It has been a little quiet on the app front today, but it is in fact Update Wednesday. There's a new version of Hangouts available for download right now, and it has at least one useful tweak. Presumably there are also some bug fixes and other under-the-hood changes.
Today, Google officially announced Gmail Blue Inbox, a service we posted about just last night. Previously codenamed Bigtop, Inbox by Gmail is a full reimagining of how an email product should work, and how users should interact with their email.
It is really rare for a product to come out that actually reimagines something rather than just claiming it does, but Inbox is really a fresh take on... the inbox.
Now that you can put widgets on your lockscreen, there's a whole host of things you can do even before unlocking your phone. and if that's not enough, there are afewalternativelockscreens that will let you do even more. Today we're getting another one from a slightly surprising source: Microsoft. Say hello to the Next Lock Screen, an app from the company's Microsoft Garage internal team.
Google is rolling out a big update to the Google Earth app, and as usual it's a staged deployment. Never fear, we are here with an APK download. In this new version (8.0) you'll find better 3D images, cleaner maps, KML import, and more.
Google hasn't updated the changelog on the Play Store yet, but there's a whole blog post about Google Earth v8.0. The gist of it is that 3D images will look much better now with the new rendering engine.
Google has just launched a new email system, but you can only get on in by requesting an invitation or being sent one from a friend. No, it's not 2004, it's Google's new Inbox system, an alternative to Gmail and a new way to look at electronic messaging in general. We've highlighted the new system before its official release, but now you can get it for yourself... if you're lucky enough to get through the invitation system.
Microsoft released a remote desktop app for Android just over a year ago, but now there's a new separate beta version of the app listed in the Play Store, and it makes some big changes. Of course, this still uses the RDP protocol, so you'll need a Pre version of Windows to use it. It's pretty robust if you've got the support built-in.
When it comes to technology, all devices slow down over time. As things like RAM and storage get used, the OS has a harder time trudging through all the data compared to when the device was brand spankin' new out of the box. While Android does a great job of making the most of the hardware it's given, sometimes a little help is needed to give it that extra push. That could mean something simple like cleaning out cached files to open up more storage, deleting old text and picture messages, or just getting rid of applications that haven't been used recently.
Microsoft's employees have a lot of free time on their hands, what with taking forever between each update to their Windows Phone platform and other priority stalling operations. They like to use this free time in the Garage, developing apps for Android, just 'cause y'know, it's fun to imagine yourself working on cool projects for once. After Bing Torque, this Journeys & Notes app seems like a mash-up of some features from Foursquare, Field Trip, and The Traveler.
"OK Google, what is Microsoft Garage?" Well, Rita, it's an idea incubator for Microsoft employees who like to dabble with things non-Microsofty in their spare time, like Android for example. They have a crush on us, but they still can't completely deny their allegiance to the quad colors of Redmond so they indulge by mixing in some Bing bangy bongiddy features. "Ah, thanks Google. Can you give me an example?" Sure Rita, that Bing Torque app they just released, though if you ask me, they need a copy editor for their Play Store listing: "It is like to have Microsoft’s Cortana running on your smart watch." That was a direct quote and it is like to read a torturous story for me.
Reaching "Inbox zero" is not an easy task. Especially when there are those emails that might require future action, or those that hang in a nebulous state of still being useful despite the conversation having ended. It's also not very easy to parse out exactly what you need to get done after poring over a page of emails. To address both of these issues (and a few others), Google has been working on a project called Bigtop.