Microsoft's employees have a lot of free time on their hands, what with taking forever between each update to their Windows Phone platform and other priority stalling operations. They like to use this free time in the Garage, developing apps for Android, just 'cause y'know, it's fun to imagine yourself working on cool projects for once. After Bing Torque, this Journeys & Notes app seems like a mash-up of some features from Foursquare, Field Trip, and The Traveler.
"OK Google, what is Microsoft Garage?" Well, Rita, it's an idea incubator for Microsoft employees who like to dabble with things non-Microsofty in their spare time, like Android for example. They have a crush on us, but they still can't completely deny their allegiance to the quad colors of Redmond so they indulge by mixing in some Bing bangy bongiddy features. "Ah, thanks Google. Can you give me an example?" Sure Rita, that Bing Torque app they just released, though if you ask me, they need a copy editor for their Play Store listing: "It is like to have Microsoft’s Cortana running on your smart watch." That was a direct quote and it is like to read a torturous story for me.
Reaching "Inbox zero" is not an easy task. Especially when there are those emails that might require future action, or those that hang in a nebulous state of still being useful despite the conversation having ended. It's also not very easy to parse out exactly what you need to get done after poring over a page of emails. To address both of these issues (and a few others), Google has been working on a project called Bigtop.
We spotted it in a teardown of the new material Play Music app this morning, but it looks like a new set of media controls in Android Wear are live - and here's exactly what they look like.
The new controls get a red-themed makeover and volume +/- buttons, plus a nifty kind of physical remote key animation. It's nice. For Play Music, these new controls require two things: the material version of Play Music (which contains an updated mini APK for Wear with these controls) and the 4.4W2 update to Wear, which is rolling out to some devices now, like the LG G Watch.
We've already seen about a half-dozen Google apps leaked in a Nexus 6 system dump, but we haven't taken a look at Google Drive yet. The app does have some material design in store though - as with the others - it's still in testing, so anything could change. That said, it's worth taking a look. Google Drive has implemented many of the new material design paradigms that make the app cleaner, leaner, and easier to use.
Nova Launcher continues to let you emulate the Google Now Launcher while enjoying a plethora of customizations options. The newest version brings Lollipop animations and icons, along with a few tweaks to the existing functionality.
When it comes to pushing pixels and providing deeply immersive experiences, consoles have a leg up over Android devices. But this doesn't mean that phones or tablets don't have a role to play in couch-based gaming. Xbox One SmartGlass users can turn to the Android app as a way to manage their Xbox account and interact with others without having to back out of their game.
An update has rolled out to the SmartGlass app, which is still in beta, that gives users a place to highlight their best game clips, show off their achievements, or share their location.
JuiceSSH has hit the big 2.0, and to celebrate this occasion, developer Sonelli packed in a few extra changes and perks to get this party pumpin' (okay, that's probably not exactly the way the developmental process progressed, but this version of events just sounds juicier). This release brings in a vibrant UI redesign, one that gives terminal users transparent system bars. Folks can switch the color of this new layout by changing the theme, which they no longer need to be a pro user to do.
Have you gotten tired of these app walkthroughs yet? Well, we have one more for right now - Google Play Books. The update to Google Play Books that we're looking at here is - like everything else - pre-release, meaning things could change a little or a lot before the app is actually released. But what we're seeing so far is a minor nudge for the app, bringing it into line with the rest of Google's apps.