In addition to substantial updates to the Android Device Manager and Chrome Beta yesterday, Google Maps is getting an adjustment as well. The new version (8.1) revives the Terrain Mode view, which lets you easily see the various elevation changes in surrounding hills, mountains, and valleys. (Terrain Mode was removed in Maps 7, for some reason.) There are also a few user interface changes to the various navigation screens. It's a small update compared with the the full 8.0 bump from earlier this month, but there are still some useful additions.
At Android Police, we're Android evangelists. It's pretty rare that you'll get us to admit that Apple does something better than Google. But in terms of almost obsessive attention to visual design, Apple has the upper hand. Case in point: the iCal app icon on the iPhone and iPad updates every day, putting the correct day of the month on the icon.
Facebook's entry into the alternative SMS game has quickly reached its fifth release. This update doesn't contain a huge visual overhaul, but it does have some impressive new additions to the main chat window that will make it easier to send all your non-textual communications. The update should be live for everyone now - check the Play Store if you want it immediately, or just wait for the alert or auto-download.
The Paranoid Android family of custom ROMs has a history of adding interesting custom user interface elements, but since re-starting with KitKat, the developers have been trying out some new ideas. One of the first new features for the revamped PA is called Hover, and it's basically a complete rethinking of the Halo idea. Hover is a short-lived visual overlay that temporarily replaces the notification bar with a richer and more useful version, including expandable alerts and floating windows.
For anyone who likes a nice structured itinerary for their weekend Vegas bender, TripIt is a handy app that combines flight, public transit, hotel, and restaurant info in to a tight little scheduling interface. And to make said interface even more tight, TripIt has revised the UI in the latest build. Well, at least some of the UI - from what we can tell, you'll only see the spiffy new blue-tinted screens if you're using a phone.
Everyone who uses Netflix on Android will be getting the latest update to the official app, but only those who use the popular service with Google's Chromecast streaming device are likely to notice what has changed. According to the official change log, the 3.3 update adds an "enhanced second screen experience" and "playback optimizations," and nothing else. That seems to mean a few UI changes to the Netflix Chromecast streaming interface.
There's a new version of Gmail making the rounds at Google, if a couple of leaked screenshots from Geek.com can be believed. Those shots describe a radical user interface change and a handful of new features. Whether they're real and/or final or not is up for debate - even the report notes that the organizational features are mostly experimental at this point.
Aside from the new flat look to the user interface and Google+-style rounded profile pics, the biggest change comes in the form of a new inbox view, with a focus on organizing messages by content.
We're 99% certain that Samsung's Galaxy S5 will be revealed in Barcelona on Monday. And with every new iteration of the company's flagship, Samsung has also either updated or remade their company user interface, shifting elements and aesthetics to match the new hardware. If you're a regular user of the proprietary Samsung Apps (or if you just see it in your app tray and ignore it like everyone else), you might be mildly interested to know that the app portal has been updated.
If you're a big fan of Paranoid Android's Chat Heads-inspired Halo feature, I've got some unfortunate news for you. Yesterday a known member of the Paranoid Android development team, "PirateGhost," posted a reply to an XDA thread waiting on Halo in a new PA beta build.
You are going to be waiting a loooooooooooong time. Halo is dead.
The story was picked up by the folks at the Android subreddit, where reactions ranged from dismissive to inconsolable.