Hey, have you heard? Google Hangouts is now a thing. And by a thing, I mean Google's new universal, cross-platform chat solution. Ron's closer look hands-on should give you an idea of how Hangouts works (and how it doesn't). But the launch of Google's Talk / G+ Messenger replacement hasn't gone entirely smoothly, and there remain a few bumps to be ironed out - bumps Google has promised to fix.
The Nexus Q has had a tough life so far – that goes without saying. Things just got a little worse for the handful of us that use (and enjoy) the Q though – Google has seemingly sliced streaming support from the latest Play Music update, further reducing the impact of the Q's admittedly very limited use case.
Google made a big deal out of its improvements to the Play Store in the massive keynote that kicked off I/O, and at least some of them are live right now. Probably the most important for tablet owners is the ability to highlight apps specifically designed for tablets, or at least, the ones that have given some thought to layout and interface on larger screens. The updated tablet view is being rolled out right now, and on at least some devices (read:mine) it includes the option to filter out the smartphone chaff from the tablet wheat.
Between Hangouts, the gorgeous new Maps, Play Music All Access, and everything else discussed in I/O's opening keynote this morning, several revisions to the Play Store developer's console were announced.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the console will be an organized method for alpha and beta testing, and staged rollouts. Basically, developers can select alpha and beta testers, receiving all feedback directly (instead of through reviews) and, when the time comes, roll out the app to certain percentages of the user base.
Google asserts that over 97% of mobile shoppers abandon their shopping carts because the process simply makes them jump through too many hoops. To free Android users from this heavy burden, Google has launched a new Google Wallet Instant Buy API that will allow mobile shoppers in Android apps to check out in as little as two clicks. No more poking out lengthy street address and re-looking up credit card information.
Google's official Search app (aka Google Now) for Android has been updated with a few new features, though they're pretty awesome ones. First, voice reminders are finally live - you can now say, for example, "remind me to buy milk this evening" or "remind me to take out the trash when I get home." I think we can all agree that's kind of amazing.
The second new feature is suggested content, in the form of upcoming books, music, TV, and video games you might be interested in.
If you're in the market for a new Android virtual keyboard, you could do a lot worse than SwiftKey, especially since it's just been updated to version 4.1. In the company's ceaseless drive to improve every nook and cranny of the app they've added three shiny new themes: Regal (purple), Pitch (black) and Dusk (navy blue). In addition, both the smartphone and tablet version of the swiping, predicting, multi-language keyboard are on sale for half off.
Google Maps has been performing solid, mostly thankless service for more than eight years now, and last week its most significant update yet was leaked. It's that time of year, so we naturally assumed that we'd be hearing more about it at today's Google I/O keynote, but someone in Mountain View must have been a little quick on the trigger. Droid Life spotted a signup page for the revamped web interface and managed to grab a few screenshots before it was hastily shoved back in the digital closet.
Even if you're not physically attending Google I/O, the official convention app might serve you well. It allows attendees to scan badges, view schedules, and just guide themselves around with vector-based maps. If you're not going to be in Moscone Center tomorrow, you can stream sessions with the app. Waiting just about as long as possible, Google has pushed an update to the I/O app, and it adds some cool stuff.