Google has begun rolling out an update to the Play Services package we all know and love. Details about version 4.4 have already been posted to the Android Developers blog, and it features updates and new features to the APIs for Maps, Mobile Ads, Activity Recognition, plus a few minor fixes for Games Services and Wallet. Aside from general bug fixes, it looks like this update is mostly about giving new tools to developers.
The biggest improvement appears to be a new API for Google Maps that allows developers to expose Street View imagery in their own apps. Developers have always had the ability to incorporate satellite and street maps, but this will be the first time that street-level photos will be directly accessible outside of the Maps application.
The Amazon Android app has just received an update that should affect more than just your shopping. Now the company's apps support single sign-in. When you log into one, you're automatically signed into the other ones that are installed on your device. This works with the main shopping app, Amazon MP3, the Amazon Appstore, and the Kindle app.
Upon my extensive hands-on testing of this complex feature, everything seems to work just fine. When I signed in with the Amazon app and then switched over to Amazon MP3, it detected my account without fuss. After I cleared data and signed in with Amazon MP3 first, the regular Amazon shopping app also signed me in no problem.
Yesterday Pebble-wearing Android users gained the ability to control Pandora from their wrists. This was cool stuff for Pandora listeners, but now the brainy watch is getting an update that will affect all owners, regardless of their listening preferences. A 2.1 firmware upgrade is rolling out to devices via the Android companion app.
On the user-facing side, there's one standout new feature - the watch now has a menu entry for clearing your notification history. In addition, the new firmware should improve Bluetooth reliability when reconnecting a Pebble to a device. For the most part, though, the changelog consists primarily of bugfixes.
Listening to the radio has been a social experience since families first gathered around them in their living rooms, and now TuneIn Radio is ready to fully embrace this aspect. The Android app has received an update that injects a fresh dose of social features. Some of these build upon the way the software previously functioned, while other aspects are entirely new.
Today Todoist has rolled out an update for its Android app that introduces the ability to attach files to notes natively. This includes data stored locally, along with audio recordings created on the fly. More appropriately for a cloud-based to-do list service, the app can also pull files directly from Dropbox or Google Drive. To give it a go, just hit the paper clip icon when creating a new note.
The last update to NVIDIA's Android-powered SHIELD game machine was only a month ago, but there's another one waiting in the wings. Since SHIELD is already running the latest version of Android, this is a maintenance update, but NVIDIA seems to be sending the full software image (460 megabytes) anyway. SHIELD users should see it pop up on their screens sometime today - make sure you're near a speedy WiFi access point before you begin.
So what's in there? According to the changelog, just three things: an Apps2SD bug fix, a bug fix for the bumper button volume function (much easier than using the on-screen virtual volume keys), and better security and speed for the GameStream service.
The developer and unlocked versions of the HTC One M8 are now receiving an update that enables the device's Extreme Power Saving Mode. This feature extends the phone's battery life by disabling all but the essential services, shooting users out of the standard interface into one that provides access to phone calls, text messages, email, calendar events, a calculator, and nothing else. This feature did not ship on the HTC One M8 out of the box here in the US, but updates are turning that situation around. The Extreme Power Saving Mode is joined by a few enhancements to the camera and gallery apps.
HD Widgets is already one of the more pragmatic and attractive sources for Android widgets out there, but now it's about to get even prettier. For the big 4.0 release, the developers are prepared to introduce a new theme that's been designed for Android 4.4. And since you don't need KitKat to run it, that makes this update a nice breath of fresh air for anyone looking for a modern set of widgets displaying everything from the weather and time to battery life and toggles.
The core experience remains the same, but the team has added a side navigation menu to the app, which displays active widgets, theme packs, tools, settings, weather locations, and the like.
Get this. Before now, Snapchat wasn't good for actually chatting. I know, for an app with chat in the name, you would understandably expect it to foster some form of conversations (the snappy kind, at least). But until now, users have only been able to take photos or short video clips, doodle on them, add captions, set how long the recipient could view them, and share. The app was less about communicating and more about, well, other stuff. But now the company has added instant messaging to the app, along with live video chatting.
Snapchat's video chats feel more spontaneous than traditional calls.
The big XE16 Google Glass update hit two weeks ago, but as we saw in our teardown, some of the included features were not turned on yet. That is set to change sometime this week. The Glass team has shared a number of features to be on the lookout for, with the first of which being a change to how the glasses handle automatically backing up photos and videos to the web. Rather than only working on Wi-Fi, wearers will now have the choice to backup on any connection. They can access this by swiping to the Auto Backup card in Settings.