Duolingo, perhaps the best app for language learning on the Android platform, has added yet another option for prospective students: the native tongue of PewDiePie, Swedish. With the latest update, Swedish joins recent additions Irish and Dutch along with Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and Danish as options for English speakers. For now, Swedish is in a beta stage, according to Duolingo's website. You can still use it as normal though, they just don't promise absolute stability.
Unified Remote is a remarkably powerful app for remotely controlling the functions of your PC. (Not your TV, unless you have an IR port.) The last beta release of the app, which used the frustrating Google Groups testing system, implemented remote control support via an Android Wear app. Now you can get that Wear support in the standard Play Store version, no beta opt-in necessary. You'll need the full version, a $4 add-on, to access the Wear app.
In a major update, gReader has given itself a brand new look in addition to support for Lollipop devices. Unlike many recent app updates that have claimed to add Material Design, gReader is not exaggerating in their claim; it looks very good. And, true to form, gReader has preserved the ability to customize its look with themes, so you can still make it your own.
gReader’s 3.x versions already had a fairly modern look, so it wasn’t a great leap to conform to Material Design guidelines.
You know what would make me use Facebook Messenger more? (... Said no one ever, but let's just pretend, OK guys?) If I could send my friends photos with a bunch of stickers plastered all over them. Thinking that it's a great idea 4SHO (that's one of the stickers), some developers at Facebook's Creative Labs took it upon themselves to turn it into a reality. The result is Stickered for Messenger, an app that is as full of Kawaii as it sounds.
Flickr has updated its Android offering with a series of improvements, most notably a more appropriate two-column view in the activity feed for tablet users. Beyond the widescreen-specific feature addition, there are also enhancements to sharing within the app, cropping previously uploaded photos, and browsing with a fullscreen lightbox view.
Ever since Google integrated Voice with Hangouts, listening to voicemail has been a highly-focused affair. Unlike traditional voicemail, which we're conditioned to hold up to our ear like a phone call, voicemail in Hangouts comes with a play button that encourages us to treat it more like the audio file that it is. This is the same way Google Voice has treated it on the web for forever.
The downside is that turning off the screen or backing out of Hangouts has, until recently, caused the message to immediately stop playing.
Most of the things happening on Android Wear smartwatches are entirely dependent on the connected phone, but there is support for the watches to be a little more independent. The Sony SmartWatch 3, for example, has its own GPS chip that was enabled by the Android 4.4W.2 update. Now the popular fitness app RunKeeper has been updated to take advantage of it.
If you're a user of the popular media hub / DLNA / UPnP service BubbleUPnP, the Android app has just received a significant functionality enhancement you may be interested in.
Previously, if you wanted to cast a video or audio file not natively supported by Chromecast, you had to have a BubbleUPnP Server install on a computer on your local network so that the media could be transcoded before casting. The reason for this limitation was twofold: battery consumption on the Android device and the limited processing power of older phones.
Samsung's finally giving up on its flub of a chat platform, ChatON, early next year. Speaking to Engadget, Samsung confirmed that the app which no one asked be installed on their phone would be going offline on February 1st in all markets except the US, where it will shortly convalesce until some point before the end of Q1 2015. At which time, ChatON will die, and let's be real, probably go on to be reborn as some other not-very-good Samsung software product in a year or two, like a sort of crappy phoenix.