It has been a little quiet on the app front today, but it is in fact Update Wednesday. There's a new version of Hangouts available for download right now, and it has at least one useful tweak. Presumably there are also some bug fixes and other under-the-hood changes.
Today, Google officially announced
Gmail Blue Inbox, a service we posted about just last night. Previously codenamed Bigtop, Inbox by Gmail is a full reimagining of how an email product should work, and how users should interact with their email.
It is really rare for a product to come out that actually reimagines something rather than just claiming it does, but Inbox is really a fresh take on... the inbox.
Google is rolling out a big update to the Google Earth app, and as usual it's a staged deployment. Never fear, we are here with an APK download. In this new version (8.0) you'll find better 3D images, cleaner maps, KML import, and more.
Google hasn't updated the changelog on the Play Store yet, but there's a whole blog post about Google Earth v8.0. The gist of it is that 3D images will look much better now with the new rendering engine.
Google has just launched a new email system, but you can only get on in by requesting an invitation or being sent one from a friend. No, it's not 2004, it's Google's new Inbox system, an alternative to Gmail and a new way to look at electronic messaging in general. We've highlighted the new system before its official release, but now you can get it for yourself... if you're lucky enough to get through the invitation system.
Update: It's live.
Last night, we revealed a project codenamed Bigtop that Google has been working on for a few years. And now, I feel confident enough to announce that it's launching later today as 'Inbox by Google' (not to be confused with Inbox).
According to multiple sources, the service, which has been in development since 2012, is going to be invite-only at launch, just like Gmail was, and will at first target Gmail users.
Google is pretty well known for building a fast and (usually) reliable infrastructure that can stand up to just about anything short a certain Nexus launch. This is why it came as no surprise when the tech giant announced its own cloud hosting service during I/O 2012, giving developers a path to tap into some of that power. Since the launch, Google has attempted to make its Cloud Platform product as appealing as possible, but the response has been fairly tepid.
Reaching "Inbox zero" is not an easy task. Especially when there are those emails that might require future action, or those that hang in a nebulous state of still being useful despite the conversation having ended. It's also not very easy to parse out exactly what you need to get done after poring over a page of emails. To address both of these issues (and a few others), Google has been working on a project called Bigtop.
We've already seen about a half-dozen Google apps leaked in a Nexus 6 system dump, but we haven't taken a look at Google Drive yet. The app does have some material design in store though - as with the others - it's still in testing, so anything could change. That said, it's worth taking a look. Google Drive has implemented many of the new material design paradigms that make the app cleaner, leaner, and easier to use.
Have you gotten tired of these app walkthroughs yet? Well, we have one more for right now - Google Play Books. The update to Google Play Books that we're looking at here is - like everything else - pre-release, meaning things could change a little or a lot before the app is actually released. But what we're seeing so far is a minor nudge for the app, bringing it into line with the rest of Google's apps.