We've seen Hangouts 4.0 for Android before (and also on Android Wear), but that was two months ago. Suffice it to say, then, that Hangouts 4 hype has been building up tremendous pressure since, and now Google is finally delivering. Hangouts 4.0 will be available on the Play Store starting today, and of course, almost certainly will roll out in stages.
We already have a good idea of what's new in Hangouts 4.0, but here are the changes Google is offering up specifically:
- Hangouts is sleeker. Now updated with material design, Hangouts has a new look and feel: items respond to your touch in more intuitive ways and transitions between tasks are more fluid.
- Hangouts is simpler.
Most apps for cable and satellite TV providers suck. They tend to completely ignore user interface standards, throw up artificial limitations, and have poor performance. DirecTV's app seems to be an interesting exception - while customers aren't without complaints, the primary Play Store listing gives it a 4.1-star rating. Today it gets a handful of improvements, making the app better in some notable ways. The update is also being applied to the tablet version of the app, which has admittedly poorer ratings.
According to the change log, version 4.2 adds some considerable new functionality to the DIRECTV app home screen, which doubles as a remote control for a connected receiver. Read More
QKSMS, an SMS replacement app that boasts material design, customizable colors, and Android Wear support, has made all its paid features free. And no, that doesn't mean that the developer has just added some new features and made them pay-only instead. The app is simply 100% free from now on, according to its creator. Among the features that once required an in-app purchase of QKSMS+ are:
- Respond from Android Wear
- 150+ additional color combinations
- Automatic night mode
- Per-contact notification settings
The app's developer, Moez Bhatti, said in a Google+ post that he didn't make the app with the intent to earn money and felt that there wasn't any way to commercialize an SMS app without making for poor user experience. Read More
Oh, Opera. You've been around for a long time (considerably longer than Android or Google, in fact) but aside from a great showing back in the J2ME days, you've never managed to break into those competitive browser markets. The latest financial figures and projections, as reported by Reuters, don't look particularly good for the Norwegian software company. Though Opera Software's revenues grew in the second quarter, they didn't meet analyst expectations, and adjusted earnings missed the target by a factor of $1.6 million. The projection for total 2015 revenue has been cut from $630-650 million down to $600-618 million.
If all those numbers make your head spin, just know that they're not good. Read More
Microsoft's Translator isn't the first service to attempt to confront Google in the translation game, but it may be one of the first to pose a real challenge to Google Translate. Out of the gate, the app has an Android Wear component, a sorely missed feature in its competitor, and even though Translator does seem quite simplistic and limited, it has most of the basic features covered to warrant a more thorough comparison against Translate.
A different approach
While many of Microsoft's recent apps have adopted Material Design in their interface, Translator is more subtle about it. Both the welcome and the translation screens' blurry background and iconography are modern but not exactly Material. Read More
Google's Deep Dream program is a method for computers to analyze and recognize images with an artificial neural network. When visualized, its effects range from strangely appealing to completely terrifying (at least to our boring human eyes). Google showed off a visual version of some of its processing tools last month, then opened up the source code for developers. At least one or two of them probably got really excited and incorporated the code into new and interesting projects. The rest proceeded to use Deep Dream to turn Gawker and Buzzfeed into an extended LSD trip for about a week.
Want to join in the fun? Read More
Yesterday, we took a look at the YouTube Gaming app (at least the creator preview). Navigating through the app, users will see several elements obviously informed by YouTube's existing design - the video player can be minimized and dismissed, the navigation model relies entirely on tabs, and getting users to discover more content is the name of the game. But the app branches off from YouTube's design and UX - and the design of all of Google's Android apps - in some really remarkable and unique ways.
For that reason, I thought it may be fun to take a closer look at the design of YouTube Gaming (Creator Preview). Read More
Right now we're hearing about off-season trades and commitments for pro sports like the NFL, NBA, and NHL. A similar phenomenon has happened in the somewhat smaller world of Twitter clients for Android. Joaquim Vergès, the well-known developer of the Falcon Pro Twitter client, has been hired by Twitter itself. According to a series of tweets posted Friday afternoon, Vergès says that he's been hired specifically to work with the "Android core UI team."
Falcon Pro has won fans for being a full-featured Android client that outshines the first-party app in basically every respect, from interface to performance, even to supporting the built-in features of the Twitter platform itself. Read More
If you use Plex, you already know it's an amazing tool for managing your completely legitimate media library. It really is great - and today, it just got a little better, especially if you've been hankering to play back 4K videos on your Android or Android TV device.
Plex v4.8 for Android adds three things, but they're all pretty significant. First on the list is 4K HEVC (aka the H.265 codec) playback support. Now, the main reason that's really useful is, essentially, for playback on Android TV devices connected to a 4K display. While it'd be fine to downscale to 1080p on smartphones, if you've got a 4K television, you want 4K content. Read More