A good portion of you have probably been playing with a spiffy new Windows 10 upgrade this week. If you're a fan of Microsoft's HALO-branded digital voice assistant, Cortana, you can check it out on your Android phone, too - it's more or less a remade version of the implementation that debuted on Windows Phone devices. The Android beta app has been available for a few weeks, and Android developers are already having fun with the new tool.
If you're so enamored with Cortana that you'd like to make it the default voice assistant on your Android phone... well, you're probably going to make Microsoft very happy.
Apps with tens of millions of users tend to either spend a lot of time and effort conforming to Android's visual standards... or spend none at all, considering their own cross-platform UI more important. Dropbox has tended to fall into the former category, but it's taken them a while to get on board with the Material Design standards introduced with Android 5.0. That changes today: version 188.8.131.52 adds a new UI that follows the Material Design playbook. For the most part, anyway.
Old interface above, new below.
The app opens up to your root Dropbox folder, and the tabbed interface is gone - if you want to look at your files in the Photos or Favorites view, you'll have to open the side menu.
Drupe would like you to think that contacts on Android, and on mobile in general, are broken. They're not - phone makers and developers have been doing this for a while, after all - but that doesn't mean that they can't be improved upon. Drupe is a "floating" app that puts contacts, and the means to do all sorts of interesting things with them, in a unique overlay accessible from any other app. Check it out in action in the video below.
To activate Drupe, just tap the translucent triple-dot activation point in any app. A list of your favorite contacts (or groups of contacts) will appear along the left side of your phone's screen, with a list of communication apps on the right.
Today we've got a quick tip for Chrome - a new method of switching between what we'll call "sibling tabs" in Chrome for Android when you've got apps and tabs merged.
First, what are sibling tabs? In Chrome on Android Lollipop, when users have tabs and apps merged (so Chrome tabs show up in the overview space), tabs opened using the "open in new tab" action will group together with the parent tab, making a nice little group that will stick together as you scroll vertically.
Now here's the tip: when you are looking at one of these grouped tabs, a simple swipe across Android's system navigation bar will jump between those tabs.
One of the things I love about Android is the way it allows fantastic customization of its user interface, even without root or other major modifications. Take App Swap for example: this handy little app drawer replacement can launch either from a standard shortcut on your launcher (or alternative methods like SwipePad) or it can replace the default Google Now swipe-up-from-the-home-button gesture.
The latest update to this tool adds an even more useful feature: Quick Swipe. This allows users to swipe left or right from the pop-up app drawer to instantly go to the apps of their choice. Essentially it's an even faster way to get to your two most-frequented apps.
One of the less dramatic software additions to the Moto X was the handy and unobtrusive camera launch gesture. While most phones have a quick-launch function for the camera on the lockscreen, the Moto X (and Verizon's me-too DROIDs from 2013) can quickly access the camera with two twists of the wrist, even when the phone's screen is off. According to a video spotted by A Tech Website (no, that's really the name) the upcoming Moto X+1, or possibly "the new Moto X," retains this function.
The video, partially narrated in Spanish, shows the larger phone activating its camera with the same twisting motion that the current phones use.
One complaint many Glass users have voiced since the Explorer Program began is that Glass has very limited contact management capabilities. Users could add contacts in the MyGlass interface, but those manually added contacts were the only ones a user could correspond with using Google's eye-mounted computer.
The Glass team is fixing that - and a number of other things - in an update to XE20.1, announced today. The update will allow Glass to see all a user's contacts, with starred contacts showing up for quick voice access. Other contacts will be just a quick swipe away.
The update also adds a "head nudge" card to the settings bundle.
An updated version of Google Keyboard has made its way into the Play Store, taking most of the previously Nexus 5-exclusive features and expanding them out to other devices. We've covered the improvements in-depth before (and provided an APK), but in short, the swiping trail is now white, emoji are built-in, and users can swipe multiple words without having to lift up their finger. Unfortunately, some features still require KitKat, such as full-color emoji. Anyone running a prior version of Android will see an incomplete, black and white set instead.
The new black and white look arguably helps Google's keyboard better integrate with Android interfaces that are decidedly less Holo, such as HTC Sense (above) and TouchWiz.
If you're in the habit of using the fancy-pants Chrome Beta to get access to the newest features for your browser of choice, try this handy zoom gesture out. On any desktop page, double-tap anywhere, and on the second tap keep your finger on the screen. Then slide your finger up and down for a quick and easy zoom. It works the same way that the "pinch to zoom" function does, but with a single finger.
The handy gesture was mentioned on the official Chrome release blog. It has been included in Google Maps for some time, and will presumably make it to the standard Chrome build sooner or later.
The flick-gesture for quickly opening the camera app on the Moto X and new DROIDs has been repeatedly highlighted by Motorola. And like any buzz-worthy feature in an upcoming phone, it's been almost immediately duplicated. Twisty Launcher popped into the Play Store last night, promising to deliver a customized version of this gesture-based feature, with the added benefit of being compatible with any device or app.
The name "launcher" is a bit of a misnomer - Twisty launches apps, but it isn't a homescreen in any way. Select an app to open with a gesture (the camera is enabled by default) and it will run in the background, waiting for your to call upon the mighty power of waiving your phone around.