Google is continuing to shine a brighter light on Hangouts users who are currently online. A few months ago the company brought back the green dot that used to mark online contacts in the days of Google Talk (which was replaced with a subtle green line in Hangouts). Going forward, the messenger in the web version of Gmail will contain a new tab that puts online contacts at the top. It's still possible to message friends who are offline, they're just tucked at the bottom where they're out of the way.
It takes a lot for an Android web browser to get our attention. We've got Chrome in all its Googleyness, and we've got Dolphin if you need something more extensible. But the new Atlas browser beta, from NextApp (developers of SystemPanel App), may just warrant your attention. In addition to speedy rendering and surprising responsiveness, Atlas has some advanced features hidden behind a solid user interface. Oh, and did we mention it uses some Material Design cues in its visuals?
If Chrome isn't cutting it for you, or if you're a die-hard Mozilla fan, or if you'd just like the ability to watch Flash videos every once in a while, the Android version of Firefox is your best bet. Mozilla keeps coming with steady updates, and the latest fixes an especially vexing problem: Flash support is back in KitKat. (It's still marked as unresolved in the release notes for Firefox 27, but I've tested it on my own KitKat tablet.) You'll still need an archived version of Flash to make the plugin work.
Google has rebuilt Sheets, the spreadsheet-related portion of its online office suite, and is making the new version available immediately. None of these changes directly affect the Android version of the app, but given that this is the desktop browser-based companion to what Google would consider the platform's best spreadsheet editor, it may be time to give the service another go if you aren't already a committed user. The new version of Sheets comes with a range of new features, including offline support.
A new update to the Opera mobile beta web browser is out, and this one is somewhat of a doozy. The new goodies are coming to the beta version, so make sure your kittens are some place safe before you fire it up.
The update brings in a new full screen mode, the ability to put the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, fraud protection, and battery life improvements.
Opera has been talking up its new browser entry into the Android world for a few months now, with a beta version hitting the scene back in March. That beta has now graduated into a final release, which just landed in the Play Store this morning. The overall appearance and functionality seems to be largely unchanged from the beta, so users who have been testing out the browser should feel right at home with the first stable offering (which is a completely new listing in the Play Store, not an update to the beta).
Opera and Skyfire have a lot in common: specialized use cases, small, dedicated populations of users. That appears to be enough for the desktop browser to swallow the mobile one. Opera Software ASA announced via a press release this morning that it is acquiring Skyfire and its assets, in a deal worth $155 million USD. The sale price includes a mix of cash and stock, $50 million of which will be delivered up front.
Do you use AirDroid? You should. It's a fantastic piece of software. While Google tends to prefer using cloud services to manage your data, there is no central app that can access and change anything on your device. This app fills that need and does so amazingly. It's so great that we gave away 20 invites to the v2 beta recently. Now, the invite-only requirement is gone and it's available to anyone who can download it.