There are a lot of goodies in the newest version of Google Maps, which just started rolling out to devices last week. However, some users are getting a bonus that didn't show up in the changelog. We've been able to get a few confirmations of a new Explore Nearby tool in Maps that offers much more fine-grained control of location-based suggestions.
When the Google Maps Engine app hit Android in late 2013, it enabled users to view and share custom maps. Now an update has landed that empowers them to create and edit such maps as well. Users can spawn new ones, add layers, and move points around as needed. They can then go back and rename aspects as they wish.
The update has also introduced some UI changes, so while it may look largely the same, it's a little cleaner around the edges.
Update Wednesday has gotten off to a slow start, but there's a new Google Wallet version to get things moving. You can now use Wallet to manage your gift cards and request money. As usual, it's US only.
The Chrome developers have released a new version of their browser that may not have a particularly exciting changelog, but it does lead to a better browsing experience. Version 36 should make text on those websites that don't have a mobile alternative render somewhat better. This, combined with non-specified performance improvements and bug fixes, should result in more enjoyable browser use.
Text rendering on a non-mobile website using a previous version of Chrome.
Since the beginning of Google+ itself, the service has required as part of its registration process that users fill out their real names in order to create a profile. Since the beginning of Google+ itself, people have found various ways to skirt this requirement, Google has added support for 'established' pseudonyms, and dropped the real name requirement for Google+ pages.
A lot of this, it seemed, was an effort to reign in the anonymous hate speech and trolling rampant on things like, I don't know, YouTube.
Let's face it, as the world becomes more dependent on computers and the Internet for the functions of day-to-day life, security will become ever more important. Clearly encouraged by employee Neel Mehta's discovery of Heartbleed, Google has decided to do more in the area of Internet security. To help combat this ever increasing problem, they're offering up Project Zero. Essentially, Google will begin hiring "the best practically-minded security researchers and contributing 100% of their time toward improving security across the Internet." Their work will not be limited to just Google products, but will instead be focused on "any software depended upon by large numbers of people." The idea is that researchers will find the threats, then inform only the software developer.
Google Glass hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but it wasn't meant to. It and other projects under the "Google X" team were designed to be experimental, and we're still months away from seeing it hit a retail market at the very least. Even so, the news that one of the original architects of Glass is leaving for the distant shores (if not the greener pastures) of Amazon is a little disheartening.
When we first wrote about Quantum Paper (the internal name for the material in Material Design), we noted that Google was anticipating a series of updates to its own apps between the introduction and completion of the new design direction - updates which would bring the apps a bit closer to the new design style in a progressive fashion, so that the apps wouldn't undergo fundamental transformations overnight.
If you thought (like me) that Update Wednesday had concluded, you thought wrong. It appears Google's also started pushing an update to Google Play Games, bringing the app up to version 2.0 with Level-up notification controls, XP rankings, and a few UI changes.
Readers may remember Quests and Level-up notifications from one of our exclusives last month. The functionality, along with Snapshots, was confirmed in the official announcement of Google Play Services 5.0.
Though we just finished up our rumor recap for pre-I/O leaks and rumors, we've received information regarding Google's plans for the Play Store suggesting that Google may be building cross-device app restoration into the store's Android app.
Information is sparse so far, but from what's available to us, it appears that Google may be working on new functionality to restore apps and "data" to a new device, based on the data accrued on another device.