The Touchless Control feature on the Moto X and Verizon's 2013 DROIDs (Ultra, Maxx, and Mini) is already one of the coolest Android manufacturer add-ons around. Today it gets just a little cooler: the Touchless Control app was updated to add a "What's up" command. This voice command will make your phone read out the unread notifications in your status bar. This should be great for hands-free updates while driving. Or bathing.
Lockscreen feeling a little boring? Why not toss the whole thing out and try something different? Many third-party lockscreens are a bit awkward and lack features, but SlideLock seems like it does some cool stuff. SlideLock stands in for your stock lockscreen and replicates the notifications from the notification shade so you can deal with them without unlocking the phone.
SlideLock has a clean interface with a clock, date, and custom (optional) status bar.
The latest update to the immensely useful Pushbullet app introduces the ability to fully sync your Android device's notification drawer with Chrome on your computer. Previously, users could only watch phone or tablet notifications pop up on their desktop, with a recent version adding the ability to dismiss them from either device. Now Chrome's notification center will fully sync up with your phone's drawer, allowing you to manage alerts even after they've faded from the screen.
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.
PushBullet version 12.2 has just hit the Play Store, and it brings with it a healthy selection of incremental updates that round out an already pleasant user experience. One new such feature is the ability to set how long mirrored notifications stick around on your computer before fading away.
The app also now shows upload progress when pushing a file and gives users the ability to tap a download to cancel it.
One of the Moto X's defining features is Active Display, which lights up the phones screen to display notifications such as messages, missed calls, and the like. That functionality is now the latest Motorola feature to enter the Play Store, where it's easier for the Google-owned company to distribute timely updates and fixes. Speaking of which, the version to land in the Play Store should remove the 1 - 2 second delay some users started encountering when swiping to unlock following the KitKat update.
If you're a regular user of the iHeartRadio service, there's a big update waiting for you in the Play Store. The most useful addition in the new version of the Android app is undoubtedly the expanded control options: you can now pause, play, or advance your streaming music on the lockscreen or the new notification. The notification is even expandable - are you watching this, Pandora?
The user interface gets a fancy new slide-out menu, accessible from the main player and home screens.
The Galaxy Gear is twice the price of the Pebble and pricier than both iterations of Sony's SmartWatch, but it isn't necessarily a more complete product. A particular sore spot is how the watch handles notifications, limiting not only which apps can send them, but not actually displaying the contents for most apps. The latest update to the Galaxy Gear Manager app alleviates this somewhat. Now users can pick which apps send messages to the Gear and even read the contents on the watch itself.
Now that KitKat is finally out in the world, we're finding all sorts of little tweaks that make the new OS nicer to use. Google didn't give this particular feature a big headline on the Android site, but maybe it should have. Android 4.4 now lets you access your notifications from any full-screen app. This is a feature Samsung has included in TouchWiz for a while, so it's not entirely new to the world of Android.