There's a new version of Android Auto rolling out and this one is definitely worth the download. Version 2.2 brings one of the most requested features to the Auto interface since it was launched: Notifications can now be swiped away from the overview screen. There's also a new option to disable messaging notifications, which might help if those have been getting in your way. As usual, grab the latest update from the link at the bottom if it's not already rolling out to your phone.
SwiftKey updated its beta app with a new flow experience more than a week ago and has since started rolling that to stable users (though not everyone seems to have it just yet). But unlike many updates, this one has loyal users up in arms and hating every single bit of the change. As a result, the SwiftKey Support forum is full of complaints and the feature has been downvoted to -39 (minus 39) points, the Play Store listing is overflowing with people revising their reviews and giving it 3 or 5 stars, and the most loyal of users are either uninstalling the app or threatening to do so.
Apps with tens of millions of users tend to either spend a lot of time and effort conforming to Android's visual standards... or spend none at all, considering their own cross-platform UI more important. Dropbox has tended to fall into the former category, but it's taken them a while to get on board with the Material Design standards introduced with Android 5.0. That changes today: version 126.96.36.199 adds a new UI that follows the Material Design playbook. For the most part, anyway.
Old interface above, new below.
The app opens up to your root Dropbox folder, and the tabbed interface is gone - if you want to look at your files in the Photos or Favorites view, you'll have to open the side menu.
Drupe would like you to think that contacts on Android, and on mobile in general, are broken. They're not - phone makers and developers have been doing this for a while, after all - but that doesn't mean that they can't be improved upon. Drupe is a "floating" app that puts contacts, and the means to do all sorts of interesting things with them, in a unique overlay accessible from any other app. Check it out in action in the video below.
To activate Drupe, just tap the translucent triple-dot activation point in any app. A list of your favorite contacts (or groups of contacts) will appear along the left side of your phone's screen, with a list of communication apps on the right.
Today we've got a quick tip for Chrome - a new method of switching between what we'll call "sibling tabs" in Chrome for Android when you've got apps and tabs merged.
First, what are sibling tabs? In Chrome on Android Lollipop, when users have tabs and apps merged (so Chrome tabs show up in the overview space), tabs opened using the "open in new tab" action will group together with the parent tab, making a nice little group that will stick together as you scroll vertically.
Now here's the tip: when you are looking at one of these grouped tabs, a simple swipe across Android's system navigation bar will jump between those tabs.
In case you haven't noticed, we love tiny details that make our everyday lives as Android users better. (And really, in case you didn't notice that, I'll show you the door — it's that X button next to the tab title up there in your browser.) Our friendly Android 5.1 tipster Ramit Suri loves them too, so much in fact that he noticed a teeny tiny detail on the lockscreen.
In Android 5.0, if you open the Quick Settings panel (henceforth referred to as QS) from the lockscreen, you would have to swipe the QS closed, then swipe again to unlock.
One of the things I love about Android is the way it allows fantastic customization of its user interface, even without root or other major modifications. Take App Swap for example: this handy little app drawer replacement can launch either from a standard shortcut on your launcher (or alternative methods like SwipePad) or it can replace the default Google Now swipe-up-from-the-home-button gesture.
The latest update to this tool adds an even more useful feature: Quick Swipe. This allows users to swipe left or right from the pop-up app drawer to instantly go to the apps of their choice. Essentially it's an even faster way to get to your two most-frequented apps.
Feedly has become the new darling of the RSS world after Google threw itself out of the market last year, but there are still plenty of users (including yours truly) who aren't crazy about the Feedly app itself. Hopefully the changes shown off in the newest beta release will change that. You can check out the beta via the usual Google+ community method: join this community on Google+, then head to this page in the Play Store.
The biggest user-facing change is "speed reading," which is a bit of a misnomer - it's basically a forward/back function. Tap on the left or right side of an article near the edge of the screen and you'll automatically move to the next or last item in the RSS feed.
There are more than a few music players available for Android, but you could search the Play Store for days without finding one quite so full-featured as Music Player (Remix). The developer seems to have thrown every possible bell and whistle into the local playback app, and topped it off with a swipe-based interface and some impressive extras. It's available in the Play Store for $4.99, with a 14-day trial app available as well.
The core app is fairly typical as far as music players go, with some playlist management that's particularly interesting. The interface is based on swipes: swipe up from anywhere in the app to view the Now Playing screen, swipe from the right for your library, and swipe from the right for playlists and favorites.
The creators of Sporos (which found a place in our top seven games list from February) today released their latest creation – Alien Hive. The game is based on the familiar "match three" dynamic, but don't be fooled – Alien Hive isn't just another Bejeweled clone. Hive adds several interesting gameplay elements that put a new twist on the genre, keeping it challenging and entertaining. Best of all, the game can be played at your own pace – there's no pressure to be super speedy about swapping tiles.
If you couldn't tell from the video, the general objective in the game is to slide various seeds and eggs around to evolve alien life forms into more and more advanced beings without running out of energy, using powerups like blasters or worm holes to help along the way and eliminating pesky robots that will grab hold of your developing aliens.