Not all of the changes to Android 5.0 Lollipop are meant to be seen by regular users, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the core components of the operating system is about to break free from the shackles of firmware updates and join the Play Store and Google Play services in receiving automatic updates directly from Google. As of Android 5.0, the WebView component will be a distinct apk, allowing it to be upgraded separately from the OS.
Quick, if you're on a desktop browser, open a new tab and head for Google Drive. You might just see a new interface for Google's document and storage service, first announced back at Google I/O. Drive is getting a makeover to make it more like navigating files in a desktop file manager, complete with thumbnail views for all items and keyboard modifiers that let you manage multiple files at once.
Google Drive/Google Docs isn't the best online office suite in the world, at least in my experience, but it is a pretty great way to get a competent and instant editor for quick tasks. The only problem is that this tends to leave you with dozens of semi-finished items in your Drive, a bunch of quick paragraphs and hastily-formatted emails that need to be deleted one-by-one in the list view. Today Google Drive has solved this minor annoyance, if only on the web.
Google has provided the tools for developers to create desktop Chrome apps for a while now, but it's looking like Chrome apps are going to be hitting mobile devices too. A GitHub repository managed by a Googler contains tools and documentation for the project. Google isn't really keeping it a secret, but neither is it discussing any official details.
Earlier today, a post on the Chrome Releases blog announced Chrome 31 is moving from beta to the stable. The update is coming in with a number of exciting features, including: printing from Chrome on devices with KitKat, support for requestAutocomplete to auto-fill payment details with online stores, 'Add to home screen' for web apps, and more.
If you've been following along with the beta channel, you're probably already familiar with a few of these changes.
Starting with the upcoming version 31, Chrome for Android Beta will support adding web apps to the home screen via an option in the overflow menu. These apps will still run in a sandboxed Chrome environment, but they will also be integrated with the operating system in a few interesting ways.
Adding a supported web app to the homescreen will place a custom icon on the device, but this is more than a bookmark shortcut.
Foursquare is a neat way to keep your friends appraised of your location and activities, as is the custom in this day and age. With the help of Samsung, you can now see all your Foursquare check-ins through a living timeline called Time Machine. Even if you don't have a Foursquare account, check out the demo. It's really cool.
Time Machine is an aerial view of your check-ins laid out chronologically.
Earlier today, Google officially debuted Dart, their new programming language intended to make web development easy by offering a somewhat familiar structure with enough flexibility to open up new possibilities, including the ability to run on "all modern web browsers and environments."
Google's dedicated Dart website features the language spec and preliminary development tools as open source, giving developers a chance to get acquainted with the language during its early development.
Opera Software, makers of the popular browsers for desktops and mobile devices, today unveiled a mobile storefront for web apps called the Opera Mobile Store. The store, which racked up 15 million users during its February beta release, is available now on Android (as well as several other mobile operating systems).
Applications will be purchased, installed, and run via Opera's mobile browsers (Opera Mini or Opera Mobile). Opera's store is powered by web app company Appia, whose storefront commerce system will be used for payments.