To the excitement of many, Google has finally made the Google Now Launcher available for all Android devices running Android 4.1 or later.
The GNL is what Google thinks your Android device should look like, in a basic sense. A dedicated Google Now homescreen pane, a permanent Google Search shortcut at the top of every screen, and a very bare-bones app drawer. It's simple, fast, and Google-y. What's interesting is that, despite some degree of love for the GNL in the wider Android community, it's really not an enthusiast's launcher at all.
You would think the pace of Wear apps would slow down after the initial rush to be the first to do one thing or another, but no. Bigno. The flow of new Wear-enabled apps has yet to abate, so the roundup is back a little early to show you what's cool and new in the Android Wear universe.
The Samsung Gear Live got an extra OTA update a few weeks ago, and now it looks like it's the G Watch's turn. There are scattered reports today of an OTA update rolling out with build number KMV78Y. The current build is KMV78V.
I really like my LG G Pad 8.3 Google Play Edition (or as we call it 'round the office, the LGGP83GPE), and it's a bit disheartening that the standard version isn't getting more traction. But at least Verizon's LTE model is now on Android 4.4, as confirmed by Google+ users. Verizon's standard upgrade page says that the KitKat 4.4.2 OTA update adds a few changes to LG's software skin as well.
Google I/O 2014 has come and gone, but that doesn't mean great stuff from the conference isn't still coming out. The companion app used by thousands of attendees -and hundreds of thousands of fans and followers- has been open sourced! Code for the I/O app is meant to serve as an example of best practices for Android developers, providing fully functioning implementations of the latest design principles, UI controls, networking code, and more.
Enough of these watch faces that are all about delivering important information and attractive "design." How about some animated GIFs? This app downloads trending animations from Giphy and syncs them to the watch to be displayed each time you wake it up. Want to see it in action? We've got a video.
As far as we can tell, today's over-the-air update for Fuhu's top-of-the-line DreamTab HD8 is the first time the company has published an Android 4.4 device build. Not that the kid-friendly target demographic is likely to care that their tablets are running the latest and greatest KitKat build, but heck, newer is better, right? According to Nabi's support website, the update is going out to tablets today, and can be initiated with the usual manual check in "Mommy or Daddy mode."
In addition to the extras in Android 4.4., the update adds a basic calendar app designed to let children start learning their Gregorian.
The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live both lack a light sensor to adjust screen brightness, which is kind of a pain. The Moto 360 is supposed to have have an ambient light sensor, but Display Brightness for Wear lets you fake the same functionality on the G Watch and Gear Live. It uses the time and your phone's location to determine how bright the watch should be, which is pretty clever.
App installation on Android Wear is completely transparent when it works correctly, but that can be an issue when things aren't going smoothly. Wear Apps Tracker makes the watch act a bit more like your phone with regard to app changes. Basically, it adds notifications.
Good grief, the developer behind the Wear Mini Launcher is certainly setting a rapid pace. The app has only been available for a couple of weeks and already it's seen a major update. Today you can download the Play Store beta version (after you've joined the Google+ community, bah) to try out the 2.0 release. The 2.0 update includes options for moving the swipe-in activation gesture to other screen positions.