It's not update Wednesday anymore, but Google can do whatever it wants with its apps. That's how things work. Today Mountain View has started rolling out an update to Google Maps with some stuff to make cyclists very happy. Not to leave everyone else out, there's now conversational voice actions while in navigation.
We've recently seen plenty of rumors related to Google's future plans for its Search app, from automatically remembering where you parked to reminding you of things when you're with another person, to reminding you to pay bills, down to something as simple as setting a proper timer. Clearly, Google's got plenty of plans for what will happen inside Search. But today, we've got something a little different - this time, it relates to how Google's voice assistant will break out of Search, entering other Google apps to help you do more with your voice and perform more actions with Search in general.
Today's Hangouts update was a bit of a surprise. Besides landing on Monday, the update was a fairly large one. Users of the latest version of Hangouts are already enjoying merged SMS/Hangouts threads, improved status markers, a new home screen widget, new sound effects, the ability to share contact cards, and other touches. But - as with any Google update - it's worth looking a little deeper in the app to see what may be hiding in the code.
For over a few hours on Monday, several Google services came crashing to a halt. Users all over the world were unable to send messages via Hangouts, engage in video chats, or check Google Voice. Some people trying to create spreadsheets with Sheets were met with 502 errors, and people taking advantage of the multi-player aspect of Google Play Games were also affected. All of this apparently resulted from an oops during a routine hardware maintenance event where the company miscalculated available capacity.
I love Update Wednesdays, and today we've already seen pretty decent updates to several Google apps. As you've already seen, Google Play Games was updated to v1.5, but the one I'm excited about the most is, without a doubt, Google TTS v3.0, which made a jump today from v2.4.
So, what's so cool about TTS 3.0?
First and foremost, Text-to-Speech 3.0 adds support for high quality voices.
Samsung may be preparing to announce the Galaxy S5 at Mobile World Congress later this month, and one of the features it's sure to detail is an updated version of its S Voice assistant. We saw a few screens of this app leak recently, but now SamMobile has gotten some hands-on time with the app and has the screens to prove it.
Today, Google finally opened the Chromecast up to developers in a meaningful way, releasing the Google Cast SDK and integrating the relevant Android API into Google Play Services, the ever-growing backbone of Google's Android-based offerings. The update has already begun its rollout. Of course, that means we're going to look inside and see what's new, and we've also got a download for those who just can't wait for Play Services 4.2 to hit their device.
Motorola Assist has just made the jump to version 1.3, and with the update comes the expected helping of new features. Today's serving includes the ability to respond to text messages with just your voice and the option to select which music app to launch automatically when entering the car. Just be sure to select the best music app when prompted, as Assist won't necessarily dish out the most practical set of options.
Earlier today, we published a first look at what we believed to be a Yahoo!-made competitor to voice assistants like Google Now and Siri. The video, sent to us by an anonymous tipster along with screenshots showed what looked to be a very impressive app with an implementation similar to Facebook's Chat Heads, whereby a Y! icon would constantly float on the home screen waiting to be activated.
This evening, TechCrunch learned through a source "familiar with Yahoo's internal projects" that the app wasn't real, implying the video was nothing more than a really nice concept demo.