Wednesday was packed with an onslaught of app updates, many of which came with at least a few notable features. While a bit on the quiet side, the Play Movies & TV app came with some worthwhile new features of its own. Most of the new features are hidden under the Settings screen, including a toggle to finally shut off binge-watching on phones and tablets and a pair of options to enable notifications for new TV shows and when things on your Wishlist become available or drop in price. There are also a few other subtle differences behind the scenes.
Here's the official changelog for Play Movies & TV v3.10:
Wishlist any movie that's not yet available for purchase and receive notifications when it's available to buy or rent
More reliable playback
Play Movies & TV channel in Android TV Live Channels app
An update back in early October brought binge-watching, which filled in a popular feature for serious TV watchers.
Google removed the watch battery stats from the Wear app some time ago, but it wasn't really much of a loss. They were borderline useless at the time anyway. In the latest version of Wear (18.104.22.1680307.gms), the battery stats appear to have returned. As to whether or not they're still junk, I cannot say yet.
Remember cable? It sucked. You had to deal with commercials, and you could only watch what the network decided you should watch. It was a nightmare that many of us couldn't wait to — oh, some of you still have it? Oh, you like it? But... but why?
Anyways, times have greatly improved for cord cutters. There's YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, HBO Now, Showtime, Google Play, Watch ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, PBS, and so many other options for streaming video.
The downside? We have to keep up with what's available where. This conundrum has led to the proliferation of TV guide-ish apps that will tell you what's playing on which services (oh how things have come full circle).
Yesterday was such a big update Wednesday that it's bleeding into Thursday with the likes of Snapseed. The v2.2 update is rolling out, and proponents of RAW photography on mobile will be happy to hear (and see) that it improves the editing process. There are a few other tweaks too.
Google announced that multi-room audio is finally available for the Chromecast Audio dongle today, after several months of waiting. The new feature allows you to simultaneously cast the same audio to as many CC Audios as you have on your network. You can create groups of dongles specifically, too, which then appear on the Chromecast app for any compatible device.
The update also adds support for 96KHz/24-bit lossless audio playback, which is important for those in the audio community concerned with larger, higher numbers that are ostensibly significant in terms of quality. If you don't know what those numbers really mean, trust me - you don't need to care.
The Google Photos app had some cool sharing features when it was released back in May, but now it's getting even better at sharing. Google has announced the addition of shared albums to Photos (announced a few months ago), and it's available today on Android, iOS, and web.
Unlike some of my colleagues in the tech media, I don't have any particular beef with Walmart. Yes, they sell cheap imported crap, and yes, they under-pay their employees, stiffing both the people who make stuff and the people who sell stuff. But if you object to that strongly enough to actually change your buying habits, you'll soon run out of places to buy things. I do, however, object to the idea of a mobile payment system that works at exactly one store. That's taking the biggest problem with mobile payments as a whole, the lack of inter-operability, and turning it into a selling point.
Version 1.40 of YouTube Kids, Google's way of getting your children hooked on video clips from a young age, doesn't want any youngster missing out on what's going on outdoors. Encouraging them to look away from the screen would be too risky, so instead YouTube Kids now has a winter-themed homescreen. Look at the snow, and imagine the cold.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow's text selection behavior changed, pushing the toolbar from the top of the screen to a floating one that pops up right above your finger. It also made this popup expandable and accessible to developers, some of which have since updated their apps to take advantage of this new option. First, Google Translate added a system-wide Translate button, making it possible for users to convert any word or sentence they come across into another language. Then Medium built a highlight and respond option inside the toolbar that only got triggered while using its app. Now Wikipedia's beta app has received an update to start searches from anywhere on your device.
Google is on an update spree for most of its apps, probably getting everything as ready as it could before the end of the year holidays. An update to Google+ rolled out yesterday, bringing the app up to version 6.9 and updating the look of the Notifications tab.
Previously, this tab was a slide-out from the right side of the screen, and it only covered about three quarters letting other content show beneath it.