If you felt like Google clubbed you over the head with tons of announcements and releases last week, you're not alone. Between giving out the codename for Android M, a new preview release, an Android Wear update, and about a dozen other things, it was a huge week. Toward the end of the onslaught, a fairly innocuous update to Google Maps bumped the version up to 9.13 and it has a couple of useful shortcuts that deserve a look. There's also a new Google app, but it's not in the Play Store, and that deserves a Teardown-style discussion of its own. Read More
Forget Update Wednesday! Monday is the new big day. Not only were we treated to the latest M preview release and the official Marshmallow name, but a stream of app updates came rushing out after the sun had set on Mountain View. For many of these apps, little changed aside from a few tweaks and touch-ups to support the next major version of Android. Still, there were improvements to be seen on a couple of updates. YouTube received a couple of mostly unimportant modifications to the interface, but it also contains clues about some things we may see in the future. Read More
We rarely talk about apps losing features, but that's what has happened to Google+ today, but it's not such a bad thing. The latest update to v6.1 has started rolling out to users and it finally removes access to the Google+ Photos functionality that remained after the introduction of Google Photos at I/O 2015. A previous update warned users that the Google+ Photos functionality wasn't long for this world back in June, and about a month later Google officially announced it would be shut down on August 1st.
It may be a little behind schedule, but we all knew this update would be coming soon. Read More
Google surprised us with the long, long, long-awaited Hangouts 4.0 release earlier today, but that wasn't the only update worth paying attention to – Android Wear v1.3 turned up in the later hours, as well. At first glance, the only new option appears to be a selector in settings for choosing between watches for hacking or programming purposes, but a teardown reveals some great new features we can expect to see in the next major firmware release to Android Wear.
If you load Wear v1.3 to your phone right now, the only change you're likely to see is a new option in the Settings screen titled Device to Debug, which pops open a selector with a list of your currently paired watches. Read More
Have you ever been stuck in the middle of the woods with no way back to civilization, no laptop, and your boss expects you to deliver a spectacular presentation to your investors in 15 minutes? Neither have I, but it could happen – life is full of surprises like that. If you ever do find yourself in this situation, all you need is your smartphone, a half-decent wireless connection, and the latest version of Google Slides. Read More
The long-awaited Nearby is on the horizon, and it will be launching with Play Services 7.8. The APK is in the midst of its rollout right now. It contains a few elements of Nearby, and surely plenty of bug fixes and tweaks, but there are also plenty of interesting pieces hidden inside, as well. After a quick long examination, we've got the interesting bits and pieces ready for viewing, along with some theories about what it all means. It's time for a teardown!
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.
YouTube's Offline Playback feature was first introduced alongside Music Key back in November, finally giving people a way to store a (limited) selection of videos for trips into areas with poor connectivity, or just to avoid using up capped data plans. While it has remained mostly unchanged in the last 8 months, the latest update finally brings a few modifications. The interface is now a bit more informative and uniform, and there's a new low-quality option (which is actually a good thing). A teardown also revealed some big improvements to the voice command interface that has been in the works for a while. Read More
Version 4.9 of the Google app began rolling out late yesterday, but it's not sporting a lot of obvious additions. The only immediately visible changes appear under Settings -> Now cards, where a new toggle has been added to enable or disable lock screen notifications based on cards. Some updated text also appears below the new toggle, if you care about that sort of thing.
Left: old version. Right: new version.
The existing Notifications toggle gave users the option to determine whether cards from Google Now could occupy space in the notification shade. The new toggle brings a little more control by allowing notifications to appear in the shade without being shown on the lock screen where they could potentially overwhelm more important notifications. Read More