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.
Unofficial Changelog: (what we've seen)
- Podcasts were added to the interface for Android Auto
- Genre Selector in New Releases screen moved down to below the featured track
- Other minor visual adjustments
Podcasts in Android Auto
While a lot of people can't see or try it out yet, the big feature-add for this version of Play Music is the addition of podcasts to the Android Auto interface. Read More
Inbox has proven itself to be an invaluable tool for people that haven't got the time or patience (or a crazy set of filters) to deal with a constant barrage of incoming mail. Not only that, but it has been progressively gaining features that make it reasonably competent as a to-do list and time management tool. In the latest update to Inbox, there's evidence that Google is about to take this another step in this direction by adding an "assistant" to help with keeping emails and tasks readily available.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
Casually browsing YouTube on a mobile device is a pretty good experience, or at least it's about as good as anything we've seen on a phone or tablet so far. However, many of us aren't going to YouTube just to poke around at the latest trending videos and subscriptions, we're actually looking for something specific, and that's when the search UI comes in. Mobile search is pretty comparable to the web experience too–in fact, they are almost in feature parity–but there are still a few things missing from mobile. But a teardown reveals one of those missing features will be there soon: sorting options in search results. Read More
Google I/O has taken its toll. At least that's the way it looks based on the fairly quiet week we've seen for app updates thus far. The biggest update to arrive was for Snapseed, which gained some fairly useful improvements for editing. The focus on images continued with an update to the Photos app, but it didn't appear to bring any notable new features, rather just a bug fix. However, a teardown of the app reveals quite a bit more. Google is lining up some cool improvements to the app, including new sorting methods for albums, new editing controls, and a pretty amazing promo for Nexus devices. Read More
There's a new version of the Play Store beginning its slow rollout, and it's all about all those beta apps you've signed up for. You can see when you're in a beta, leave/join them, and even provide direct developer feedback from the Play Store client. Anyone who's in a lot of betas will want this update, and we've got the APK ready for download. Read More
Many YouTube Red subscribers aren't making use of the dedicated YouTube Music app yet, but it remains one of the somewhat unique perks of the program. Since launch, the app hasn't seen all that many changes, but updates have been coming out pretty regularly with little tweaks and adjustments. Last week, an unexpected jump from v1.20 to v1.25 suggested some big changes were afoot. A teardown didn't reveal anything of substance – just some minor visual tweaks – but a new changelog has come out since the release of v1.26 this week, and gives us something a little more meaningful.
- New: Listen to your YouTube playlists in the YouTube Music app!
Google's Camera app isn't the most advanced tool for taking photos. It completely avoids manual controls and generally lags behind OEMs for most major features. Where it's lacking in advanced features, the Camera app tries to make up for with a simple interface and clever techniques to intelligently deliver better photos without putting the burden on users. This means it works pretty well for simple point-and-shoot purposes, but skilled and professional photographers aren't likely to give it a second look. A teardown of a recent Camera update shows that Google is testing an option to save both RAW and JPEG files with each picture, a popular feature on many dedicated cameras and high-end smartphones. Read More