The Google app went through a major version bump to 7.0 and began rolling out to the beta channel a couple of days ago. A bit of digging around turned up a few new settings, but nothing that explains why the version number went up on this release. Along with the new features, a teardown also raises some light on a few things we can look forward to in the future, including some vital improvements for Services accessed through Google Assistant and what may be a new type of device. If you're not part of the beta channel, you can grab the latest version of the Google app – now with fewer crashes – from APK Mirror.
One of the more interesting behind-the-scenes additions in Android 5.1 is a new carrier provisioning API that provides functionality which likely benefits carriers and customers alike. Any time you join a carrier, you get services along with your account, whether it's Play Store billing, visual voicemail, premium subscription services billed to your account, or any number of other things. For as long as Android has existed, the methods used to provision these services on a customer's account have varied widely from carrier to carrier, and there was no standard way of doing it.
While this normally wouldn't be an issue on carrier-branded phones or tablets, what happens when you bring an off-contract AT&T phone over to T-Mobile, or you buy a Nexus phone that doesn't have carrier-specific framework APKs installed?
Sunrise, a thoughtfully-designed calendar app that only recently made the jump from iOS to Android, got a bump up to version 1.1.0 today, bringing with it new integration for a variety of services including Songkick, Tripit, Evernote, Github, and Asana. Basically, this integration provides syncing between the services and Sunrise, where the calendar app can grab reminders from Evernote automatically, your Tripit plans and trips will automatically populate, Songkick concerts will show up like magic, and Github or Asana changes will be synced (in both directions).
Some apps, like Tripit, can already integrate with your Google calendar account, so those who already use that feature may find some redundancy in Sunrise's new functionality.
A few days ago, it was confirmed that Google had started asking manufacturers to brand boot animations with a specific "Powered by Android" lockup as part of Google's Mobile Services license. Samsung's Galaxy S5 and HTC's new One M8 both carry the branding, and today Motorola's Moto X and Moto G have joined the party, but Motorola has something else in store as well - a new boot animation just in time for April Fools Day. The animation features a UFO, bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster, all exposed by Motorola's spotlight. Check out the full sequence below.
The updated animation sequence comes in an update to Moto's Boot Services app on the Play Store.
One of the fundamental differences between Android and every other mobile operating system is the practically unrestricted capability to run services. Without this freedom we could not enjoy something as powerful as a homescreen widget or as straight-forward as a Twitter client with background updates. Aside from games and very simple utilities, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find an app that doesn’t run a service, at least for a short span of time. However, a bug has snuck into recent versions of Android and it can cripple background processing in some apps and widgets.
Note: There are some technical details ahead, some of which may only matter to developers.
If you're the sort who already worries Google has too much of your personal information, this is not for you. For everyone else, Google is reportedly developing a new opt-in data collection service that will reward users for passing additional mobile usage data back to Mountain View. The so-called Mobile Meter app is expected to come to both Android and iOS.
Android already provides Google with various bits of data like location and search activity. Mobile Meter would presumably go much farther, perhaps monitoring which sites you visit and which apps you're using. The data would be anonymized and fed into the Google machine so that it may better understand us.
For the uninitiated, 2Checkout is a web-based storefront service that allows users to both create an online checkout system for their products as well as handle merchant services like credit card payments. If you've ever tried to set up your own shop, you know how difficult it can be to get all the moving parts together. Now, 2Checkout is making it even easier with the release of its mobile app that will allow sellers to track sales, issue refunds, and even contact customers.
If you're already a 2Checkout user, the company notes that your existing logins via the Back Office API won't work.
One of the most common questions users have regarding Google's various content offerings is "Why isn't it available in [insert any number of countries here]?" Google has been working to change that, offering more and more of the Play Store's non-app content abroad. In that spirit, today it announced that Google Play Movies is now available in Korea (where we saw Eric Schmidt having some Gangnam style fun earlier this week).
We’re adding movies to Google Play in Korea, including films from Korean studios & Hollywood. Get started with Avengers:goo.gl/4Alrd
According to the announcement, Korea's Play Movies includes "hundreds of full-length feature films from some local Korean studios and Hollywood." The post goes on to invite users to start their movie enjoyment with The Avengers.
Just after initially unveiling Google Play Services, Google has made the APK installable directly from the Play Store.
For those who missed the announcement, Google Play Services is an APK rolling out automatically to devices running Android 2.2+ that will allow Android apps to easily integrate with Google services like Google+. At present, the app (which is in version 1.0 "Asiago") includes components and relevant client APIs for OAuth 2.0 authentication, Google+ sign-in, and Google+ +1 buttons. Google assures users that "we anticipate more Google services to be continuously added, so be on the lookout for these updates."
The Google Play Services app began rolling out through the Play Store automatically, primarily in order to keep updates to the service independent of carrier or OEM updates.
Have you ever seen a mind-blowing app that's sure to change the way you use Android... only to be discouraged by a $6.99 asking price? Or maybe one of your regular apps has updated and broken some core functionality, and you have to uninstall it and just wait for the next version. Now there's a service that will keep tabs on your somewhat neglected apps and convert it into an RSS feed for your favorite reader. AppFeed.net is free, easy and an absolute lifesaver if you're not in the habit of constantly checking the Google Play Store.