Google is on a crusade against search bars. Or so it seems to us at least. Late last year, the Play Store received an interface revamp that dumped the green search bar in favor of an overlaid grey bar with a hamburger menu, a voice search icon, and the words Google Play in grey that disappeared as soon as you started typing. Then a few days ago, it changed Play Books' search bar to a look that sits somewhere in the middle, with the blue bar switching into the grey one when you tapped to search.
Samsung and The Weather Channel aren't two companies you would naturally pair together, but they've done just that: the two have partnered up to produce a specialized version of the weather app, exclusive to Samsung's S6 edge, S7 edge, and Note 5.
As it's produced by The Weather Channel, the main function is to tell the user the weather conditions. This works well enough: currently, conditions are 49°F outside, according to the app, although it feels like 44°F apparently. I also know sunrise is due at 5:52 this morning. Scrolling down, there is more detailed weather information, such as wind speed and direction, humidity, dew point, pressure, and UV index.
Hype Machine isn't your typical music discovery service. It relies on music blogs to aggregate the most recent and talked about music tracks across the internet and from various genres. You can only listen to songs when the original blog has posted a link to SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or Official.fm for example, but the track itself isn't hosted on Hype Machine.
The service is more geared toward the music blogging scene, providing links to the articles where each song was shared and letting you favorite blogs and users to follow what they've been posting. Essentially, it's a heavily curated music social network and it works very well for those who like that approach.
One of the biggest problems with TV news is that if you're not interested in a particular story – say, sports or celebrities – you have no option but to sit through it. Haystack TV aims to solve that by turning the news into personalized streams which are curated through artificial intelligence, big data, and editorial decision-making. The idea being that if you're especially interested in finance or international affairs, you can create a TV channel just about that.
In addition to being available through the browser and as a downloadable application for most major smartphone and Internet TV platforms, it is also available for Google's nascent Android TV platform, which can be found running on the latest-and-greatest Sony Smart TVs.
Google's in-house Project Fi has a great app compared to what you get from other carriers. Not that it would be hard to make that happen, but it is pretty good. It's getting even better today with an update (version I.2.1) that adds a new widget and better control over call forwarding.
So you need to access your PC, but you aren't nearby? TeamViewer might be helpful, assuming you had the foresight to install it on your computer. If not, sucks for you because TeamViewer just got an update with several handy new features.
Google is apparently reaching out to Maps explorers with word of a new app heading down the pipeline.
The email invite calls on recipients to be the first to try a new app for travelers. There isn't much in the way of details, other than the availability for both Android and iOS. But given the recent launch of Google Destinations, travel is clearly an area of interest for the company.
When it first launched last summer, Microsoft Translator had some potential but a lot of catch-up to do with Google's own Translate. No offline mode, no natural conversation mode, no Android Wear app, and many other missing features made me refrain from recommending it when I compared it against Translate. But Microsoft has been updating its app, bridging the gap with each new version, adding all of these features and more like Klingon support and a kickass Android Wear integration. The only major capability that was still missing from Translator's arsenal was image translation and that's finally here.
Version 2.16.82, which is already live in the Play Store (and on APK Mirror) can load images, automatically detect languages, and overlay the translation into the language of your choice on top of each element.
Facebook's been making some big improvements to Messenger recently, and the latest is no different: group calling is coming, with the global rollout having started yesterday on both iOS and Android. As is now usual with Messenger, the web app (on both facebook.com and messenger.com) will probably get the update at some point in the future.
Group calling works as you'd expect: tap on a group chat and, if the feature has rolled out to you yet, there will be a phone icon in the app bar. Tap this and it will bring up a dialogue asking who you'd like to include in the group call.
Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages is a neat idea system that automatically reformats an HTML web page into a light and speedy version ripe for consumption on mobile phones and potentially strained connections. It's a sort of mix between the old dedicated mobile sites (which are often broken and lacking in features) and the newer dynamic formatting (which can be too heavy for a phone browser even when written correctly). The AMP system has been going for a few months now, and Google claims that it has "thousands" of publishers on board.