A new update to Google Maps began rolling out late last night to members of the beta channel. This one is arguably light on notable changes, except that there is one feature that may go live in the next few days: Commuting. It was at least briefly live before being disabled remotely. There are also several new topics for a teardown, including more points for longer reviews, new badges, and more.
Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)
Commuting (coming soon?)
Another notification channel for timeline notifications (fixed in 9.63.1)
In its quest to make our lives easier, Google has recently taken on the travel industry by giving us search tools for flights and hotels, as well as an app to help us plan and organize trips we've already booked. Google Search already shows when a slight adjustment to travel dates can save us money, but now it's adding more robust tools for people whose travel dates are more flexible.
Google has added a few entertaining Easter eggs to Google Assistant since its release, including fully interactive quiz games. In the spirit of the season, a few new holiday-related commands have made their way to Google Assistant.
Christmas is coming, but many family members won't get to spend this time face to face. Millions will be placing phone calls, and another large number will be hopping on Skype. The latest update adds more ways to integrate Skype into your holiday plans.
You've decorated your house, you've put on a festive watch face, you can't help but see red and green Christmas stuff everywhere you go, so what about decorating your phone's messenger app? After all, this is probably the thing you look at most during the day, so adding some jolly good spirit would go a long way in making the holiday charm follow you all the time. Facebook agrees and so it has updated its Messenger application with lots of customization options and some end-of-year themed options.
Christmas is coming. You can sit around next to a paper calendar, crossing out the days, or you can put on a seasonal album and start moving.
Don't have any Christmas albums? I know, it's not exactly what comes to mind for many of us during the rest of the year (hey, not everyone has the urge to play Jingle Bells in July). Fortunately Google is looking out for you. You can currently download two merry albums for free on Google Play.
There's little going on in the world of Android at the moment, and the holidays are why. Today many of us are celebrating New Year's Eve, so instead of major software updates, we get themed selfies. People firing up the Facebook Messenger app are seeing the option to celebrate the new year with a photo pop up at the top of their screens. Clicking the banner activates the front-facing camera and applies a festive overlay.
That's right, the news is so slow today that you get a post about Facebook Messenger and selfies. Android nerds are scoffing so hard right now that I can hear them through my computer (including my co-workers).
Sometimes you have to wonder if bombastic T-Mobile CEO John Legere actually believes the hyperbolically aggressive language he spews at his competitors. Then you watch something like this "Uncarrier Holiday" video, and you no longer have to wonder. This man appears to have a plush ornament of himself on his Christmas tree.
Legere doesn't tell us anything we don't already know as he lambasts AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint while rhyming about T-Mobile's speed, rollover data, and customer service. (You'll note he's uncharacteristically silent about T-Mo's less-than-stellar coverage area.) But we can't deny that he's much more fun to watch than any of his white collar contemporaries.
Google Now is never short on surprises. The personal assistant/wizard living in Google's Search app (technically it's Google's "Google" app now) can do some amazing tricks, and no matter how long you've used the app, there are always new features being discovered, added, or improved.
One such feature that's come to our attention is Google's ability to show you a countdown to important events based on your reminders. Basically, if you have a reminder related to an event Google knows about (like Christmas, for instance), Google will pick up on that and - on your reminder card - serve you a countdown.
Do you wish to display your love of Google-branded operating systems to your friends and loved ones, but find Hallmark's selection of nerdy ornaments unaccountably lacking? Then Dead Zebra has your back. They're selling a modified special edition of the ever-shifting Android figurine that's been modified into a Christmas tree ornament. You can pick up one of these shiny fellows in red or blue for $10.
There's a limit of two single ornaments for each order, but if you need enough to make your tree positively spangled with tiny toy robots, there's also a "Tree Pack." It includes five red and five blue ornaments for $90, a 10% saving.