Google's developers are back to work now that the holidays (and CES) are over, and the first major app update is here. Maps v9.19 is out and it brings a host of pretty awesome new features. There is a new settings screen for your timeline that gives a bit more control over its operation and what is shown. A new audio toggle has been added to the navigation modes so it's a little easier to quickly shut off those over zealous turn-by-turn notifications. And there's a new driving mode that uses Google's knowledge of your habits and search history to predict where you're going during a drive and volunteer useful information as you drive—if you can get it enabled, that is.
The app updates from the last week seem to be all about where you are, where you've been, and where you're going. It has only been a few days since Google Play services 7.8 began rolling out with a couple of location-related bits hidden inside, and now a new version of Maps is hitting the scene with a host of new features centered around our location history. We can now look back through the places we've visited, when we were last at certain spots, and the routes we've taken.
According to your grandmother, over 96% of kids these days don't know their history and will be doomed to repeat it. Also, no one learns cursive anymore. There's not a whole lot that Google can do about the latter, but with a new search tool, they may be working on the former. Chrome and Search enthusiast Florian Kiersch posted screenshots of a new Knowledge Graph tool that automatically generates timelines of broad historical topics based on content from Wikipedia. The tool appears to be in the early stages of testing, and isn't publicly available.
Search for something like "World War I" and you'll be presented with a layered timeline above your main search results.
Snapchat allows users to send and receive media that disappears after a recipient has opened it, laughed, and - if it's really good - taken a screenshot. It's a nice way to communicate and share content without having to deal with storing and organizing everything that you upload, but sometimes you may want to share a photo with all of your friends at once. Snapchat is rolling out a new feature that lets you share such content for up to 24 hours in a timeline that everyone can see. This timeline is your Story, and Snapchat has released a series of trailers to help you familiarize yourself with it.
No one ever accused Facebook of being swift or thorough with its app updates, but they're at least usually very welcome when they arrive. Back in 2011, the social network introduced 'Timeline', the now-mandatory profile layout that gives you one giant photo at the top, with a secondary profile picture in the bottom-left corner. Up until recently, you couldn't change your cover photo on mobile. Now, in version 2.2, you can.
If there are any other changes to this version, Facebook isn't letting on about it. Here's the entire changelog:
Hi, Android! Sorry your present is a little late, it took a while to wrap it. Five years ago yesterday, Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt joined other members of the newly-formed Open Handset Alliance to announce the Android operating system. Back then, we were still nearly a year away from an actual Gphone (and yes, people really called it that) and Sprint and T-Mobile were the only US carriers even interested. Now, Android is installed on over 400 million devices, nearly every carrier in the world wants a piece of the action, and the platform as a whole is the single largest mobile OS ever.
Straight from the horse's mouth is always the best way to hear about updates, even if it's less-than-stellar news. Today, Sony confirmed its schedule for Jelly Bean updates on its line of phones. For starters, the recently-launched Xperia T and Xperia TX will be upgraded "from mid-Q1 2013." This will put the latest and greatest from Sony a solid six months behind Android 4.1's initial launch and, if our guess is correct, at least a few months behind the possible release of Android 4.2.
After that, the rest of Sony's 2012 lineup, including the Xperia S, Xperia acro S, Xperia ion, Xperia P, Xperia go and Xperia J will all be upgraded to Jelly Bean sometime next year.
So Google Maps hit version 6.8 yesterday, bringing with it the crazy Zagat/Google+ mashup that was detailed earlier. The "What's New" section in the Play Store lists "See reviews from experts and people you know," "Find just the right places with Zagat scores and summaries," "Get directions directly from map bubbles," but they left out the most interesting new change: "Unreleased feature assets buried in the APK."
For starters, we've got some brand new image files. Check these out:
So there's a bunch of fresh files, all called "timeline_something."The XML stretches "timeline_line_mid" vertically, so it clearly connects them.
The title should make this one obvious. HTC has published a brand-new list of its devices to get Android 4.0, but the difference between this one and previous lists is the level of detail. Most phones have a target OTA deployment range of 2 months, significantly more precise than the typical "quarterly" guestimates we see manufacturers publish generally. Here's the list:
DROID Incredible 2 by HTC: To be determined (by the end of August)
HTC Amaze 4G: May-June
HTC Desire S: June-July
HTC Desire HD: July-August
HTC EVO 3D: June-July
HTC EVO 4G+: May-June
HTC EVO Design 4G: June-July
HTC Incredible S: June-July
HTC Sensation: March-June
HTC Sensation 4G: March-June
HTC Sensation XE: March-June
HTC Sensation XL: April-Jun
HTC Rezound: June-July
HTC Rhyme: June-July
HTC Thunderbolt: July-August
HTC Velocity 4G: March-June
HTC Vivid: March-June
A few notable absentees include the Inspire 4G (which is a Desire HD variant), EVO 4G, EVO Shift 4G, myTouch 4G, Status, and Wildfire S - though most of those weren't expected to get the update in the first place.
Motorola has been pretty transparent about the update process to Ice Cream Sandwich, keeping users in the loop regarding when updates for newer devices should be available. In that light, It just posted an updated to its Upgrade News page with a whole slew of new information, including which devices should see ICS before the end of Q2:
Considering it's the only one in the "testing" phase, I wouldn't be surprised if we see the Verizon XOOM get its update first, with the Droid RAZR/MAXX twins following after that. It also looks like Moto has a handful of other devices slated for a Q2 release (which ends in a month and a half), including the international RAZR and XOOM WiFi, as well as the Chinese MT917 and XT928 handsets.