While Google Assistant is rolling out to more devices, Microsoft is continuing to improve its own virtual helper. Microsoft's Cortana assistant made the jump to Android in 2015, and has continued to improve since with regular updates. The latest update, version 2.5, allows users to add Cortana to the lockscreen. Read More
There were some interesting features announced as part of the launch of Google's Pixel phones. While some are exclusives to the new handsets, others are a part of the new Android 7.1 Nougat. One of the headlining features for the new OS version is the App Shortcuts API, a way for apps to offer fast access to select screens and functions. If you've been looking forward to trying it out, the Google Now Launcher in combination with today's developer preview fully supports app shortcuts and there's already plenty of examples to try out. Read More
Google Maps made it into the update cycle this week, bumping the version number up to 9.39. This update appears to be a bit lighter than many from the last few months, but it's not completely lacking improvements. There's a new shortcut that can be used to jump directly into the traffic screen. A quick teardown also reveals a potential improvement to the busyness chart on many locations. As always, we've got a link below to pick up the APK. Read More
We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs. However, there is one potentially handy new feature making an appearance: home screen shortcuts.
This is the semi-official changelog:
- Home icon support: Get direct access to a news edition or topic by adding an icon to your device home screen.
The updates came rolling in quickly this morning. Among them was a fresh bump to Google's Inbox app – the email app for people without time for email. This release was a little light on truly new features as far as the main interface is concerned, but it finally brought a feature to light we've been expecting for a few months: home screen shortcuts to jump straight into writing a new email or scheduling reminders.
The new shortcuts are called Compose and Reminders. They were first revealed during a Teardown of Inbox in early March and they appear to work as expected. Read More
It looks like Google is performing some surgery on the Google bar, the familiar toolbar that appears across the top of many of Google's web properties (including Chrome's new tab page). Until recently, the bar held a G+ sharing shortcut, a profile switcher, an "app drawer" to switch between Google products, and a link shortcut to your Google+ profile.
Today it looks like two of those things have been axed - specifically the Google+ link and the sharing shortcut.
Of course, while "Google+ is dead" sentiments have been floating around virtually since the service's inception, we'll resist the urge to speculate about the rationale behind removing Plus-specific functionality from the bar for now. Read More
Most of our readers consider themselves power users, and rightly so. Perhaps you don't have a spare 1.8 seconds to laboriously tap the Home button, then the app launcher, then that app you use every third Tuesday. Well, obsessive customizers, your new best friend on the Google Play Store is FlipLauncher, a free app that embeds up to five completely adjustable launcher ribbons over any and every part of Android.
Don't let its admittedly plain looks fool you: FlipLauncher is surprisingly versatile. By default, it puts five candy-colored tabs on the left side of your screen. Swipe right on any of them to open up a ribbon, which can hold four apps or shortcuts. Read More
If you are anything like me and you own the keyboard dock for the Asus Transformer, then you probably keep it attached the majority of the time. The dock gives you quick access to the home, search, and menu shortcut keys, but what about the recent apps button? Unfortunately, a hardware button was not included. Although it is not much work to just tap the on-screen button since it is just a few inches away, it can still be annoying.
Instead, the Android 3.2 update brought us something a lot of us are already very familiar with - Alt+Tab. Keep holding Alt down and press Tab to cycle through the eight recent apps. Read More