WhatsApp's developers are a little unpredictable. Sometimes, all it takes them is one swift update to add a ton of features, other times, they dabble painfully slowly with dozens upon dozens of beta releases until they get a small feature ready (Google Drive backup anyone?). But credit goes to them for keeping us on our toes and entertained with their small incremental updates, like this new version for example.
WhatsApp 2.12.312, which you can grab from the site's beta uploads page or from APK Mirror, has added a new rich link preview option. However, the feature is still very half-baked, so don't expect anything like Telegram's previews just yet. Read More
A reference to something called "music gifts" has appeared on the Google Play support page for Play gift cards today, and we frankly have no information at this point suggesting what they could be. The support entry, below, doesn't really provide any information, so we're left to speculate.
Could this be an upcoming way to gift albums or songs to people on Play Music? Or perhaps a way to gift Play Music All Access subscriptions themselves (that seems more likely to me)? We can't be sure, though the fact that this text appears at all is probably a sign Google is planning on announcing these "music gifts" relatively soon. Read More
Halloween. What a wonderful holiday. Costumes, haunted houses, pumpkin evisceration, and free candy. Seriously, there are few holidays that can compete with Halloween in crazy awesomeness and weirdness (St. Patrick's day, I'm giving you the second place prize).
When I used to work in the business world, I could wear orange ties and crazy socks to celebrate Halloween all month long. Now that I work in a hospital where I wear the same hospital provided scrubs every day, my options for self-expression are severely limited. Fortunately, the Halloween Watch Face now exists and I can carry a little Halloween spirit (Get it? Read More
VLC remains perhaps the best way to play video files of any shape or format on a desktop, and the story is similar on mobile devices. With version 1.6, the developers have pushed out some changes to smooth out your video playing experience. Read More
A truly useful piece of software? From Samsung? Color me surprised, too, but the company's new Game Tuner app is nothing short of incredibly handy for mobile gamers. As you may well know, playing visually-intensive games on your smartphone can demolish the battery fairly quickly. While most such games render at 1080p even on 2K displays like Samsung's, such resolutions can be big draws on both your remaining juice and your device's processor, causing throttling (and thus slowdowns) and excessive power drain. Samsung's new app lets you have a say in just how graphically hungry those games will be, allowing you to adjust maximum frame rate and resolution scaling. Read More
Hangouts for Android version 5.0 is rolling out to some users now, and it brings... nothing new in the way of features that we can find, actually. We do know this version is supposed to fix the broken animated GIF support that was an annoyance in Hangouts 4 (confirmed: they're fixed), but otherwise, you probably aren't going to notice much. There appear to be some very slight animation changes here and there, as well as a brief splash screen that pops up when the app opens to the main conversation view that wasn't present in the previous version (4.2).
It's possible you might spot some other subtle changes - for example, I noticed at least one checkbox toggle was a brighter shade of green, hooray - but this particular release of Hangouts seems to be mostly about under-the-hood adjustments. Read More
Reddit may or may not have its official Android app ready any time soon, but third-party developers are still more than willing to pick up the slack. BaconReader, one of the most popular Reddit client apps, has just been given a major update. The 5.0 release includes a much-belated Material Design user interface adjustment and no small amount of other changes, both user-facing and behind the scenes. Here's a quick comparison of the older version to the spiffy new Material Design layout: Read More
Check the YouTube app on your phone or tablet, user interface aficionados - you might spot something new. Like the other official Google apps have been doing for a while (quite a while), YouTube is getting a pull-to-refresh animation for relevant pages. It doesn't seem to be tied to any particular version of the app or of Android, and in fact we've only seen it active from one reader so far, so it seems like it might be a server-side switch.
The animation allows users to scroll up to the top border of the interface and beyond on the Home tab, channel pages, subscription pages, and more, with the familiar circular arrow icon indicating a refresh. Read More
Uh oh. Many users signing into Google Drive on the web are running into a little setback. The site loads, but that's it. Instead of a list of files, we're seeing a loading wheel that spins forever. Read More
It's easy not to think about just how much thought and computing goes into everything that Google does, but one of YouTube's latest changes reminds us of precisely that.
Every video on the site has a thumbnail that's supposed to offer you a glimpse into what you're about to watch. A bad image will discourage you from clicking. Good ones lead to more views and greater revenue. So naturally both content creators and Google would prefer to have better thumbnails.
Using deep neural networks, the YouTube team has launched an improved "thumbnailer." Every frame in a video gets evaluated by a quality model and is assigned a quality score. Read More