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.
After Star Wars, Marvel, and The Walking Dead, it seems like just about any property is fair game for Zen Studios' expanding pinball franchise. The latest addition is South Park, Comedy Central's foul-mouthed animated show now in its 18th season. As usual with Zen Pinball expansions, you can get the two new 3D tables as either a stand-alone paid app or as in-app purchase expansions to the original game. The separate app is $4, or each table is $2, so it works out the same.
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.
Do you want to relive the adventures of The Lord of the Rings trilogy? Of course you do! It's not like reading the original books, watching a blockbuster film series, playing through countless console titles, and devouring fan fiction could adequately immerse anyone in the world J.R.R. Tolkien created six decades ago. So here's a mobile game that you can install on your Android device and take with you absolutely everywhere.
If you were a fan of "sim management" games in the early 2000s, you probably played at least one version of RollerCoaster Tycoon. Next year Atari will revive the franchise with RollerCoaster Tycoon World on the PC, but for now the official fourth installment of the series is oddly limited to mobile, arriving about six months late on Android. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 uses the same basic structure of the original 1999 game, albeit with remixed limits and annoyances for the free-to-play format.