We've been eagerly awaiting the new version of Google Hangouts since it was announced at the Google+ event in October, and while a version pulled from the Nexus 5 is mostly working on most devices, its had its fair share of issues with crashing and video chat.
Now the update has finally landed on the Play Store, and with a slightly newer version number. Hangouts v2.0.122 (as opposed to 2.0.012 on the N5) is presumably beginning its slow and steady staged rollout, but you can get it right now. The problems with video chat and some crashing should be resolved in this new version, as the libvideochat_jni.so library is now included with the Hangouts APK.
There are many thousands of worthy apps in Google Play, but not all of them are on sale. If you're going to spend money, you might as well do it when there's a sale on, right? Better jump on these before they're gone.
Remember the kinder, gentler YouTube comments powered by Google+? Well, they're finally rolling out across the internet, and the Android app is no exception. Like it or not, Google+ is all up in your YouTube.
Text-to-speech engines read text aloud, saving users from having to read it themselves. Google's TTS offering comes pre-installed on numerous Android devices, and like much of the software previously shipped as part of Android, it's now ready to spread its wings in the Play Store. Here it's available to far more users, as it can now be installed on devices that don't come with the software pre-installed (pictured below -left). In contrast, on the Nexus 5, Google TTS is apparently already installed and unremovable (pictured below - right).
Some devices benefit from this more than others. Galaxy Note 3 users can install Google TTS as a replacement for the less than stellar option Samsung provides.
Don't let anyone ever tell you that your opinion isn't worth anything. In fact, your thoughts are so valuable that Google is willing to pay you for them. Well, there are two caveats - you must live in the US, and you have to be fine with being paid in Google Play credit. But hey, when it comes to Android, that stuff is as good as cash.
Users can spend Google Play credit on digital content in the Play Store, including apps, games, music, books, magazines, and videos. The app comes from Google Consumer Surveys, so expect questions to center around product usage and shopping habits.
The Chameleon Launcher turned some heads when it more than doubled its goal on Kickstarter last year. The final product wasn't quite as amazing as we hoped it would be, but Teknision did at least deliver the app to Google Play. It appears that Teknision is moving on now – it has been acquired by a company called Synacor. Never heard of it? Don't feel bad – you are not alone.
Synacor builds cloud-based technologies that are licensed to various businesses to deliver streaming content and other services. As near as I can tell, the company also manufactures tech industry buzzwords.
Swype may have just gained new split and mini keyboard options, but the SwiftKey folks have been sitting on something even more visionary for quite a while now. Their "Layouts for Living" program adds many layout options - split keyboards, movable pop-up keyboards, etc. - to what is already one of the most popular Android keyboards out there.
The video above highlights thumb, compact, and full layout options. Since all three options are movable, they each make it easier to type one-handed, with two thumbs, or with the device resting in your lap. The idea is that the keyboard not only molds to your device, it molds to your position.
It's often the case that one piece of software will introduce a groundbreaking feature, but others will expand on it, eventually replacing the original. When it comes to Android, Swype and SwiftKey come to mind. But the latter has yet to vanquish the former, nor has the addition of gesture-based typing to the stock keyboard, and Swype has now been updated with a host of new features that show just how much of a heavyweight this contender remains.
For starters, there are new keyboard options for people with large phones. Split and mini keyboards aren't unheard of, but they're nice to see here.
The Android lockscreen has been slowly evolving over the years, and it's got a respectable feature set these days. But sometimes rethinking a feature can provide a better overall experience. Cover is a new beta lockscreen alternative that tries to learn where you are and what you're most likely to need access to, then put it right there on the lockscreen. It's a compelling approach, but how is it?
It's a simple fix: just check the version number of your Google Play Services app (it seems to be affecting both 4.0.30 and the slightly newer 4.0.31), then check the Device Administrators section of your Security settings page.