It looks like Google is performing some surgery on the Google bar, the familiar toolbar that appears across the top of many of Google's web properties (including Chrome's new tab page). Until recently, the bar held a G+ sharing shortcut, a profile switcher, an "app drawer" to switch between Google products, and a link shortcut to your Google+ profile.
Today it looks like two of those things have been axed - specifically the Google+ link and the sharing shortcut.
Of course, while "Google+ is dead" sentiments have been floating around virtually since the service's inception, we'll resist the urge to speculate about the rationale behind removing Plus-specific functionality from the bar for now.
According to a tipster (and a report over at DroidLife), Google is testing a new feature for Google+ that could be big news for the platform. For now, it's called "Collections," and it's being tested for an unspecified release target.
The basic idea behind Collections is curated content sets - like Pinterest boards or Dribbble buckets, users could curate pieces of content into their collection, with others viewing, sharing, and following those collections as they please.
Here's a look at a collection (note that Derek Ross is not our source - the tipster simply sent a screenshot of a collection including posts by Ross.)
We also got a look at what posts from a collection look like on mobile - they're designated with a subheader containing the name of the collection.
LG has just sent out a press release for its latest Android Wear device - the LG Watch Urbane.
The Watch Urbane, "first all-metal luxury Android Wear device," ostensibly drops both the "G" naming scheme and the bezel markings of the G Watch R, opting for understated metal casings. Otherwise the specs should look pretty familiar.
Chipset: 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 400
Operating System: Android Wear™
Display: 1.3-inch P-OLED Display (320 x 320, 245ppi)
Update: As pointed out by several commenters, this option has been there for a while, but appeared new to many of us, including me (my screenshot of the old Google+ app's Folders section that I posted in the original article shows that the cloud icon wasn't visible to me). I reinstalled the old Google+ app to make sure I wasn't missing anything and upon further investigation, figured out the problem. If, like me, you had the "Backup local folders" option unticked, your folder list didn't offer any cloud on/off icon and you would not have known that selective backup was a possibility. If, however, you chose to backup all your folders, then the folder list would show you the cloud icon.
Google+ got a somewhat unexpected bump to version 4.6 today, an update that brought with it plenty of Material touches. Since we first reported on Material Design (at the time known as Quantum Paper), we've expected that Google's own apps would be undergoing their own gradual transformations in updates leading up to the launch of Android L. The Google+ app got its first round of material changes earlier this summer, but today's update starts its journey through the last mile.
The first thing you'll notice is the new launcher icon, which carries the characteristic long shadow and slight dimensionality of Google's other "material" launcher icons (like the new Play Newsstand icon, for instance).
There have been a lot of leaks lately, and they don't show any sign of slowing down - Yoel Kaseb (via Google+) has shared screenshots of what he claims to be a test build of a redesigned Google+ app. According to his post, the build is unstable and probably unfinished, and he has since been locked out from accessing or using the APK. But what we can see from the screenshots Kaseb managed to capture is both compelling and in line with some of the other leaks we've seen recently. It may also be worth mentioning that Kaseb is verified on Google+.
Many moons ago, Google added G+ photo backups, a feature that not only keeps pictures backed up with users' Google accounts for safe-keeping, but also allows for quick and easy sharing on Google's social network. Today, the company is offering similarly simplistic sharing of photos with Gmail in the web browser.
As of today, the Gmail web app's "insert photo" button within the compose window's action bar will have access to the photos that are automatically backed up via the Google+ app on smartphones and tablets. If images are organized into albums on Google Photos, then it's even possible to easily share groups of pictures simultaneously.
A few days ago, it was confirmed that Google had started asking manufacturers to brand boot animations with a specific "Powered by Android" lockup as part of Google's Mobile Services license. Samsung's Galaxy S5 and HTC's new One M8 both carry the branding, and today Motorola's Moto X and Moto G have joined the party, but Motorola has something else in store as well - a new boot animation just in time for April Fools Day. The animation features a UFO, bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster, all exposed by Motorola's spotlight. Check out the full sequence below.
The updated animation sequence comes in an update to Moto's Boot Services app on the Play Store.
Google has been adding a lot of new features and design tweaks to the G+ app as of late, and today an update will be rolling out that puts focus on the way it handles notifications service-wide. Post-update, when you dismiss a notification – which also happens to have a new bell icon – on one platform, it will dismiss said notification globally, regardless of whether the action is performed on mobile or the web. Unread notifications will also be separated from those that have already been read moving forward.
That aside, the Android app is also getting a few key new features:
Photo deletion directly from the Photos view
Tapping the post shows now +1s, comments, and reshares
The new slide-out menu has finally been incorporated
That last point is going to be a big one for many people – G+ is finally getting the new navigation drawer that has already showed up in Music, Magazines, GMail, and several other Google apps.