When Android runs on a TV, it's still Android, there are just a few checks in place to make sure users aren't installing unprepared phone apps to their big screens all willy-nilly, creating the kind of awful UI experience that could make a techie cry and any one else scrunch their face in confusion. In a way, Google's only trying to protect us from ourselves. Most TV viewers will want nothing to do with such shenanigans, so only apps that have been updated and declared compatible with Android TV work with the platform out of the box.
No Lollipop? No problem. You can get some slick new Material Design themes for your keyboard in the SwiftKey store to make your phone feel a little more modern. Okay, I guess it is still a bummer that you don't have Lollipop yet, but that's not SwiftKey's fault. How about you just enjoy the themes?
Update: As commenters have pointed out, the undo close tab option has been available before now - it's just the look that has changed. I've updated the screenshots to reflect this.
The beta edition of Chrome for Android is getting a small update before the changes go into the primary release. The biggest new addition in version 39.0.2171.37 is an "undo closed tab" option. When you swipe away a tab on the "all tabs" page, a contextual menu will appear at the bottom allowing you to instantly bring it back.
Android includes tools to follow the state of your battery, but not Android Wear. Seems like an oversight on Google's part, but developers are trying to fill in the gaps. The first such app showed up just recently, but now there's a new Wear battery tracker from the developer of the fantastic Wear Mini Launcher. Wear Battery Stats can be used on the phone or watch to see how the battery has been doing and identify potential issues.
It has been a little quiet on the app front today, but it is in fact Update Wednesday. There's a new version of Hangouts available for download right now, and it has at least one useful tweak. Presumably there are also some bug fixes and other under-the-hood changes.
Today, Google officially announced Gmail Blue Inbox, a service we posted about just last night. Previously codenamed Bigtop, Inbox by Gmail is a full reimagining of how an email product should work, and how users should interact with their email.
It is really rare for a product to come out that actually reimagines something rather than just claiming it does, but Inbox is really a fresh take on... the inbox.
Now that you can put widgets on your lockscreen, there's a whole host of things you can do even before unlocking your phone. and if that's not enough, there are afewalternativelockscreens that will let you do even more. Today we're getting another one from a slightly surprising source: Microsoft. Say hello to the Next Lock Screen, an app from the company's Microsoft Garage internal team.
Google is rolling out a big update to the Google Earth app, and as usual it's a staged deployment. Never fear, we are here with an APK download. In this new version (8.0) you'll find better 3D images, cleaner maps, KML import, and more.
Google hasn't updated the changelog on the Play Store yet, but there's a whole blog post about Google Earth v8.0. The gist of it is that 3D images will look much better now with the new rendering engine.
Google has just launched a new email system, but you can only get on in by requesting an invitation or being sent one from a friend. No, it's not 2004, it's Google's new Inbox system, an alternative to Gmail and a new way to look at electronic messaging in general. We've highlighted the new system before its official release, but now you can get it for yourself... if you're lucky enough to get through the invitation system.
Microsoft released a remote desktop app for Android just over a year ago, but now there's a new separate beta version of the app listed in the Play Store, and it makes some big changes. Of course, this still uses the RDP protocol, so you'll need a Pre version of Windows to use it. It's pretty robust if you've got the support built-in.