Google surprised us with the long, long, long-awaited Hangouts 4.0 release earlier today, but that wasn't the only update worth paying attention to – Android Wear v1.3 turned up in the later hours, as well. At first glance, the only new option appears to be a selector in settings for choosing between watches for hacking or programming purposes, but a teardown reveals some great new features we can expect to see in the next major firmware release to Android Wear.
If you load Wear v1.3 to your phone right now, the only change you're likely to see is a new option in the Settings screen titled Device to Debug, which pops open a selector with a list of your currently paired watches. Read More
Have you ever been stuck in the middle of the woods with no way back to civilization, no laptop, and your boss expects you to deliver a spectacular presentation to your investors in 15 minutes? Neither have I, but it could happen – life is full of surprises like that. If you ever do find yourself in this situation, all you need is your smartphone, a half-decent wireless connection, and the latest version of Google Slides. Read More
When Google unveiled its material design vision for Android 5.0, the changes included a new button that hovers in the bottom right-hand corner of apps. The Floating Action Button, or FAB, has become commonplace in the time since.
But in the latest version of Keep, Google wants you to forget all about it. The FAB is gone. In its place there's now a white bar across the bottom of the screen. This is now where you will go to create a new note, jot down a list, start a voice recording, or take a picture.
Left: Old, Right: New
Is this a step forward? Read More
Google Photos version 1.1 didn't come with much in the way of changes, and the tradition looks like it's holding true for 1.2 as well. But hey, sometimes we like minor tweaks just as much. So let's go over them, and then you can rush to grab the APK.
For starters, there's the ability to easily add individual photos to albums from the drop-down menu. Here's a before and after shot.
Left: Old, Right: New
And when you're inside of an album, you also have the option to set an image as the album cover.
There's no logic to this untitled album. Read More
The app updates from the last week seem to be all about where you are, where you've been, and where you're going. It has only been a few days since Google Play services 7.8 began rolling out with a couple of location-related bits hidden inside, and now a new version of Maps is hitting the scene with a host of new features centered around our location history. We can now look back through the places we've visited, when we were last at certain spots, and the routes we've taken. Read More
YouTube's Offline Playback feature was first introduced alongside Music Key back in November, finally giving people a way to store a (limited) selection of videos for trips into areas with poor connectivity, or just to avoid using up capped data plans. While it has remained mostly unchanged in the last 8 months, the latest update finally brings a few modifications. The interface is now a bit more informative and uniform, and there's a new low-quality option (which is actually a good thing). A teardown also revealed some big improvements to the voice command interface that has been in the works for a while. Read More
Version 4.9 of the Google app began rolling out late yesterday, but it's not sporting a lot of obvious additions. The only immediately visible changes appear under Settings -> Now cards, where a new toggle has been added to enable or disable lock screen notifications based on cards. Some updated text also appears below the new toggle, if you care about that sort of thing.
Left: old version. Right: new version.
The existing Notifications toggle gave users the option to determine whether cards from Google Now could occupy space in the notification shade. The new toggle brings a little more control by allowing notifications to appear in the shade without being shown on the lock screen where they could potentially overwhelm more important notifications. Read More
Google finally let the curtain fall on the long-anticipated Nearby API that enables detection and easy connection with other devices in close proximity. The new API was announced with Play services v7.8, but the SDK won't be released until that version has gone into wide release, which will happen in about two weeks. This gives Google a chance to identify some of the bugs that may have slipped through during development, and collect feedback from a larger set of devices in the real world. Of course, we've also got links to download the apk if you don't feel like waiting.
Like most updates to Play services, there's not all that much to see on the user-facing side. Read More
In February of this year, Google said that Ingress would soon work on Android Wear. It provided this preview image, which provides a rundown of what functionality to expect. Read More
We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs. However, there is one potentially handy new feature making an appearance: home screen shortcuts.
This is the semi-official changelog:
- Home icon support: Get direct access to a news edition or topic by adding an icon to your device home screen.