For a while now, we've been aware of an unreleased keyboard theme, shown off in screenshots of Google Chrome on the Play Store. Today, the Android 5.0 Lollipop developer preview brought us Google Keyboard 4.0 that carries both the Material Light and Dark themes. There's really not much to say about the themes that can't be communicated in images - they are similar to the keyboard included in the original dev preview, but now there's a light theme.
We've been waiting on a big update to Google's search app, having seen screenshots here and there that hinted at an updated design. With today's new Lollipop developer preview, the Google app's 4.0 incarnation was made available. We've got a download at the bottom of the post, but be sure to read the instructions first as getting this up and running on pre-L devices requires some extra fiddling. Also, you'll need to be rooted.
Of course, as I have to pick up my son from daycare, breaking news had to hit, and Google had to start pushing out the Play Store 5.0 update (5.0.31, to be exact). We'll start looking at every corner in just a bit. In the meantime, a few things are immediately obvious. One, it looks like the app in our exclusive early look from mid-September.
You would think that with the popularity of Google's search engine, Gmail, Maps, Docs, and all of the company's other web apps, it would know everything about us by now. Millions of us have Android devices in our pockets capable of transmitting our location to Google servers every second of the day. But there's one thing Google hasn't been able to pin down just yet--our opinions. It wants to know these enough to pay us (kind of) for the information.
People use Twitter to share just about everything: mundane thoughts, witty commentary, pictures of food, and their favorite sounds. That last bit is the only part of this list that requires a user to jump away from the app. Now the company is addressing that. Twitter has rolled out Audio Cards, a way for users to stream music and other sounds directly within the Android app.
The experience is not all that dissimilar to how Twitter handles images.
The cool kids like the quality of their music turned up all the way to 320 kbps (the coolest ones prefer lossless), but that's a luxury that often goes away with streaming music over the Internet. Rdio says it's had enough with that lower quality crap (I can't really tell the difference, but the cool kids tell me that stuff's awful), so it is bringing in the ability to stream and download songs at 320 kbps over both Wi-Fi and a cellular connection.
Motorola's always-on voice control system is a little less special than it was a year ago, but it's still a neat feature. It's still got some room to grow, though. The recently rebranded Moto Voice app is improving a bit today. Specifically, it should reduce some of that lag when initiating commands by voice.
The Google Keyboard isn't one of the flashier apps out there, but it has proven to be an important tool for many people all over the world. The latest update brings better organization to the settings screen and adds support for 8 additional languages including: Bengali (India), Hindi (Compact), Kannada (India), Malayalam (India), Marathi (India), Tamil (India), Tamil (Singapore), and Telugu (India).
Left: Old settings screen, Center: New settings screen.