Nearly two months after we first saw the in-progress Hangouts 4.0 update, we were starting to worry it would never make its official appearance on the Play Store. But recently our collective wish was granted and Hangouts got a big update. Google says this is Hangouts' update to material design, but what exactly does that mean for the app? There's more here than just a new FAB, so let's take a closer look at some of the notable design changes in Hangouts 4.0.
The journey to material
Despite what the change log may suggest, Hangouts didn't suddenly arrive at "material" with the 4.0 update.
Android offers developers a great deal of freedom to experiment with apps and come up with (maybe) the next big thing. Now Google has launched a website where it plans to show off some of the most interesting projects on Android. It's called Android Experiments and there are already 20 apps and demos to check out.
The time has come. Dear people who use Twitter as their instant messenger of choice, your direct messages are no longer limited to 140 characters. Twitter announced today that it has removed the restriction and will begin rolling out the change to both Android and iOS.
After a controversial edit or two appeared in Map Maker alongside an uptick in spam, Google decided to halt user submissions while it figured out a way to deal with things. Now the company is starting to open Map Maker back up to users. It's doing so gradually. The first phase announced includes the countries of Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, Philippines, and Ukraine.
Previously Google automatically approved most submissions. A Googler would then review edits manually, especially if community members brought something to the company's attention. The hope was that users would police themselves.
Rather than develop new systems or allocate more employees, Google is increasing its reliance on the community to solve the problem.
Play Newsstand v3.4.3 has started making its way from the Play Store to avid readers, and it has a pair of features users have been asking for. Magazine subscribers will be happy to know auto-download has been added to give them convenient delivery of each new issue as it is released. Readers with a focus on current events will find the Unsubscribe option has been returned to the Read Now overflow menu where it is easily accessible but won't be tapped accidentally.
One of the best things about digital magazines is that they can be stored on a device and saved for occasions when little or no data connectivity is available.
Online streaming music is all well and good, but if you're hankering for the good old days of sliding FM dials, Rdio wants to oblige your craving. The long-standing streaming service is adding a new section to its app called "On the Air on Rdio," which gives users access to digital streams of 500 United States radio stations. The collection of stations covers basically every major market in the county, usually with a mix of top 40, classic rock, country, sports, and news content.
The radio stations come from a partnership with Cumulus Media, a radio conglomerate that owns all of the stations added.
Some homes are smart, and the Logitech Harmony serves as their brain. It provides a single location to control all the things, assuming of course that the products are supported. The latest update adds quite a few more to the list ranging from door locks to thermostats and a few things in between.
The latest updates to Microsoft's OneNote app have taken advantage of an ability granted to it by the openness of Android OS: the ability to place an overlay on top of other running apps. Similar to Facebook Messenger's chat heads UI, OneNote now has an opt-in feature called "floatie" that remains accessible while you use non-OneNote apps. The idea is that inspiration for notes may come at any time and you may not want to leave the app you're in to do it. And in spite of the silly name, my first impression of floatie is that it serves its purpose well.
Keeping to their normal rapid release schedule, Mozilla published v40 of the stable release of Firefox to the Play Store today. The biggest user-facing change in the update is one that was also present in the beta version of v40, allowing you to long press the forward or back buttons to see a list of your recently visited pages. Here's a quick look at how that works:
This is the sort of thing that only catches your attention when there aren't any other major changes, but this is one of those times. I don't think mobile browsers generally make going back very easy and sometimes the system back button isn't ideal when you plan to go back multiple pages.