The Play Books update from a couple of days ago turned up the first sign of life for the Family Library we've seen since mid-November. At the time, I made a quick prediction that matching strings would pop up fairly soon in Google's other content apps, and Play Movies & TV is the first to follow through. But this wasn't just a mirror image of the same strings, there's actually a bit of new information regarding movies sold as a bundle and seasons of television shows.
In case anybody is curious, this update doesn't have anything in the way of notable new features. Read More
It has been a little while since we've seen an update to Messenger, so something potentially big was expected from this release. Version 1.7 doesn't seem to bring any visible changes, but like a sugary cereal box, there is a cool toy hidden inside. Messenger will have its own Android Wear app, just like Keep, Play Music, and a few others. But in a quirky twist, this mini app can't be installed quite yet, not until your Wear watch receives an update to Marshmallow. Read More
Now that app updates are back to business as usual (more or less), Play Books is showing some activity again with a couple of small-ish changes that add a bit of polish. There are now shortcuts with links to different sections of the Play Store and an updated welcome card for the so-called Night Light feature. But the more interesting change is actually buried where it can't be seen in the live interface: some real signs that the Family Library is moving forward in Play Books. If you're looking for the APK, we have the link at the bottom. Read More
Google faces many interesting challenges with Android Auto. It seems like a simple task to build an interface that is less messy and more enjoyable than existing in-car systems. Given the low bar set by most existing platforms, this doesn't sound very difficult. However, Google is taking advantage of more advanced technology and clever design so Auto isn't just another small iterative step forward. A teardown of the latest update shows some interesting progress on new input methods that don't require as much attention and a parking assistant feature that remembers where you left your vehicle.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (application packages) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
A very long-awaited update to Google Fit began rolling out earlier this week, but it seemed to focus almost entirely on improvements to the Wear micro-app while the main app was all but ignored. As it turns out, that was a mistake. A fresh update to the app started rolling out yesterday and it brings the rest of the features that were intended for this release – and what a list of features they are.
Note: Everything here was about to be part of a teardown, but the update stole that thunder. Read More
A fresh update of Google Play Services is headed out to our Android hardware around the world. This brings the framework package up to v8.4 and actually carries a couple of user-facing changes for us to check out. There's nothing too big, which is pretty normal for a Play services update, but there are some nice visual touch-ups for Smart Lock and a new option in the Android Auto developer options. But that's not all, a teardown shows that we're getting much closer to family organization (yes, for family sharing) and app invites will finally become useful as they can finally be sent to the people that need them most – the people right next to us. Read More
With all of the activity surrounding YouTube Red, including a brand new YouTube Music app, it seems like a good time for a Play Music update. Version 6.1 just landed and aside from a mysterious new "Auto-offline" feature and a bit of cleanup in the Settings screen, it looks like a pretty typical bug fix release. However, the teardown tells a different story. It looks like this version also brings support for the recently announced family plans and Android Wear speaker support. As usual, we've also got a download link at the bottom if you can't wait for the apk to roll out to your account. Read More
Things are heating up for Android Wear lately. Earlier this week, a new version of the Android Wear companion app began rolling out to make preparations for the next OS update. There's now an update to the Google app in the Beta channel which follows up with some interesting changes of its own: a new Wear-specific app that places the Google Now stream into a distinct card on watches. A teardown also shows some interesting new experiments for continuous queries and text-to-speech. There's even a small tweak for the Google Now Launcher.
The Google Now Card
Views of the new Google Now card and the first page to the right. Read More
Offline navigation and search (and a few other things) are now legitimate features in Google Maps, even if most of us can't use them until our individual accounts are blessed by Mountain View. I get it, I'm in the same boat. Even though there are quite a few additions in this update, it seems that a couple of things didn't quite make the cut; but there are bits and pieces that show they're in the works. A teardown shows that we're probably going to see prices for different types of fuel, rather than just regular. Read More