It's easy not to think about just how much thought and computing goes into everything that Google does, but one of YouTube's latest changes reminds us of precisely that.
Every video on the site has a thumbnail that's supposed to offer you a glimpse into what you're about to watch. A bad image will discourage you from clicking. Good ones lead to more views and greater revenue. So naturally both content creators and Google would prefer to have better thumbnails.
Using deep neural networks, the YouTube team has launched an improved "thumbnailer." Every frame in a video gets evaluated by a quality model and is assigned a quality score.
A dedicated app typically provides a better experience than a mobile site, but there are still plenty of instances where we end up inside the Android version of Chrome. Heck, that's one of the major benefits of owning a smartphone—the entire web is accessible to you throughout most of the day.
Retweeting something on Twitter amounts to taking that person's tweet and sending it out again on your own personal feed. To add something to the message, users have had to do things the old-fashioned way—beginning a tweet with RT and quoting the text manually.
Now Twitter has improved the experience, embedded retweets the way it does photos.
T-Mobile has posted the changelog for an over-the-air update now rolling out to Xperia Z1s owners. The primary new feature is the inclusion of in-flight texting support. This way users can communicate with folks on the ground for free via Gogo thanks to a partnership T-Mobile debuted a couple months back.
This isn't all the OTA has to offer. The update will provide the Xperia Z1s with Wi-Fi calling enhancements, which are always a nice thing to see considering the carrier's reliance on Wi-Fi networks to complement its cellular network.
Owners may also notice both camera and Bluetooth improvements, along with more stable software.
The G3 is LG's current flagship phone, but Sprint is pushing out an over-the-air update that shows some love to 2013's model, the G2, instead. This special delivery will bring in a number of general enhancements that some users may be happy to see. HD Voice is seeing improvements, and there are some LTE-related changes as well. These are joined by a security patch fixing something that's unspecified in the change log. All of this flies in under software version ZVE.
Even though this isn't a particularly massive update, there's still a chance it's going out in stages. That means there's not much you can do to get your hands on it aside from waiting for the notification to appear or pressing the update button and crossing your fingers.
There comes a point in time when an app steps out of the awkward, prepubescent 2.0 years and hits the big 3.0. For Twitch, that time is now. The game broadcast viewing app has transitioned to a whole new version number, and in the process it has matured into something more becoming. The flat, simplistic UI looks like something that should blend right in on modern KitKat devices.
For the sake of comparison, here's how Twitch used to look.
With a UI that ugly, it's no wonder users have spent so much time watching videos. Anything to get away from something so hideous.
SoundCloud has made the jump to version 2.8, bringing along a few new enhancements in the process. Many of them are visual, though the changes are small. Tabs are white now. The explore section introduced in version 2.7 has had the position of artist names and song titles moved around, as have the search results. Speaking of searching, the app has new support for hashtags and recommends a page filled with them when clicking on the search icon.
In addition to these niceties, SoundCloud now supports pulling down to refresh the page. Go ahead, give it a tug.
As always, the goods are available in the widget below.
Plex was one of the early apps to add Chromecast support. This is great, because as a service that takes content stored on one of your computers and makes it accessible anywhere, it's the ideal candidate for Chromecasting. Yet the team isn't settling for simply putting videos up on the big screen, and after the latest update, the app now goes a step further by tossing up detailed information on it while you browse through content on your mobile device.
Plex also now supports displaying photos and pumping music via Chromecast, even going far enough to transcode audio formats that aren't natively supported.
In between those countless hours spent cutting fruit, flinging birds, and laughing at cats, it might be beneficial to put your mind up to something more productive. Lynda.com already provides a way to learn new skills from the comfort of your desk, but its pre-existing Android app could use some tender loving care. Today, it has received it. Lots of it.
The new native app that fits on both phones and tables has more courses, a sidebar for navigating through its content, voice search, and support for playlists. Non-members can browse the library, but you need to sign up for most of the good stuff, along with extra features such as offline viewing.
Pushbullet has received its first update of 2014, and it's one centered around improving the notification mirroring experience. The app, which makes it easy to exchange files and notifications between multiple devices, already allows Google Chrome and Firefox users to have each notification they receive show up on their PC as well. Now notifications that do so can be dismissed from either device. This saves people from reading messages on their desktops but having to reach for the phone to actually clear them.
The pop-up also provides options to prevent notifications belonging to specific apps from being mirrored in the future.