You've got to give it to Google: the company has its finger on the pulse of the world's search habits. Take the upcoming Sochi Olympics - while Russia itself seems poised for an international embarrassment of epic proportions, Google has already tuned up its search engine with Sochi information for desktop and mobile searches. Most searches with "olympics" and an event will return a quick schedule and/or results card in the Knowledge Graph area.
An update to Chrome beta a few weeks ago came with the bizarre side effect that hotword detection no longer worked in the Google search app or in the Google Now Launcher (GNL). The next version of Chrome beta didn't do anything to fix it, either. Well, Google Search to the rescue – yesterday's big search update seems to have fixed hotword detection.
Today Mozilla showed off something that seems like it's an amazing addition to its software portfolio: a Firefox Android homescreen launcher. That would be huge news, if it weren't for the fact that Mozilla invested in the promising launcher Everything.me (later rebranded EverythingMe) in November of 2012, eventually making its search-focused interface a core part of the Firefox mobile OS, which is just now getting off the ground. Now Mozilla and EverythingMe are showing off a tweaked version of that app, rebranded as Firefox Launcher for Android.
January is generally held as a gloomy month, a time when there's nothing but slush on the ground and crap in the movie theaters. But it gave us more than a few fine apps, which you should take the opportunity to peruse. If you don't feel like meticulously combing through our massive bi-weekly app roundups, we've gathered the best of the best right here. Dig in, why don't you?
12Hours is one of those ideas that's so brilliantly simple you wonder why no one has done it already.
Do you use your smartphone while watching TV? Yeah, put your hands down. We're all guilty here. Yahoo hoped to take advantage of this habit of ours with IntoNow, an app that could identify whatever show was on and provide extra information about it (think SoundHound for TV). Yeah, the end result was still distracting, but it could be less disruptive than performing a Google search. Regardless, it doesn't matter anymore.
Newsstand is one of the younger apps in Google's portfolio, but today it's getting a significant update to version 3.1. The biggest change - and a welcome one for at-a-glance newshounds - is a brand-spanking new widget. It's a pretty basic 4X3 affair - the widget will display a single story at a time, complete with headline and embedded image. Tap the arrow button to advance to the next headline, or anywhere else to go directly to the story in Newsstand.
Google has pushed out an update to the Google Search app, which now means there's also an update to the Google Experience Launcher. We've got the APK for you to install below, and this is looking like a substantial update – it looks like the new (and probably official) name for the Google Experience Launcher is Google Now Launcher.
Update: Here's the official changelog.
● More fixes for sending/receiving MMS
● Fixed a bug that prevented some from sending SMS longer than 160 characters
The latest version of Google Hangouts for Android, 2.0.303, has begun rolling out to handsets this morning. This new version doesn't appear to bring much in the way of changes; the only thing we've spotted so far has been a new option to enable or disable sending of usage statistics to Google to improve the app.
Looks like another big "Update Wednesday" for Google, starting with the Drive app. Today's update brings just a couple of small-ish changes... unless, like the rest of the internet, you have an obsession with animated GIFs. Or you scan a lot of documents. Or both.
- New 1x1 widget for faster document scanning
- Support for animated GIFs
- Bug fixes
It's worth noting that the widget doesn't actually show up under the widgets menu on launchers like Nova, but rather under the "shortcuts" option.