Google is making two changes to the Play Store today, although one of these changes technically happened a few weeks ago and you didn't notice. Apps will soon carry content ratings so parents can make more informed decisions about what their kids have access to. Google also announced a manual review process for apps. Don't panic! Google has been doing this for weeks and no one has complained.
Motorola bundles a number of custom apps with its devices these days, including a gallery app with some handy features. This app has gotten an update through the Play Store that adds a few new features, improves some others, and includes support for more devices.
We have spotted a real unicorn: an established iOS app has come to Android with a smoothly functioning app that boasts Material Design from the get-go. It's neither a port of their Apple predecessor nor a half-baked effort just to claim cross-platform compatibility. If you're into a relatively minimal interface and an Inbox Zero type of approach to task management, Swipes is worth a look.
The workflow, if you want it to, can be a lot like Google's Inbox is for Gmail.
The Google Search app plays host to quite a few features and capabilities we take for granted on our phones, especially for anybody that makes extensive use of Google Now and the Google Launcher. An update just started rolling out that brings the app up to v4.3, but there aren't any immediately obvious changes in this release, at least not from a user-facing perspective. It's likely that this release is preparing for the soon to be open Cards API that will allow developers to insert their own content into the Google Now stream.
At South by Southwest, Aparna Chennapragada, Director of Product Management for Google Now offered a glimpse into the future of the feature which has become the heart of the search experience on Android. According to Chennapragada, the company plans to have a full API for Google Now cards ready soon. This will expand on the previously announced pilot program consisting of apps like Pandora, Lyft, and others.
Square's app for ordering food and drinks ahead of time won't be helping people consume meals much longer. Square has removed the app from the Google Play, and it plans to shut down the service in just a matter of days.
Well, there's a minor caveat. While users won't be able to place orders from a mobile app, they will still have the ability to order items for pickup through Square on restaurants' websites.
Just in case you were getting comfortable with the YouTube app's latest design, it looks like there may be more changes in store. It seems a number of users are encountering a new YouTube interface, apparently triggered server-side without an app update.
The change sees YouTube's hamburger menu flipping right out of the interface, going the way of Google+ in discarding the left-side navigation drawer. Instead, users are given four primary tabs - Home, Trending, Subscriptions, and your profile. Interestingly, a couple of these tabs seem to have bars underneath to switch from, say, all videos to music on the home tab, or from uploads to channels on the subscription tab.
Because there clearly weren't enough apps that help you count your steps and/or compare them with your friends, HTC has filled the imperceptible void. Fun Fit is a social fitness app where you and your participating Facebook friends (there are sure to be many!) pick "cute avatars" and compete in the time-honored contest of taking the most steps.
Despite their recent partnership with Under Armour, this would not seem to be a product of it. Rather than UA's more-serious-than-necessary aesthetic, Fun Fit tends toward the overly cheesy. As a product of HTC Research, it probably won't be part of the standard pre-loaded apps on future HTC phones, like the M9.
Along with site notifications, the latest Chrome Beta v42 has another new feature for improving the web app experience. The ability to add a website to your home screen from Chrome has been there for a while now, but not all web pages are created equal in this regard. These shortcuts work best for fully-fledged web apps and now Chrome will let you know when you have visited a good candidate for home screen placement.
To get an idea of how it works, check out this GIF from HTML5 Rocks:
Perhaps the most important aspect of this feature is that it will not appear every time you visit a qualifying site.
Google is rolling out a new version of Messenger with a few features you might care about. It's a big jump to v1.2 from 1.0, which was the previous Play Store version. There was a v1.1 build floating around, but that was only released on Android One handsets. This one's available to everyone—eventually, or right now if you get the APK below.