Google's developers took a couple of weeks off for the holidays – or from my perspective, they gave me a couple of weeks to rest – but now they're back and it's time for the app updates to resume. Naturally, it's time to breathe life back into the teardowns, and we're back with a big one. Google Search v4.1 began rolling out to users yesterday, and we've already seen quite a few little adjustments and improvements.
The Google Search app is about to get the Material Design treatment. In a blog post today, Google has officially announced version 4.0 of Search, which we detailed (APK download included) nearly a month ago.
To refresh, the visual changes aren't all that drastic. Google Now already relied on cards, and swiping them away already felt pretty tangible. But now we have the extra layer of Lollipop-style flourish.
Update 2: Wow, that was fast. One of the Android Police staff already has at least some of the Material Design changes enabled for searching from Chrome for Android, and others are reporting that they can see them as well. This isn't active for everyone - even my Nexus 5 with the latest KitKat firmware is showing the old interface.
The midterm elections are fast approaching in the United States, and you know what that means: horrible commercials interrupting all of your football games. But it also means that citizens should sincerely evaluate candidates for local and national posts and make informed decisions while performing their civic duty. And if you'd like to do that without taking a few hours off of work in November, you can register to vote early in most states.
We first got an indication that Google Now would begin to include election-based content in late September, thanks to the handy UnleashTheGoogle root tool. Now it looks like the "Election Information" cards are appearing for users based in the United States, where the midterm elections will be held next month. (For international readers: those are the ones that elect all the members of the House of Representatives, some members of the Senate, and various state and local offices, but not the President.)
Like most of the content that appears on the Google Now page, you can activate the Election Information card just by searching for relevant pages via the Google Search application.
Google is continually tweaking its search engine to make getting information just that little bit easier. The latest addition to the far-reaching Knowledge Graph system appears to be additional inline information that will show up beneath some broad search results. Search for a historical figure or something relating to geography, and you'll see basic facts beneath the entry. The new feature was spotted by the Google Operating System blog, and it appears to be limited to Wikipedia results for the time being.
"OK Google" is a phrase that gets spoken around my house several times a day. So much, in fact, it's the first thing my two year old says when he picks up a phone. He looks at it, holds it close to his mouth, and out it comes...even if it's an iPhone. He makes me proud.
But I digress, this is about Google's new ads. I personally have grown to rely on Google Now and voice recognition for most things, and Google is trying to get everyone else on that train, as well (come on in guys, there's plenty of room).
Last week, Google pushed out an update for Google Search, bringing the version number up to 3.6.13. While it added support for deep linking into apps and a few more of the bits to make hands-free operation a little more convenient, most people probably felt like they didn't get too much out of this update. As it turns out, we found one more addition that might interest a few more people.