When Microsoft Translator was released a few months ago, I went through an extensive comparison between it and Google Translate and came out impressed by Microsoft's efforts, but not completely swayed. At the time, Translator had a major advantage in its Android Wear support (a gap that Google has since closed) but lacked many other features like offline functionality, camera view, and most importantly the live conversation mode. Well, Translator has now jumped that last hurdle and added natural conversation support in its app.
The mode works for a few select languages already: Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, with more promised to be added in the future.
Telecom operators in Brazil have been working for months to undermine the legality of WhatsApp, and now a judge in Sao Paulo has apparently agreed with the arguments. Starting at 9PM ET this evening, WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil, and will continue to be blocked for 48 hours. Mobile operators have said they will enforce the block (probably while high fiving each other). What will happen in 48 hours is unclear, but you can bet Facebook has multiple planeloads of lawyers on their way to Brazil. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum is certainly not amused.
The ugly Christmas sweater phenomenon seems to be yet another case of public trends where the fundamentally undesirable is somehow turned into a nouveau fashion statement, like Uggs or Hummers. While an intense examination of the psychology behind their resurgence would be an interesting application of our time, I'm not paid to write about wooly jumpers. If all you want for Christmas is an Android avatar with a tasteless sweater, then check your Androidify app for the latest update.
Out with the old and in with the new. That's just about the best way to describe the latest update to the Google app for Android TV. Version 2.0 doesn't seem to bring much in the way of features, but what it lacks in functional changes is more than made up for with visuals. Basically everything having to do with a search interface looks at least a little different, if not completely. If you're eager to try it out for yourself, there's an APK Mirror link at the bottom. Otherwise, take a gander at a few screenshots below.
New microphone – Left: old version, Right: new version.
The issues with Hangouts on Android are becoming legendary at this point. It's an app that has suffered from a multitude of bugs, sluggishness issues, and incomplete features over the years. Now, a rumor posted by Phandroid says that Google is going to pull one of the more problematic (and important) features from Hangouts in a future update—SMS and MMS.
Google runs the Play Store as it sees fit, and sometimes that means it removes apps that we as users might prefer were there. However, a recent decision to pull an app called VTS from the Play Store is particularly baffling. VTS from NowSecure scanned Android devices for known vulnerabilities, but now you can only get it from GitHub and APK Mirror.
In an APK Teardown many moons ago, Cody noticed a few common strings in the mobile apps of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, that hinted at the release of templates. It took a few months, but the feature has finally gone live on all three Drive apps.
Now when you tap the floating + action button to create a new file in any of the three applications, you'll see an option to choose a template. Tap that and you'll be able to pick any of the readily available preformatted styles that you've had access to on the web version of Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
Google Play Books has a new feature called "night light" that should make tearing through text in the app in the evenings a bit less stressful on your ocular organs. The toggle, found in the same part of the UI as all the other in-text visual adjustments, works by slowly removing the amount of blue light on the screen the later in the day it is. The visual effect is to give the background an amber color which is supposedly less likely to cause visual strain in low ambient light.
Google says the feature is rolling out now, but if you don't have the latest Play Books update available to you, you're in luck: we do!