It's been said many times that compared to Apple's tightly controlled walled garden, Android is the wild west of app development. I think that's been a good thing on balance, but not always. The lack of control can sometimes cause difficulties for developers and users alike. With Google's new semi-manual app approval process, it's taking the middle road, and that's probably good for everyone.
Lyft, the ride-sharing service that is more than happy to have someone drive you around town, will now let you pay for said trip using Google Wallet.
The functionality is available directly inside the app, where you can simply tap Add Google Wallet to skirt around entering your credit card number manually, assuming you already have one saved to your Google account. If you've bought something from the Play Store without using a gift card, then that's more than likely a yes.
Kids have really cool toys these days, but as with all things, 3D printing can make them even better. The latest app from Autodesk is called Tinkerplay, and it allows you to build a custom action figure from an assortment of parts, then export the .stl or .thing file to create it in real life with a 3D printer. Guys, this app is so, so cool.
HTC has published a trio of their own apps in the Play Store, each relating to device-specific functions that we will see in the HTC One M9 and probably all devices running Sense 7.0. BoomSound Connect claims to be an app dedicated to managing streams to AllPlay speakers, while the similarly-named Connect serves the same purposes, but for Bluetooth, DLNA, and Miracast streaming of audio and video. HTC Tasks is, well, HTC's tasks app.
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.