We know everybody is looking forward to the big Hangouts 4.0 update; and despite a pretty active day for updates, there's no sign that the big green chat app is going to get a big new version today. While we're waiting, a smallish update to the Google Play Newsstand app reminds us that there's plenty of stuff to read in the news. The changes in this release are mostly centered around improving performance and accessibility, and fixing bugs.
Pop over to the Play Store website on your computer real quick. I'll wait. Notice anything different? It's very likely that you're seeing the new app pages that started showing up months ago for users who weren't logged in. Now it sounds like almost everyone has the new look (everyone at APHQ is seeing it as well).
Do you like Halo? I mean really like Halo, like you've got a little light-up Cortana on your desk and you actually know the names of the various rainbow color versions of the Master Chief? Can you write me a 20-page essay on the leadup to and fallout from the battle of Reach? Then today is your lucky day, because Halo has come to Android... in the form of a video app with clips and guides and stuff.
Soccer games and tower defense games seem to have reached their design peak - while you see a new idea every once in a while, both genres are relatively static. That's probably what makes FootLOL so interesting: it mixes both genres, and a bunch of other random insanity, to make something wholly unique. And also insane. Just have a gander at the trailer below and see if you can scrape together the few bits of coherence in the gameplay.
NVIDIA partnered with several game developers to release four premium mobile games last week that were optimized for Tegra chips. Three of those games (Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Never Alone, and Funk of Titans) showed up on time, but Q.U.B.E. was nowhere to be found. Well, it's here now.
The Messenger app published by Google received a significant #updatewednesday release this morning, adding support for location sharing, stickers, and quick scrolling. All things, I think we can agree, which are good.
The new location sharing and sticker features, found under the "attach" dialogue, look like this.
Google's default keyboard has gotten really good, to the point that it's hard to actually charge for a keyboard app even if it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Just like SwiftKey last year, Fleksy has now gone free in the Play Store (and Amazon Appstore). Instead of paying an upfront price, there are themes and extensions that you can purchase if you so choose.
Disney has an unstoppable marketing machine at its disposal, and there's a new Star Wars movie coming out later this year. You can probably see where this is going. Yes, there's a new Star Wars app from Disney that aims to get you all hot and bothered for the new film. It's actually kind of neat, though.
The interface can be themed as light side, dark side, or a neutral droid scheme.
Googler Kirill Grouchnikov likes to show off the little UI flourishes in the Play Store, sometimes even before they are live for users. We like the small stuff, and you probably do too. So you'll be happy to know there are two subtle UI tweaks incoming with the next Play Store update. One is in the kids "character" section and the other is in the What's New box we all know and love.