The Google Maps app is back again with a fresh update, and this one is certainly interesting. As far as live features go, there are some changes related to navigation that will help keep maps oriented north, even with accidental swipes. A teardown also shows that Google is planning to give advice about parking at different locations, and Local Guides can look forward to status indicators for edits. And finally, there's evidence suggesting the return of Launcher Shortcuts.
- New 'Keep map north up' setting
- Accidental swipe protection for North-up mode in Navigation
Keep map north up
Left: previous version with tilt map toggle. Read More
You may have noticed that if you search for someone you know in the main Google Search app on Android, their name will automatically appear if they're already in your Google Contacts. Those search results might get a bit more useful soon: at least one user spotted some advanced quick shortcuts added to his contacts in the Search bar. As shared on Google+, James Scott Jr. saw links to call, text, or email some of his contacts right there in the search results. Read More
The Photos app saw a small bump to v1.10 yesterday (and a tiny bug fix today), but it seems most people will be hard pressed to find much in the way of changes. However, there seems to be one interesting feature popping up for a very small number of users. If the right circumstances are met, users will have an option to create a tiny floating shortcut to the Photos app over the screen of their camera apps. Yeah, it sounds pretty weird, but it would be useful for apps that don't offer a shortcut of their own.
Thanks, Dominic Witte. Read More
The latest version of Opera has arrived, and it comes containing all the features we detailed when we took a look at the beta build last month. But there was one feature we didn't say much about at the time, and this is the one Opera has chosen to emphasize in its announcement post.
In short, version 32 is eager to sprinkle shortcuts to your favorite sites all over your homescreen. No having to open the browser first and type in URLs. No searching through a list of bookmarks. Just tap on a website's icon as though it were an app, like you would when clicking on a bookmark widget from Chrome or your phone's default browser. Read More
Most of the app updates this week were relatively quiet, with the notable exception of Play Music with its new ad-supported radio feature. That doesn't have to mean some of the updates don't have something new to offer. The Google app (formerly "Search") was bumped up to v4.8 yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have any noticeable changes right now. However, a look under the hood reveals some pretty interesting features on the horizon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. There is always a chance that details may change or plans may be cancelled prior to the launch of a new feature discovered in a teardown.
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
There's a lot to love about Android Wear 5.0.1. The new custom watch face support was just the tip of the iceberg, as we have recently discovered that you can disable Tilt to wake, image searches are more functional, and screenshot support is available but finicky. Another new feature that made it onto Wear 5.0.1 is the new mode switcher for Theatre and Sunlight, both of which are accessible by swiping down on the watch face and scrolling beyond the Mute screen. But it turns out that you don't need so many gestures to enable these modes if you're in a hurry, at least not if your watch has a physical button. Read More
The new Play Store is certainly snazzy, but a lot of the functionality of the older site has been missing ever since it got a fresh coat of digital paint. One of the most bemoaned omissions was contextual keyboard shortcuts, especially handy for touch typists whose fingers never leave the keys. (ThinkPad users, I'm looking at you.) Good news, everyone: as of late yesterday, they're back.
On any single app listing, press the left or right arrow keys to navigate between the posted screenshots. (You may need to click on one first.) Pressing Escape will return the screenshots to the gallery view, or you can just press the left arrow key until it minimizes. Read More
Widgets are an indispensible part of Android for many users, including yours truly. It's just too bad that they're so ugly - who wants to use a 1080p screen for looking at Twitter feeds or checking emails when you could stare at some fantastic wallpaper instead? All joking aside, Popup Widget is a pretty fantastic solution for those who prefer their homescreens without clutter.
It's a simple idea: instead of having a big, space-consuming widget sit there all the time, hide it in a shortcut. Tap the shortcut and the widget appears, then tap somewhere else so that it disappears. Read More
I'm a huge fan of text expanders. Seriously, they are necessary to me. As a regular user of both Mac and Windows, I have sought out solutions on both platforms and rely on them daily. That's why I've always felt horrified that there weren't any great options on Android. After all, mobile devices are already input-impaired, it only makes sense that we need quality shortcuts. As it turns out, such a shortcut has been under our noses for quite some time, tucked away where few would look and only available with the stock Android 4.1 (or higher) keyboard. But, thanks to the newly minted availability of the Google Keyboard on the Play Store, it's time to call out this great little feature. Read More