Google is certainly no stranger to testing new features slowly. Most recently, it released an update to YouTube's UI that's been in testing for at least four months. And for Google, this is a good thing. Testing new features with limited samples of users helps get data not only on their usefulness, but also on how they augment user experience and engagement.
That brings us to the Play Store, an app where nothing is more important than engagement. Google appears to be testing a new feature called "Related Interests," which lists off various categories with round chips similar to the chips used for artists on Google Play Music's web interface. Read More
Heads up or "peeking" notifications, the little miniature pop-ups that appear in Android Lollipop if a notification comes in when you happen to be actually using your device, aren't for everyone. That's why Google will include the option to disable them on a per-app basis in the upcoming Android M release. (See Settings>Sound & Notification>App notifications in the Developer Preview.) It's also why apps like HeadsOff have sprung up to cater to those who want them to go away even sooner.
Unfortunately, it looks like Google isn't all that interested in bringing back the pre-Lollipop equivalent, Ticker Text. Ticker Text is that scrolling text you see across the notation bar when a new alert pops up while you're using your phone, but it's gone as of Android 5.0. Read More
It seems that while Google hasn't actually released the official announcement yet (it's expected this morning), the Collections feature we've heard so much about in recent days now appears to be going live for some users.
Google is just about ready to introduce Collections to Google+ publicly, according to sources.
Evidently, Collections is expected to launch tomorrow, May 4th, in the morning (Pacific Time), with an announcement coming from the official Google+ page of ... Google+. After its announcement, the feature will activate for web and Android users on a rollout that's expected to last a day or so. There's no word yet on when Collections will come to iOS.
The new feature, which we got a sneak peek at recently (followed by pretty strong code-based clues of an impending launch), will allow users to curate "collections" of their content for others to share and follow. Read More
Today, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a working set of principles for his proposed plans to regulate ISPs (including mobile ones) under Title II of the 1996 Telecom Act. These providers would be overseen more like a utility, such as landline phones, granting the FCC much broader authority over companies that operate in this space.
Wheeler wants to enact a pretty narrow version of net neutrality under this (proposed) newfound authority, banning "paid prioritization," paid "fast lanes," and arbitrary throttling and blocking not part of reasonable network management. These new provisions are not trivial, and are definitely ensconced in the larger net neutrality "vision" of groups like the EFF and FSF. Read More
If the rollout of an updated Play Store yesterday with some tweaked interface elements and an order history page was exciting, just wait until you see what else was hidden inside the latest version. I don't think there's any point in teasing, this might be the one we've all been waiting for. The Play Store is finally going to enable a method to offer discounted purchases. There are still a lot of unknowns, but it's real, and it's probably coming very soon.
: Teardowns are speculative and based on incomplete evidence. There is always a chance that details may change, or entire features may be cancelled.
Google's been updating apps left and right recently to fall in line with its new material design philosophy, and the results have been impressive. There are a few apps it appears Google's saving for the final Lollipop release though - Gmail 5.0 among them.
While we won't be distributing the updated Gmail app until the official update is released, we will be sharing a goody from the new onboarding process, which shows some of the new awesomeness coming to the app in its overhaul.
Specifically, it looks like Google's gearing up to handle all your email with Gmail, not just your Gmail account. Read More