Google Photos may have started as a part of Google+, but since splitting into a standalone product, it has to move quickly to introduce new features and improvements to keep users engaged. The latest update to v1.5 didn't bring any visible changes to the app, but it does include evidence of some interesting changes we can look forward to in upcoming releases.
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... You'll see soon enough <wink>. But, we've finally got something to talk about with the latest release of Google Play services 6.5. Strictly speaking, a few of tidbits to follow were actually first seen in different minor releases of 6.1, but we're putting it all together here.
Google has just announced its second new app in one day, releasing Google My Business to the Play Store. With the goal of "helping your business shine," My Business offers smart insights for your Google-connected business. From Google+ page insights to the ability to update your company's information, My Business helps you find and connect with "your people."
The app offers insights on your business' appearance in search, how users interact with you on Google+, and how you're displayed in services like search and Maps, with the option to update your information any time. My Business also has quick access to your Google+ page for quick business-related sharing on the go.
A new "People" section has popped up inside the Android Play Store app, and it doesn't require an update to hop into (we're still using 4.6.17). This corner of the market will point you towards other Android users, particularly those in your circles, and offer a look at what apps and content they're using. The area is accessible right from the app's sidebar, and it's significantly glossier than the similar "From familiar faces" section of the Play Store's home page.
The feature integrates with Google+, pushing you to follow users or view their full profiles. Within the Play Store app, the focus is entirely on content.
Perhaps the most time-saving key on the Android keyboard is the microphone, but using it is more hassle than it's worth when certain words just refuse to be recognized. More often than not, these words are contact names. Luckily, there is a way to trick your phone into recognizing even the most tongue-twisting of names. If you're tired of your phone turning "Demonte Jones" into "Demon's bones," just teach it to recognize the latter as the former. Granted, this might be a problem when you're texting a friend the location of a secret item in your favorite MMORPG.
The instructions are pretty straightforward:
Open up the People app and find your desired contact.
Talkray, from the makers of the incredibly popular touch-talk app TiKL, is an ambitious app – it looks to be your one-stop shop for mobile communication on the go, communicating through text, pictures, videos, and voice all for free. Until now, though, the app has had a fatal flaw – its design. While not the worst design we've seen, Talkray had, shall we say, unfortunate looks. Inconsistent styles, gradients mixed with flat elements, and Gingerbread-style tabs abound.
In its latest update (to version 1.17) though, the app underwent a bit of beautification, bringing it closer to a true holo standard. The redesign isn't perfect, but it's undeniably better.
January, like most months, had plenty in the way of new apps and games. We've already published our list of the top five games from last month, so it only seems right that we follow up with the month's best apps.
From backup utilities to social/RPG/motivational fitness apps, January 2013 had something for everyone. In the interest of saving our readers time, energy, and perhaps some money, we've rounded up the six very best apps every Android user should know about from the past month.
File this one under How did Google not have a test for this? Got a birthday or anniversary in December? Sorry - Android 4.2 doesn't know what December is. Well, rather the People/Contacts app that comes stock and is part of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) doesn't. Wait... what?
We couldn't believe it either, but it's true. Google forgot to include December. As in, there are 11 months in a year. January after November. Christmas is ruined. Santa is dead. At least we'll save money on buying presents, right?
We verified this on a Nexus 7 and a Nexus 10 running 4.2.
We've already heard that Google was expanding their Play Movies and Play Music services today to new countries and with new content. Play Magazines isn't getting left out in the cold, though. Today, the storefront is opening up to our neighbors up north, in addition to signing extra content partners for a more robust distribution platform.
As part of the huge announcement Google put together, the company touted its magazine partnerships:
We’re now working with Time, Inc. to bring you even more magazines like InStyle, PEOPLE, TIME and others...We’re now working with all...the major U.S. magazine publishers."
We're definitely pleased with the major expansions that have been happening today.
The original Sims was the last Sim game I played. It had two expansions and didn't extend very far beyond a single neighborhood, but the things you could create and play around with in it were fantastic. The Sims Free Play has stuck to its roots with a similarly engaging and surprisingly powerful game for a mobile platform.
The Sim games are, at their heart, about creativity. The Sims for Android packs a lot of the same creativity tools from earlier Sim games. I was surprised to find that all of the same functions from the first game—character creation, house design, landscaping and architecture toys—were not only present, but have a huge library of options to choose from.