Android 5.1 is finally here, at least according to Google (they'd know, right?). The company just posted on the official Android blog that the 5.1 Lollipop update begins rolling out today, though they didn't quite specify which devices will be getting it. Granted, if it's a Nexus or GPE phone and it already has Android 5.0, you can probably count yourself in for the 5.1 party - this release is mostly bug fixes with a few features rolled in (see our feature spotlights for 5.1 here for some of them).
It's been about a year since Android Wear was announced, and here we are with a few watches and a ton of apps and faces. I hear there's some other company that announced a smartwatch recently. I think they usually sell fruit or something. Whatever, we're here to talk about all the cool new stuff you can do with your Android Wear watch. So here are the best new apps and watch faces that have come to Wear in the last few weeks.
Nexus update documents on T-Mobile's website have just been updated to reflect the newest release of Android is coming: 5.1. Build LMY47D has been spotted in the wild in the past week or so numerous times, but T-Mobile's document is saying that rollout should be happening today for the Nexus 4, 5, and 7 (2013). Whether or not it's right is another question entirely.
Android 5.1 brings tons of stability and bug fixes, as well as new features (check some of them out - here).
Today we've got a quick tip for Chrome - a new method of switching between what we'll call "sibling tabs" in Chrome for Android when you've got apps and tabs merged.
First, what are sibling tabs? In Chrome on Android Lollipop, when users have tabs and apps merged (so Chrome tabs show up in the overview space), tabs opened using the "open in new tab" action will group together with the parent tab, making a nice little group that will stick together as you scroll vertically.
Hey, HTC One M7 (2013) owners on T-Mobile, are you jealous of your counterparts in Europe, or on Sprint, or those who use the Developer Edition? You know, because they all have the Lollipop update (or at least access to a ROM file) before you do?
Cerberus is a solid little app that makes it easy (or at least easier) to find/lock your phone or tablet if it's lost or stolen. The app has accumulated over a million downloads on the Play Store, so clearly it has earned some loyal users. The update to version 3.1 adds a couple of crucial features: full support for both Android Wear and Android 5.0. If you have either one, you'll appreciate the added functionality.
Google's material design, which I've written about a number of times, has generally been received well by designers, developers, and press alike. We've seen numerous apps adopt it, developers explain and evangelize it, and users react positively to it.
Still, there have been nagging questions about the new design philosophy. A big one, and one that could potentially be a stumbling block for adoption, is the question of branding. Some voice concerns that material design may overshadow existing brands if implemented to Google's spec, or that it's too difficult to brand a "material design app."
Someone recently asked me what I thought about the relationship between branding opportunities and material design, and while I was able to come up with a short version of the answer, there are a few different things packed into this issue that are worth exploring.
There isn't a shortage of Tron-inspired watch faces for Android Wear with bright neon blue colors, but finding one that is customizable to different styles and watch shapes can be a bit difficult. Enter NAVI, from Tha PHLASH (lots of capslocking there), a cool watch design that hits all the right notes.
Available for both round and square watches, with a setting that lets you remove the redundant digits on the G Watch R (finally someone thought of that!), NAVI comes in both a day and a night mode. It has several colors and settings for the clock hands, with weather, date, and battery placeholders, and a very battery-friendly ambient mode.
A fresh update to the Play Store just started rolling out to devices and it has a few pleasant improvements. The most notable of the changes land squarely in the realm of visual refinements, but there are a couple of functional tweaks, as well. If you can't wait to get your hands on the new version, the download link is at the bottom.
Let's start with some visual changes.
Landscape Layout For Content
Left: old version, Right: new version
Googler Kirill Grouchnikov called out one of the top changes earlier this morning. Now, when holding a phone in landscape orientation, the content for Play Store entries no longer reaches edge-to-edge and allows a bit of the featured background image to show through on the sides.