A few days ago, we noticed a new sight in Inbox by Gmail - another FAB. The new floating action button is blue, and exists only to create reminders. Since then, we've received numerous reports of the FAB popping up for more users. Personally, only one of my two accounts has the new FAB, suggesting that this might be a slow rollout or even an A/B test for the new feature.
Just in case you were getting comfortable with the YouTube app's latest design, it looks like there may be more changes in store. It seems a number of users are encountering a new YouTube interface, apparently triggered server-side without an app update.
The change sees YouTube's hamburger menu flipping right out of the interface, going the way of Google+ in discarding the left-side navigation drawer. Instead, users are given four primary tabs - Home, Trending, Subscriptions, and your profile. Interestingly, a couple of these tabs seem to have bars underneath to switch from, say, all videos to music on the home tab, or from uploads to channels on the subscription tab.
Motorola's been planning a soak test for select users of the Moto X 2014 Pure Edition for a little while now, and it looks like it's officially beginning. Earlier this evening, a tipster shared a shot of the update prompt with us, confirming that the test is bringing Android 5.0 Lollipop to the handset, earlier than Google's own OTAs for existing Nexus devices (besides the new Nexus 9 and unreleased Nexus 6). Motorola has itself uploaded release notes for the update, describing some of Lollipop's new treats for Moto X users. Lock screen notifications, interruption control, screen pinning, and other features we've come to know appear to be in tow.
Numerous users have come to us with reports of an option to enable a home button appearing on Chrome's settings page. None of us at Android Police have personally seen this item pop up on our devices, but if it's going out as a limited test, this wouldn't be at all out of the norm. The user who submitted the shots below, taken on an LG G3, says the option doesn't appear on any of his other devices despite having the same (stable) version of Chrome installed.
Once enabled, the option tosses a home button into Chrome's toolbar. It appears to the left of the URL.
Regular followers of the Android world know that manufacturers love to skin Google's mobile operating system for the sake of differentiation. As dramatic as Samsung and HTC can get, the Chinese OEMs sometimes take it even further, perhaps because Chinese users don't have official access to the Play Store and Google apps (making compatibility and certification less problematic). OPPO seems to be going even further than that: a new post on the company forum is recruiting testers for ColorOS on, of all things, the LG G2.
ColorOS is OPPO's super-customized build of Android. It's either a skin or a fork, depending on how you look at it.
The folks over at Laptop Mag have undertaken a test that really piques our interest. The results show that T-Mobile smartphones consistently get the best battery life among the big four US carriers. The difference isn't insignificant either. We're talking about a steady gap of up to three hours, depending on the phone.
In the chart below we see variation between the 2013 and 2014 versions of Samsung and HTC's flagships. The starkest void is noticeable on the S4, where T-Mobile pulled in 6 hours and 42 minutes compared to the 4 hours and 1 minute of the second-place competitor, AT&T.
Update, 7-25-14: A Carnegie Mellon representative informed us that in fact the Duolingo Test Center results will not factor into determining an applicant's English skills, it will merely be used in research to test the exam's effectiveness, at least at the moment.
Carnegie Mellon, a global research university that attracts student applicants from around the world, is the first academic partner of Duolingo for the English language certification exam.
In this role, the university in the coming year will encourage applicants and newly admitted students to take the online exam as part of a research study. The exam results will not be used as the basis of admission decisions during this period; rather, CMU would perform research into the stability, reliability of the test and its correlation with TOEFL iBT, an established English proficiency test.
At Google I/O last week, Google announced Project Volta, its effort to change and drastically improve how Android manages battery life. Since then the folks over at Ars Technica have downloaded the publicly available L developer preview build and put it through its paces. Is there a noticeable difference? Yes, apparently. They were able to get an an extra two hours of battery life out of their Nexus 5, an improvement of thirty-six percent. Regardless of how exact these numbers are, the difference suggests good things.
For the process, Ars used a single device, flashed to 4.4.4, signed in, updated apps, charged up, and ran the test (which keeps the screen on and automatically loads a webpage over Wi-Fi every 15 seconds until the battery dies).
Clash of Clans fans will find a lot of familiarity in Boom Beach, a similar title from Supercell with more conventional characters and weapons. This tower defense and tower attack game has become popular very quickly on iOS, and now it's available on Android... if you happen to be in Finland or Germany. (A limited geographical rollout is typical for testing.) If you've got access to this early version of the game, have fun: it's a free download.
Boom Beach pits thinly-veiled cartoon effigies of the US and Nazi Germany against each other. The primary single-player game has you commanding troops that storm the beaches of a fictional archipelago, which are basically short, encapsulated base attacks from any real-time strategy game you'd care to mention.
Version 5.7 of the YouTube Android app introduced the ability to select precisely which quality level you want to stream a video in, as long as that level was 720p or lower. Even then, the options skipped from 360p to 720p. Since that release, users have apparently started to see 480p appear in between the two. Not only that, 1080p has shown up as well.
We haven't been able to get the settings to load on our devices, but some of you have reported having better luck. This means that Google is testing the additional options, but the company isn't yet ready to roll them out to everyone.