If you're feeling left out of the Android O party, there's one new thing you may be able to check out that doesn't require flashing a new firmware or having a specific device. The "Recents" search screen that lists all of your previous Google searches on a specific device appears to be going live for everyone - or at least almost everyone on the Google app beta release.
The Android TV interface is easy to navigate. Browse the tiles using the d-pad and enter apps with the Select button. A play/pause button does what it says, and the Home button takes you back to the homescreen. Simple.
But things can still be simpler, so Android N is providing a few more navigation options.
Here's a handy feature in Chrome's implementation on Lollipop. You know how the browser now lets you optionally merge tabs with apps, so that when you tap the multitasking button to view your carousel of recent apps, each open Chrome tab appears as a standalone card instead of all tabs being lumped together under the Chrome card? Well, while this option is rather handy to jump directly back to, say, the Android Police article you were reading rather than your ex' photos on Facebook, it might create a bit of a logistical hell should you also have some incognito tabs open. You can't hide it, I see you were shopping for Selena Gomez T-Shirts on Amazon, again!
Lollipop brings in significant changes to the way Android switches back and forth between recent apps. In KitKat, this feature worked the same way it did in Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jelly Bean. In short, you clicked the third icon in the navigation bar at the bottom, and the recent apps appeared as a list of thumbnails and app icons arranged into a column.
With Android 5.0, the entire look and feel changes. Apps are arranged into pages that you flip through, an effect not radically different from the methods we've seen from previous versions of Sense and other UIs. We showed you this already in our initial hands-on of the Android L Developer Preview several months ago, so here is what's new: a Google Search bar now stretches across the top of the recents screen.
While CyanogenMod is generally regarded as the biggest and best of the innumerable custom ROMs, some of the others tend to implement interesting additions to Android much sooner. The latest nightly builds of CM 11 (Android 4.4) have added something that's not exactly new, but should be very much appreciated by immigrants from other ROMs. Users can now long-press the physical or virtual Recents button to quickly open the last app "under" the current one. Observe:
GIF credit: Wesley J. Marcolino
It's a cool little touch akin to a quick tap of Alt-Tab in Windows. We're actually not sure which competing ROM implemented this first, but in a recent Reddit thread, users of Omni, Carbon, Paranoid Android, and others claim that it's been in their ROMs for a while.
There is a really annoying bug in Android that makes your Home and Recents buttons disappear and prevents the notification shade from working. It only happens after flashing an OS update without wiping, but since I've now run into this issue at least 3 times after updating my Nexus devices, and it's a pain to find any info on how to fix it online, it's time for a quick post.
Specifically, I just flashed the updated LPV81C L preview build on top of LPV79 (again, I did it without wiping data - just open the flash-all script and remove "-w" to do so) and observed the Nexus 5 boot into this:
If the buttons disappear for you for the first time, you will be stumped.
Think of smartwatches now like smartphones were around 2008 - despite the fact that the idea has been around for a long time, everyone is still trying to figure out the best way to go about it. In Android Wear, Google is trying to make a super-simple interface based on short swipes, taps, and voice commands... which leaves a lot of users craving more conventional tools. So we've got a launcher, a web browser, a file explorer (ugh) and now a substitute for the Recent Apps menu in Android OS.
Swipify allows you to swipe in from the right side of the screen to see a radial list of your recently-used apps, along with a readout of your available RAM.
There are a lot of apps like SwipePad, and no matter how many we cover, I keep coming back to the original. Loopr is the first app in a while that's tempted me away, thanks to both an impressive visual presentation and some thoughtful features. At its heart Loopr is a a quick app launcher/switcher with the usual side-swiping mechanism, this time launched as a semicircle of icons similar to Circle Launcher Widget.
You know how this goes: swipe your finger in from the left or right side of the screen, and your apps will pop up in an overlay.