Google bought Nest and its smart thermostat a few months ago, and now it's integrating the product into its ecosystem more completely on Earth Day. The Nest Learning Thermostat is now available in the Play Store. It's selling for $249 and Google will plant a tree for every unit sold today, presumably because of Earth Day. Yay, Earth!
Today's Hangouts update was a bit of a surprise. Besides landing on Monday, the update was a fairly large one. Users of the latest version of Hangouts are already enjoying merged SMS/Hangouts threads, improved status markers, a new home screen widget, new sound effects, the ability to share contact cards, and other touches. But - as with any Google update - it's worth looking a little deeper in the app to see what may be hiding in the code.
So the Google Nexus Twitter account was doing some impromptu support for a user and included a screenshot. How helpful! Well, more helpful than they intended it to be. The screenshot shows a slightly tweaked dialer app with a blue action bar. First they took our #33b5e5, now they're coming after the gray. Actually, I think I'm okay with that.
One of the more far-reaching Android Police stories this year was our exclusive write-up of Virus Shield, an impressively popular anti-virus app that managed to make it to the top of the Play Store's sales charts in less than a week, despite the fact that it did absolutely nothing. After digging into the app's code, Artem Russakovskii and various Android Police readers found that it was nothing more than a few images and a toggle.
Two days ago, Google Glass received the XE16 update that bumped the device up to KitKat, introduced photo bundles, brought in sorted voice commands, and added a number of other features. This release was different for a few reasons, the most notable of which being the long wait (the last release was XE12 back in December).
Now the Glass team has released the update's system image to the Internet. The file is available for download from the usual location.
In a rare (and very amusing) fireside chat between Matias Duarte and Joshua Topolsky, we heard that I/O 2014 might put significantly more attention on great design as a topic. Today, a post on Google's Developer Blog is here to back up that declaration and adds that there will be sessions and workshops geared for designers and developers interested in improving their products. While there still hasn't been an official session list posted, this is surely meant to encourage designers to apply for registration before the window closes on Friday.
Earlier today, Google released a dedicated camera app into the Play Store. This would have been news on its own, as this method of distribution allows for camera updates without having to wait for a new firmware to come along. But the goodies didn't stop there. Google has completely redesigned the app, and while your opinion may vary, here's mine - it's better.
Why, You Ask?
For starters, there's a new lens blur effect that I've already elaborated on in great detail.
Google released the Chrome Remote Desktop extension a while back, but it was designed for use with other computers. That's fine if you have one handy, but your phone or tablet is probably more readily available. I know that 95% of my remote desktop access happens from a mobile device, so it makes sense that Google would have a Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android – it just took a long time to happen.
Along with two new apps, today's Update Wednesday has brought us a new version of YouTube with version 5.6.31. The previous version was 5.5.27, so it became clear right away that we should expect something relatively significant as opposed to simple bug fixes. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disappoint those of you still waiting for offline and screen-off playback - those are not here just yet. There are no major UI changes either.
Most of the time, we execute APK teardowns by comparing the code of older app versions to an updated version. Newly released apps can hold juicy information too, though. We've quickly taken apart Google's newly released camera app and discovered a few tidbits worth mentioning.
Our primary target for this teardown is the strings file. This file holds a wealth of strings not yet revealed in the interface that look like they'll bring missing features back and add some new ones, too.