Microsoft has a music app. No, really, they do! It may have escaped your notice with the launch of a new service from a certain other company and the continuing dominance of Spotify, but the Xbox Music service is still going strong. Sort of - apparently Microsoft didn't think that brand name was strong enough, so they changed it to Groove. That name hasn't made it to the official Android app, for some reason.
WhatsApp Web has been available for about half a year, and in the time since its announcement, it only got some minor changes like skin tone emojis. However, the service has received a backend update that adds a lot of the mobile app's features, making it easy for you to manage your conversations from the web interface without having to grab your phone. We don't know when exactly these changes were implemented, but they seem quite new to us.
We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs.
Pop over to the Play Store website on your computer real quick. I'll wait. Notice anything different? It's very likely that you're seeing the new app pages that started showing up months ago for users who weren't logged in. Now it sounds like almost everyone has the new look (everyone at APHQ is seeing it as well).
Do you like Halo? I mean really like Halo, like you've got a little light-up Cortana on your desk and you actually know the names of the various rainbow color versions of the Master Chief? Can you write me a 20-page essay on the leadup to and fallout from the battle of Reach? Then today is your lucky day, because Halo has come to Android... in the form of a video app with clips and guides and stuff.
The Messenger app published by Google received a significant #updatewednesday release this morning, adding support for location sharing, stickers, and quick scrolling. All things, I think we can agree, which are good.
The new location sharing and sticker features, found under the "attach" dialogue, look like this.
Google's default keyboard has gotten really good, to the point that it's hard to actually charge for a keyboard app even if it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Just like SwiftKey last year, Fleksy has now gone free in the Play Store (and Amazon Appstore). Instead of paying an upfront price, there are themes and extensions that you can purchase if you so choose.
Disney has an unstoppable marketing machine at its disposal, and there's a new Star Wars movie coming out later this year. You can probably see where this is going. Yes, there's a new Star Wars app from Disney that aims to get you all hot and bothered for the new film. It's actually kind of neat, though.
The interface can be themed as light side, dark side, or a neutral droid scheme.
Googler Kirill Grouchnikov likes to show off the little UI flourishes in the Play Store, sometimes even before they are live for users. We like the small stuff, and you probably do too. So you'll be happy to know there are two subtle UI tweaks incoming with the next Play Store update. One is in the kids "character" section and the other is in the What's New box we all know and love.