One of the worst things about fitness tracking apps is that they often require users to tell them when an activity starts. This can be a pretty big inconvenience, especially for people that keep their phones stowed in closed pockets or an arm band without easy access to the screen. The latest update to Fit might save many people from having to reach for their phone at all. Wear users can now start and stop activity trackers directly from the mini-app.
The main phone app doesn't seem to have any notable changes, so this update is all about Wear. Read More
Google added Drawing Mode to Keep at the end of October and the couple of updates since then seem to focus on fixing bugs. The recent 501 update did make a small but useful addition: there is now an overflow menu in Drawing Mode with links to Delete and Send (i.e. share) your doodles to other apps. Read More
Android TV is getting some serious attention this week with updates to just about all of the Google apps, including a few that most of us never hear about. An update to YouTube's set-top variant just came out with a few subtle changes. The latest release fills out the interface a bit to make channel subscriptions slightly easier. There are also some new shortcuts and reorganization for Settings, including a toggle to enable Stats for Nerds mode. And YouTube Red subscribers will finally see a visual change when their subscription status is recognized.
Home screen – Left: old version. Right: new version. Read More
Out with the old and in with the new. That's just about the best way to describe the latest update to the Google app for Android TV. Version 2.0 doesn't seem to bring much in the way of features, but what it lacks in functional changes is more than made up for with visuals. Basically everything having to do with a search interface looks at least a little different, if not completely. If you're eager to try it out for yourself, there's an APK Mirror link at the bottom. Otherwise, take a gander at a few screenshots below.
New microphone – Left: old version, Right: new version. Read More
Wednesday was packed with an onslaught of app updates, many of which came with at least a few notable features. While a bit on the quiet side, the Play Movies & TV app came with some worthwhile new features of its own. Most of the new features are hidden under the Settings screen, including a toggle to finally shut off binge-watching on phones and tablets and a pair of options to enable notifications for new TV shows and when things on your Wishlist become available or drop in price. There are also a few other subtle differences behind the scenes.
Here's the official changelog for Play Movies & TV v3.10:
- Wishlist any movie that's not yet available for purchase and receive notifications when it's available to buy or rent
- More reliable playback
- Settings improvements
- Play Movies & TV channel in Android TV Live Channels app
An update back in early October brought binge-watching, which filled in a popular feature for serious TV watchers. Read More
If you saw our post about last month's update to Maps, you may remember a teardown showed hotels would soon gain listings for amenities. Google didn't keep us waiting for long; amenities can now be viewed on many hotel listings and in search results. As usual, we've got the download links below if you don't want to wait for the slow rollout to hit your device. Read More
The Photos app saw a small bump to v1.10 yesterday (and a tiny bug fix today), but it seems most people will be hard pressed to find much in the way of changes. However, there seems to be one interesting feature popping up for a very small number of users. If the right circumstances are met, users will have an option to create a tiny floating shortcut to the Photos app over the screen of their camera apps. Yeah, it sounds pretty weird, but it would be useful for apps that don't offer a shortcut of their own.
Thanks, Dominic Witte. Read More
Google's Chrome development team regularly implements new APIs to extend the possibilities for web apps to behave more like their native counterparts. The most recent addition to the Chrome dev channel allows web developers to use Bluetooth to communicate with nearby hardware. This could be used for things like an online fitness tracker that gets data from a heart rate monitor or for a controller to drive a Sphero, all without installing a native app.
These things are possible with the new Web Bluetooth API. Still in the early stages of development, this allows a web application to query for Bluetooth devices based on their capabilities, then pass messages back and forth with little or no friction. Read More
A very long-awaited update to Google Fit began rolling out earlier this week, but it seemed to focus almost entirely on improvements to the Wear micro-app while the main app was all but ignored. As it turns out, that was a mistake. A fresh update to the app started rolling out yesterday and it brings the rest of the features that were intended for this release – and what a list of features they are.
Note: Everything here was about to be part of a teardown, but the update stole that thunder. Read More
A fresh update of Google Play Services is headed out to our Android hardware around the world. This brings the framework package up to v8.4 and actually carries a couple of user-facing changes for us to check out. There's nothing too big, which is pretty normal for a Play services update, but there are some nice visual touch-ups for Smart Lock and a new option in the Android Auto developer options. But that's not all, a teardown shows that we're getting much closer to family organization (yes, for family sharing) and app invites will finally become useful as they can finally be sent to the people that need them most – the people right next to us. Read More