Google has been increasingly transitioning new features in Android to a more closed model. Whether you're talking about music playback, search, or even the dialer, Google's updated apps have features not included in the Android Open Source Project. The developers of OmniROM are looking to make the handy features of the new Google Dialer available without the proprietary bits, so they're working on an integrated phone number directory without Google.
You're in a restaurant and want to know about its chicken. You could ask the waiter, but considering they're an employee, you can only believe what they're saying but so much. If you want to really know whether this place cooks its chicken better than the joint up the road, then there's really only one source you turn to - Yelp. Okay, it's not the only one, but it's the first that comes to mind, and with the latest update, its mobile app is now even better suited for situations such as this.
Just by tapping the microphone icon in the search bar, English speakers can ask Google any number of questions and have their phone respond in their native language. Thus far, others haven't been so lucky. But now Google is expanding that functionality to more languages. Starting today, French, German, and Japanese speakers shall also be able to ask their Android devices questions and hear answers spoken in the same tongue.
The changes should take place server-side, so you don't have to wait for a update (as long as you already have the latest version, that is).
Say what you will about Microsoft, but they've never let a little thing like a platform war get in the way of profits. The Bing search app for Android has been around for years, long enough for it to accrue more than a million downloads, and today it gets an update to bring it in line with the fancy pants brand re-launch - note the swanky logo.
On Android Bing isn't really a search app, it's more like a beachhead for a handful of Microsoft web properties.
After its update to 5.0 on iOS about a week ago, Pocket has been upgraded for Android as well. I'm a long-time user of Pocket, and while my use case is probably different from the typical user's (there are probably only about 10 items in my list at any given time), it's clear to me that Pocket is always trying to find new ways to make simple save-and-read functionality better and more convenient.
- It officially brings Search version 3 (3.1.8 to be exact) that shipped in KitKat to all devices running 4.1+. This includes an updated UI, new refresh animation, among other things.
- Because Search houses the Google Experience Launcher (GEL) inside, this update also brings GEL to all devices running Android 4.1+. All you need to do after installing Search 3.1.8 is install the launcher app from here, and voila - GEL for all, not just KitKat devices.
Now that the KitKat update has started rolling out to various Nexus devices, we're, unfortunately, seeing no traces of the Google Experience Launcher, which confirms an earlier report stating as much. No GEL means no transparency in the default and a pretty barebones boring AOSP launcher. It also means no Google Now integration and no "Ok Google" hotword support while on any home screen.
Boring Nexus 7 launcher
However, not all is lost.
Google finally unveiled KitKat last week, but you may have noticed something was missing. Yes, there was no news on the so-called Google Experience Launcher. Earlier leaks led us to suspect that Google's homescreen experience was coming to more Android devices, but the big day came and went with no mention. Recent revelations about how the Android 4.4 homescreen works breathe new life into the possibility of a more Googley experience for all.
Google is finally paying attention to the phone app in Android 4.4 by adding smart organization of contacts, enhanced search, and a new card-based UI. However, there might be something more dastardly hiding in the dialer code. Google might be preparing to roll out ads of some sort to the Android dialer.