Google is certainly no stranger to testing new features slowly. Most recently, it released an update to YouTube's UI that's been in testing for at least four months. And for Google, this is a good thing. Testing new features with limited samples of users helps get data not only on their usefulness, but also on how they augment user experience and engagement.
That brings us to the Play Store, an app where nothing is more important than engagement. Google appears to be testing a new feature called "Related Interests," which lists off various categories with round chips similar to the chips used for artists on Google Play Music's web interface. Read More
Since its inception it seems that Inbox, by Google's Gmail team, has had the goal of streamlining your email experience in mind. To accomplish that goal, it makes every email a task, lets you quickly triage messages, and pulls out highlights like reservations, plane tickets, or attachments for faster access. But, according to the official Gmail blog, Inbox is getting one more cool feature starting now: the ability to automatically choose the best snooze date for your messages. For those unfamiliar, a "snoozed" message is temporarily dismissed, bubbling back up to your inbox at the selected date and time.
With this new feature, the app will take a look at certain types of emails to pull out the relevant date and provide a perfect time option in the snooze menu. Read More
In a post to Slack HQ today, the Slack Android team announced that version 2.0 of the chat service's Android app is coming (graduating from the 1.9.9 beta), and so far it looks much better than the current stable iteration. Read More
It seems that while Google hasn't actually released the official announcement yet (it's expected this morning), the Collections feature we've heard so much about in recent days now appears to be going live for some users.
Just in case you were getting comfortable with the YouTube app's latest design, it looks like there may be more changes in store. It seems a number of users are encountering a new YouTube interface, apparently triggered server-side without an app update.
The change sees YouTube's hamburger menu flipping right out of the interface, going the way of Google+ in discarding the left-side navigation drawer. Instead, users are given four primary tabs - Home, Trending, Subscriptions, and your profile. Interestingly, a couple of these tabs seem to have bars underneath to switch from, say, all videos to music on the home tab, or from uploads to channels on the subscription tab. Read More
According to Wayne Piekarski, senior developer advocate for Android, Wear, and Glass, the rollout of OTA updates to Android Wear 5.0 is complete now, meaning all users should have - by this point - had the opportunity to download and install the update if their watch is paired with a phone.
Piekarski reminds watch face makers that time is ticking to migrate their faces to the official Watch Face API. Google says watch faces not using the official API will have support dropped after January 31, 2015.
The OTA updates for Android Wear 5.0 have been rolled out to all users yesterday, so everyone should have been given the opportunity to install the update on their device if paired with a phone.
From a recent teardown of Google+ 4.8, it seemed like Google was preparing to offer bandwidth optimizations in the app, with the option to switch on a data conservation option. It looks like that feature has cropped up (thanks David) now, along with a new gender identity setting brought over from the web.
A few days ago, the Google+ team announced that the service would now accommodate those of any gender, not just male or female, by opening up a "custom" option, as well as a method of indicating one's preferred pronoun (the selection includes male, female, and other). This functionality is now available on the web and in the Google+ app for Android. Read More
Root Checker is a simple little tool that does what it says on the box: it checks whether your phone or tablet (or game console, or set-top-box, or e-reader, or robotic toaster) has root permissions. Those that use it probably only do so for a few seconds once or twice a month. That being the case, it's not a big deal if the app doesn't look good. But that doesn't mean that it can't, right?
The latest version of Root Checker, or at least a version that's rolling out to some users on the Play Store, gives the app a visual makeover. Read More
Nexus 4 owners will be pleased to hear that Lollipop build LRX21T is on its way for their devices. While there isn't a specific time frame for the rollout, Sascha Prüter states in a post to Google+ that the build is "locked and loaded," indicating in the comments that LRX21T is destined for the Nexus 4 some time soon.
Just Nexus 4 for now. Our goal was to use as many letters as possible for all the different devices ;)
Soon, not sure when exactly but shouldn't be too long. Staging the factory images always takes some time.
Hopefully the update lands on the sooner side of "soon," but again we can't know just yet. Read More
About four months ago, Google added Auto Awesome Stories to the Google+ Android app. This feature groups photos taken at roughly the same place and time when you're traveling away from your home area into a nifty slideshow or "travelogue." It looks like someone at Facebook really digs the idea, because we've been alerted by multiple users who say they've seen pretty much the same thing in the Facebook app over the last few days.
Screenshot credit: Shaun McLane
Only a few users seem to be accessing the feature right now. One tipster said that he got a prompt to "view related posts in a slideshow," after which he could scroll through the relevant photos and a rough map of his journey. Read More