewhat lacking. That is, until now. The latest update adds Google Cardboard support, so everybody can take a trip without leaving their home.
To switch modes, just tap on the new Cardboard icon in the top-right corner of the screen on any 360-degree photo. Read More
The Asus ZenWatch 2 is going to be shipping in a few days, and the company has updated the ZenWatch Manager app to get ready. The new version is basically a completely new app. The interface, features, and selection of watch faces have been completely revamped. This update boosts the number of available watch faces to a total of 50 and adds new options to almost all of them. Yes, there are 50 customizable watch faces for the ZenWatches now.
Google Maps received a fairly minor update last night, bumping it up to v9.15. There aren't any big visible changes, and even the teardown was pretty light, but there is one addition to the Settings screen that's worth mentioning. Under the Notifications section is a new checkbox titled "Traffic information." Obviously, it lets you shut off traffic notifications, which might be fairly handy if you already know they're coming or there tend to be a lot of false positives reported in your area. It's not the most exciting feature, but it will certainly matter to a few users.
This is the only noticeable change to the interface we've seen so far, but there may be some others lurking in a corner we haven't checked yet. Read More
Sometimes the smallest changes can make for the best improvements. The latest update to Chrome Dev for Android scored some points with us earlier for expanding theme color support for users that don't care for merging their tabs with apps, but that wasn't the only cool enhancement that came along. Users can now look forward to seeing a snackbar open up each time a download completes. The handy widget shows both the name of the downloaded file and a button to open it.
Left: The new snackbar in action. Right: Snackbar on Dev Preview 3 missing the open button.
In earlier versions of Chrome, all download operations appeared only as an animated notification. 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
After the launch of YouTube Gaming at the end of August, we posted a teardown of the new app that revealed plans to officially support screen recording and live streaming in the future. A recent announcement at the 2015 Tokyo Game Show Keynote (embedded below) confirmed Google's plans to enable Android devices to stream gaming footage to YouTube without the use of any additional software. The latest update to Play Games contains the evidence that Google is moving forward with this, and probably pretty soon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.