The idea of contactless payments has turned out to be an unusually divisive topic. Some people are certain that we're only a couple of years away from abandoning physical credit cards in favor of using smartphones at the checkout line, while others see it as an obnoxious novelty that slows down everything and should be ignored. Whatever the case, it's interesting to watch the progress of mobile payment methods as they grow and evolve in an effort to capture consumer interest. The latest update to Android Pay v1.3 doesn't appear to bring any immediately available new features, but a teardown reveals that we will soon have the option to use certain types of cards without unlocking our phones. Read More
It's the first Monday of May, and that means there are some new factory images and OTAs for the Nexus line. As usual, these new firmware packages include the latest security patches from the preceding month, and possibly some bug fixes and optimizations, as well. While we'll be looking for changes in the AOSP changelog (coming soon), Google has posted the security bulletin to explain the major risks that that have been fixed in this release.
Google took special care to point out that the security bulletin has been renamed (from "Nexus" to "Android") to reflect its relationship to all devices running Android, not just those directly supported by Google. Read More
Keyboard apps aren't the most exciting things, but they're one of the apps you interact with most on your phone. Think about how much you type, and how much that experience has improved over the years. Google hasn't added anything important to the Google Keyboard lately, but apparently they've been saving it up. The new v5.0 update is rolling out, and it's huge. There are UI tweaks, new gestures, layout changes, and so much more. Read More
Many of Google's apps are in extremely active development, some are even on weekly update schedules, but there are others that seem practically abandoned until they get that one random update every 6 months or so. With an average of about once per year (so far), Authenticator is easily one of the best examples of the latter group. Given the infrequency of new versions, it's a little disheartening to see that there are no discernable new features in the latest release; but it's actually worse than that, one was even taken away. But don't let this get you down, it looks like this little app may be due for some new tricks soon as it may be entering wireless territory. Read More
Update Wednesday went by a bit quietly with relatively few rollouts. However, the tail end of the day brought a bump to the Photos app with a lot of unusual and interesting changes. There are plenty of visual tweaks throughout the app, not to mention a couple of new features. Auto-generated movies now support custom music and there are some improvements to folder management and SD card support, such as it is. As always, hit the bottom of the post for download links.
Official Changelog: (summarized from Google's post)
- Provide your own music for automatically generated movies
- Folder renaming and partial SD card support
- Replaced the FAB that launched Search with a search bar
- New search interface
- Many other small visual tweaks
Substitute Your Own Music in Generated Movies
Photos, like many other apps and services that have cropped up over recent years, is pretty awesome at stitching together short videos from our pictures and movies, then adding background music to give them some extra punch. Read More
Developers usually use version numbers to convey the amount of change an app has gone through from one release to the next. But what does it mean when Google Maps not only jumps over v9.24 entirely, but also skips forward a patch release to give us v9.25.1? Let's assume it's a sign that there are a lot of new features and not too many bugs. This version certainly doesn't disappoint on new features. There are a bunch of additions to be seen, so let's get right into it.
Unofficial Changelog: (there may be more)
- Contact addresses appear in Your places screen and on maps.
Android N won't be out for at least a few more months (and much longer for most devices), but you can get a little taste of the dev preview on your phone right now. The new Google Camera build that shipped with the new N preview is hitting the Play Store, and we've got an APK you can install. Read More
While Google has been pushing out a ton of OS and app updates, the Drive team got out one of its own. This is a perfectly good update on its own, but it also includes clues to some upcoming features, too. In this update, you'll find a newly revised look and operation for uploading files, and there's even a color picker for folders. (Yey!) On the teardown side, we can look forward to recommendations for files, a shortcut to "Team Drives," and possibly even another form of device backup. Oh yeah, and the FAB changes color. Read More
Cloud storage is probably the greatest thing to happen to casual photography since manufacturers started putting decent shooters into smartphones. There's nothing like snapping a couple of group shots and throwing them up on Google Photos without the hassle of hooking a computer to a phone just to move them over first. The catch is that most of us choose not to sync pictures over cellular, instead waiting to get back within reach of Wi-Fi so our data plans don't feel too much abuse. However, there are times you still need to back up a few shots right away, and that's where the latest Google Photos update comes in. Read More