One of the draws of having a personal assistant is being able to control various things through it. Alexa is popular partially for this reason and Google Home/Assistant has been slowly catching up since its launch. Just a few weeks ago, our very own Cody noticed that Google was implementing direct support for IFTTT in the Google app for user-defined actions. Well, this has finally appeared in the Home app in a "Shortcuts" menu in the Assistant section. Read More
There's an update for Google Maps v9.43 rolling out to beta testers. This one isn't loaded with changes, but there are a few things worth checking out in this release. There have been a couple of changes to the notification options in the Settings screen and a new home screen shortcut is now available. A deeper look through a teardown reveals plans to display recommended dishes from the menu. There is also some follow-up to an odd teardown topic from a few weeks ago. Read More
Launcher app shortcuts, those neat little pop-ups for compatible apps that allow quick access to deeper app functions, are currently restricted to Android 7.1 on the Pixel phones and dev previews. As for everyone else, the tireless developer of Nova Launcher has you covered. Version 5.0 still isn't up in the public Play Store, but the beta version has been adding bits and pieces of Pixel Launcher functionality. The latest update includes the much-celebrated launcher app shortcuts. 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
Part 1 of this teardown broached the subject of a new set of circular launcher icons Google is creating for use on the homescreen, possibly just for the Pixel Launcher. It likely speaks to future plans for the look and feel of Android, but there's no denying that new icons are cosmetic – they don't actually do anything. Part 2 of this teardown switches over to the functional side as evidence shows Launcher Shortcuts will return with Android 7.1.
The Launcher Shortcuts API was introduced with the second Android N Developer Preview and quickly gained attention as a spiritual copy of the Home Screen Quick Actions introduced with iOS 9, and inspired many theories that pressure-sensitive screens would become a standard in Android. Read More
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.