Android TV may look different from vanilla Android, but underneath that tiled interface is the same operating system you know and love. That means it's possible to sideload whatever APKs you want. The thing is, without a touchscreen, most of them are pretty useless.
Take the regular Amazon Instant Video app. Besides requiring that you have the general Amazon app installed first, it fails to provide a passable experience on Android TV (which lacks an officially sanctioned Instant Video app because Amazon). Read More
You've got a zillion choices for home screen replacements on Android, but Nova Launcher has consistently been one of the top options for the last few years. It was starting to look a little dated, though. After a number of beta updates, the stable v4.0 redesign is ready to bring your home screen into the material age.
Video quality keeps getting better, which means file sizes keep getting larger, things keep getting more complicated, and software must continue to work harder. According to Googler François Beaufort, the developmental version of Chrome now has a new video renderer that should be able to handle 4K content without stuttering.
You can try things out for yourself by installing Chrome Dev from the Play Store, enabling chrome://flags/#enable-new-video-renderer, and restarting the browser. Read More
Update Wednesday is starting off with a new version of the Gmail app. There don't appear to be any grand changes with this release, but it does boast at least a couple minor improvements. The only obvious change in this update comes in the form of a new full screen workflow for adding email accounts. A quick teardown also reveals that users will have the option to add vacation responders to their Exchange accounts, and Gmail's Unsubscribe feature is coming soon. Read More
Google Fit users, it's time to get off your butts and update the activity-tracking app. Version 1.52 has rolled into the Play Store, and it's ready to hit the gym with a new set of clothes and one of those fancy wristbands.
For starters, Fit can now track distances and calories. Fire up the app to see how far you've gone and how much you've burned in the process. Google has tweaked the look a bit, and you can now group your fitness history by days, weeks, and months. Read More
Firefox Beta exists in the Play Store as a separate app that's open to the public, but regardless, there comes a time when things should go stable. For Firefox 38, now's that time.
As you would expect, version 38 comes with a number of new features. In addition to the changes we detailed in the past, this release also greets users with a redesigned launch screen. The old pop-up has been replaced with a landing page that is inherently less jarring. Read More
BitTorrent brought an alpha version of its Bleep private messaging client to Android last year, and today it's officially launching on all major platforms including Android. Bleep doesn't require an account to sign up and all your messages are encrypted with local keys so no one else can access your data.
We've followed smartpen maker Livescribe's path to Android compatibility, starting with their announcement at CES that they would finally bring their app to the platform. It then released as a preview less than two weeks ago in select locales. Starting today, they are both dropping the "preview" label and making the app available globally.
Livescribe+ and its companion app collectively manage the connection and notes taken with their newest smartpen, the Livescribe 3. Read More
Just like on mobile, Android TV users turn to the Play Store to install new apps. An update has rolled out that bumps the software up to version 5.4.12. The most immediate difference is a tweaked look, as the interface now sports larger titles.
On the functionality front, there's now an Update All button. Presumably it bumps all of your apps up to the latest versions, just as the Play Store does on smartphones and tablets. Read More
One of the less glamorous improvements to Android 5.0 Lollipop is the move to updating WebView via the Play Store rather than only with system updates. WebView is the component that lets apps render web pages internally rather than kicking you over to a browser. A recent update to WebView was crashes left and right, but now Google thinks it has that all sorted out.