We've been waiting on a big update to Google's search app, having seen screenshots here and there that hinted at an updated design. With today's new Lollipop developer preview, the Google app's 4.0 incarnation was made available. We've got a download at the bottom of the post, but be sure to read the instructions first as getting this up and running on pre-L devices requires some extra fiddling. Also, you'll need to be rooted.
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.
Say it with me now: piracy is bad. There are ways to get free copies of just about everything online, but even setting aside the legal and moral aspects of it, doing so can come with the risk of infecting your computer with something icky or falling victim to a phishing attempt. People who know their way around the woods will continue to be able to take advantage of things, but Google's working on reducing the likelihood that the average user will end up in a place they don't want to be.
Netflix version 3.8 for Android is now available, and it has some considerable improvements over the previous edition. The one you'll probably notice first is that the search function has been revamped: instead of a standard vertical list of movies, television shows, and actors/directors/what have you, you'll now see a grid of results. This mirrors Netflix on the web, though it might be a little slower, since the preview images tend to be a little pokey when they're loading up.
A few users have been reporting a new Google quirk today, but it might not be all that new. An icon has started showing up in search results next to links for mobile-optimized pages. Something like this was in testing as far back as 2012, but this seems to be part of a separate occurrence.
WhoSampled - it's easy enough to guess what the service is about from its name. Touting the "world's largest and richest database of music DNA" and an apparent one million users, WhoSampled sends users on a "journey of musical discovery" starting from a single song that contains a sample from another song.
The service (which began as a website before launching on iOS) gives users detailed sample information, including where in a song a sample appears, what type of sample it is, and what part of the original song is being sampled.
Those willing to venture into chrome://flags can often enjoy experimental treats that haven't made it into default circulation yet. One flag in Chrome, brought to our attention by a tipster, enables "answers in suggest," giving users answers to simple questions right in the omnibar. So if for some reason you're wondering what the capital of Maryland is, or the population of the world, you can get the answer without actually performing a search.
Update 8/21/14: Google today made the feature official by announcing it on the Inside Search blog. Head over to Search -> Settings -> Voice -> Languages to pick your languages.
Anyone who uses more than one language on a regular basis has probably felt some degree of annoyance with Google's voice search system on Android. You have to dig way into the settings to change the language, and there's no way to mix and match.
Google has been doing its best to worm its way into business with Android and Chrome OS. At the same time, HP is anxious to sell more mobile devices based on Android (webOS didn't go so well). It just so happens HP has a lot of experience selling to businesses. According to The Information, the companies have been discussing combining efforts to increase business sales by enabling additional Google Now functionality specifically for business customers.