Android's lock screen hasn't really changed since 4.2, but app developers keep coming up with new ways to wow us. Case in point: Cover. This alternative lockscreen replaces the default screen with a selection of quick-launch app icons, not unlike some of the manufacturer skins out there. But unlike TouchWiz or Sense, Cover automatically learns which apps you use at what times, and it comes with a ton of impressive UI features.
Say what you will about Microsoft, but they've never let a little thing like a platform war get in the way of profits. The Bing search app for Android has been around for years, long enough for it to accrue more than a million downloads, and today it gets an update to bring it in line with the fancy pants brand re-launch - note the swanky logo.
On Android Bing isn't really a search app, it's more like a beachhead for a handful of Microsoft web properties.
The free DuoLingo service already has an army of aspirational bilingual supporters, but that's no reason to rest on your laurels. Today the developers have updated the Android app with a few changes to the user interface. The basics of the app have only been tweaked slightly - a digital spit and polish, if you will - but extra screens added to the end of lessons and progression screens should help users get a feel for where they are in the program.
For a long time now, Southwest Airlines' Android app has been awful. I mean just lamentably bad. No, seriously, here are some screenshots of the app before today's update... and oddly, Southwest hasn't even updated the screenshots in the Play Store.
See? It's like someone got the only app developer from TWA to work on it. The app has been given a complete overhaul with today's update, bringing both the interface and the capability up to snuff.
You might just be seeing a new version of Google Maps in your Play Store downloads today - Google has updated the app from version 7.3 to 7.4. There's not a whole lot of new stuff going on inside, certainly not compared to the cavalcade of UI changes that happened earlier this year. A few tuned gestures, a few refreshed UI elements, and that's about it. APK downloads below.
If you're a regular Maps user, you'll notice that the one-finger zoom gestures have been reversed.
The next version of Android is bringing a lot of visual options to the table, and they're not just for Google to play with. Buried deep within the KitKat 4.4 API (level 19) is the ability for apps to request translucent system UI overlays, specifically on the top notification bar and the bottom navigation bar (if your device has one). You can see this feature in action in all the promotional photos of the Nexus 5's homescreen, where the wallpaper is visible form the top of the screen to the bottom.
It's about damn time. While Pandora has been slowly and steadily updating its Android app for years (the latest big update was a sleep timer), the tablet experience has been sorely lacking ever since Honeycomb. The music streaming service has redeemed itself with version 5.0 of the Android app, which now shifts the interface significantly on Android tablets.
The main play interface occupies the center of the screen, going back through your play history with album art and displaying contextual track information below it.
Google is a strange master when it comes to user interface design. Though their apps can generally be relied upon to use Holo standards at the very least, some development teams seem to let the latest trends pass them by for months or years (I'm looking at you, Voice). In any case, the official Google Fiber app has a much-needed update waiting for those lucky few who will get to use it.
Twitter has been steadily tweaking their beta release channel for the Android app, and the latest update removes one of the most poorly-received features from the last beta version. The translucent tri-button array at the bottom of the screen (post a photo from storage, take a photo, or a simple textual tweet) has been removed, and is now replaced with a single, consolidated button.
New on the left, old on the right.