The fine engineers at Google have been hard at work with some cool new features to both the WebView package and Chrome for Android. Recent updates to the Chromium project have extended Contextual Search to tablets, and there is now partial support for the new text selection features introduced with Android M. Even the T-Rex easter egg game got a little bit better.
Contextual Search for tablets
If you've tried selecting text in Chrome on a phone recently, you've probably noticed a cool little popup at the bottom of the screen that acts as a shortcut to search for the selected term. Read More
Giving away free apps is sort of Amazon's thing. Each day the company offers up a different piece of software in hopes of attracting Android users away from their default app store. Now Google seems to be dipping its toes in the water and trying out something similar. Instead of a free app of the day, we can download one for the week.
The offer isn't immediately apparent when you first open the Play Store. A banner advertising "New Family Fun" appears at the bottom of the screen. Clicking that will take you over to the family section, where you should see another banner advertising a free app of the week from PBS Kids. Read More
When Google unveiled the Chromecast, more than a handful of people looked at the dongle as a cheap way to get around putting up with projectors and VGA cables when giving presentations. Unfortunately the company seemed in no hurry to actually update the Slides app with compatibility. Casting presentations saved on Drive required mirroring an Android screen or using a laptop instead. But as Cody discovered in an APK teardown back in February, support was finally set to land in Slides at any moment. Read More
The updates came rolling in quickly this morning. Among them was a fresh bump to Google's Inbox app – the email app for people without time for email. This release was a little light on truly new features as far as the main interface is concerned, but it finally brought a feature to light we've been expecting for a few months: home screen shortcuts to jump straight into writing a new email or scheduling reminders.
The new shortcuts are called Compose and Reminders. They were first revealed during a Teardown of Inbox in early March and they appear to work as expected. Read More
A new update to Google's Maps application is out, but the wait for offline navigation must go on. This is a relatively minor version bump, so we're not going to see the big features mentioned at I/O, but that doesn't mean there aren't still some pretty good things in this release. We now get to enjoy a new photo gallery view, car rental bookings will be shown, and there are a few pleasant improvements in Settings.
New Photo Gallery View
Left: old photo view, Center: new photo gallery, Right: new single photo view
A few weeks ago, Google made some subtle changes to the interface for uploading photos for locations you had visited. Read More
Fix for multi-column layouts
From a user-facing standpoint, the only directly relatable change came to multi-column layouts in Chrome. Read More
A couple of months ago, Google brought 360-degree videos to YouTube. While we're still not seeing a lot of multi-directional content popping up, it has certainly warranted some attention, including a fairly lengthy mention during the Google I/O 2015 Keynote presentation. At the time, we learned that YouTube would be adding VR video support for Cardboard later this summer. In a rare turn of events, Google's claim of "later this summer" actually meant it was one week away – or six days, to be exact.
left: old version, right: new version. Note the cardboard symbol next to the timeline
Now, whenever a 360-degree video begins playing, the overlay screen will show the Cardboard logo just to the right of the track bar shortly before the entire overlay fades out. Read More
The new APK for the clock app from the Android M Developer Preview doesn't look very different from the one you'll find in Lollipop - most of the functions (alarms, world clock, timer, and countdown) are in the same place and operate in the same way. But there's one tiny change that a small amount of users will be extremely happy to see. The Clock app can now "start" your week on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.
This is one of those little formatting questions that has never really been properly resolved by society. Most western calendars "start" the week on Sunday, but a majority of people with what you might call a normal job go to work on Monday and consider Sunday the "end" of their week. Read More
This is it, folks. This is the version of Play Services that will be running on our phones and tablets when Google I/O 2015 kicks off in just 6 days. There are things in here that will certainly make the keynote, so if you don't want any spoilers, close this page immediately! There's no point in beating around the bush when we've got so much to talk about, so let's get to the good stuff.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown.