Last week brought a rush of new app updates from both the Play Store and the Android N developer preview. There were surprisingly few new features to discuss, and not much for teardowns; but the Google Keep app does have at least one notable addition in store for us. It looks like Keep is going to give users the ability to pin important notes so they remain readily available and won't get lost as new items are added.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
If you have tried the Play Movies & TV app on Android TV and weren't in love with its player controls, it might be time to give it a new try. A fresh update to v3.15 started rolling out to set-top boxes and televisions yesterday. There are a couple of cosmetic changes, most notably the banner on the launcher screen, but the big change comes in the form of updated player controls that are faster and easier to use.
- New launcher banner
- Updated player controls
New Launcher Banner
Left: old. Right: new.
After the latest visual rebranding of Google Play, most of the primary apps were updated to the new icons within about a week. Read More
Google dropped the news last week that Nearby was about to get a whole lot more interesting. With the use of Bluetooth and a special blend of tricks collectively known as Location Services, Google will enable Android devices to learn about all manner of things in close proximity, whether they be Eddystone beacons, Chromecasts, or even Android Wear watches waiting to be set up. In the announcement, it was mentioned that an update to Google Play services would be rolling out shortly that adds support for all of these new features, and this is the one. While most of the features have already been disclosed, there's one in the teardown that wasn't mentioned. Read More
Anytime there's a big version jump, there's almost always something pretty big to be found. The Google app just leapt from v5.14 to v6.0, but those big new features don't seem to be showing up quite yet. That doesn't mean there isn't still something to see. A teardown shows that there are at least a few things to look out for, either now or in the future. This version appears to be rolling out through the beta channel, so if you want to check it out without signing up to the beta, or if it hasn't rolled out to you yet, there's a download link at the bottom. Read More
The YouTube Gaming app is still young, but each version brings little bits of fine tuning. It's progressively catching up with the main YouTube app while also adding little features that are unique to its focus on gaming and live-streamed events. The latest update to v1.4.41 continues this forward motion with some more subtle adjustments to the interface and a couple of new features. The easter egg count has also gone up by one, and there's even a little bit for a teardown. As always, a link to the download is available at the end.
Unofficial Changelog: (things we found)
- Recommended videos now have a 'Not interested' option in the overflow menu
- "Go Live" has been removed from the main overflow menu
- New "Event notifications" toggle in Settings –> General
- Easter egg count went from 4 to 5
YouTube's recommendation engine isn't perfect, but once it has had time to learn our viewing habits, the results can be very good. Read More
For many of us, the Street View name is linked to a convenient way to look around at places we haven't been, whether it's just an address we're about to drive to or one of the world's greatest mountains. We don't usually associate it with making money, but a lot of businesses have started investing in virtual tours to attract more customers. For a few years, Google has been working to help businesses pair up with independent photographers and agencies to capture scenery for potential visitors. The interface for this was entirely web based, but now it looks like some of the operations will soon become available through the Street View app itself. Read More
The Google Clock app received an update earlier today to version 4.4, bringing with it an assortment of odd little changes. There are some new features, a couple of adjustments to text and animations. However, the one thing that may deserve the most attention is a fairly significant size decrease. As always, you can grab the apk at the bottom of the post if it's not yet available to you through the Play Store.
Unofficial Changelog: (things we've found)
- APK size shrank by nearly 1MB
- Inline volume control
- Vibrating timer option
- Page icon alignment pushed to the left
- Date formatting changed
- Possibly a couple of animation bugs?
Google Maps is now accepting beta testers through the Play Store, and it's probably no coincidence that there's already an update to v9.27 to go along with the news. The latest version doesn't appear to have any mind-blowing features, but it's not without a few changes to be found on the screen and buried in the apk. There are new notification settings, a new splash screen for Android Wear, and a few hints from a teardown. We're still looking around for more, so let us know if you stumble across any cool changes.
Unofficial Changelog: (stuff we found)
- New Notification Settings: "Show pending contributions notification" and "Driving notifications"
- Splash screen on Android Wear
More Notification Settings
Just a few days ago I commented on how the Notifications screen had grown quite a bit over the last few months, and with the brand new beta, two more settings join the list. Read More
It has been a few weeks since Play Music formally launched its take on podcasts, so it goes without saying that there are probably a few things left to be done. An update to version 6.9 takes care of one of the bigger gaps in the functionality by putting podcasts onto its Android Auto interface. Also on the list for this update are some small-to-medium visual tweaks. As usual, the apk is available for download at the bottom of this post if you're interested in jumping ahead of the normal rollout. Read More
Hangouts for Android version 10.0 is now available for download - the big feature add? Direct share support, allowing you to share content directly to your commonly-used Hangouts contacts straight from the share menu. For big Hangouts users, this is a huge convenience when sending things like photos, videos, or even just simple links.
The version 10.0 APK doesn't contain any other major changes that we've yet found. We did notice, as in the right-hand side image, that the send button now has a drop-shadow when it's grayed out. So that's something. But direct share appears to be the big update for now, with Hangouts for iOS also having been updated to v10 today. Read More