Since Google Maps got its update to version 9.1 yesterday, we've been taking a closer look to figure out exactly what's new, and - of course - taking a quick look inside as well.
So far, it doesn't seem like a huge update, but there's at least one big change worth highlighting. In 9.1, Maps will provide helpful information about your destination or a location you look up. The app will give you the current weather and time at the given location, and will provide some fun facts too.
Joining the likes of other Google apps like Play Movies, Play Books, and Play Music, and Facebook's Messenger app, Google Play Newsstand became the latest Google app to reach the 500 million download mark, reaching it some time this month. This number obviously reflects only downloads/installs, not active users, but it's still an impressive figure.
Of course this count is including downloads from the days when Newsstand was still Google Play Magazines, before it superseded both Magazines and Currents as Google's de facto news-and-magazine reader.
Half a year ago, Google purchased Divide, a security-focused startup that isn't exactly a household name in the consumer space. The company appealed to enterprise clients by separating personal data from work-related stuff using containers. The acquisition, we figured, came as part of Google's efforts to make Android a better option for corporate users that have traditionally acted squeamish towards the mobile OS.
Now we're seeing at least one byproduct of that arrangement.
Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects...
In an interesting bit of news this evening, it looks like Google has opened up merchant support to China, allowing developers to distribute free or paid apps, in-app purchases, and subscriptions in over 130 countries.
The news comes in a post to Google's official Android Developers blog, which goes on to explain that Chinese developers distributing paid apps through the Play Store will receive payment via wire transfer to a Chinese bank account in USD.
The debate between physical and digital books is a heated one. Some people prefer the look of a tome on their bookshelf and enjoy the smell of each page as they hold their nose to an old favorite. Others like the convenience that comes with having access to an entire personal library of books whenever and wherever they have their phone. One clear disadvantage of digital books, though, is the ability for a single company to determine when and where you can buy them.
We've all seen it happen. A great technology, service, or platform comes out, but without a solid base of users and apps, it fails to gain traction. Google wants to see the Fit API work out, and developers have been called upon to help make that happen. If you know how to write an Android app, and you've got a great idea for something that will get people off the couch and into the gym, you're invited to join the Google Fit Developer Challenge.
When you've already created a browser-based interactive experience that lets players explore a 3D recreation of various locales spread throughout Middle-earth, how do you up your game? You add multiplayer. At least, that's what Google's decided to do. The company has updated its "A Journey Through Middle-earth" Chrome experiment with the ability for players to challenge each other to a bout of Hobbit-inspired fun.
Google developers designed the game using web technologies such as WebRTC and WebGL.
For a limited-time, Google is willing to pay people to invite their friends to use Wallet. The tech giant will provide you and the recipient with $5 in credit whenever a friend who doesn't already have a Google Wallet balance receives money from you. Any amount is fine, including as little as a penny. All that matters is that you both live in the US and that they don't already have an account.
Those lucky few who were able to order a Nexus 6 from the Play Store in that first round should have a surprise on their doorsteps very soon. Buyers started getting shipping notifications last night indicating the devices are on the way.