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
Version 1.4 of the Android Wear app started rolling out late Friday. The theme of this update, at least for what's currently live, is a set of changes to the Settings screen. There are a couple of new options, but they come at the expense of the battery stats screen. A look under the hood also shows that a few other features are either live or in the works for the next Wear OS update. Read More
A late-night update to the Play Store slipped out just before midnight. A close examination doesn't turn up any big visual changes or new features, but this version is begging for a teardown. I'm not going to beat around the bush, if you've read the title, you know why you're here. Yes, it's true, family sharing and gifting are on the way. No doubt about it. There's even a neat way to add credit cards if they have NFC. There's no point in teasing it out, just get to reading. If you want to jump straight to downloading the latest version, there's a link at the bottom of the post. Read More
The Google app now has its own beta channel, and the first official version dropped last week. Of course there are a number of bug fixes and probably some fine tuning for performance, but no notable features seemed to turn up between the two releases. However, like most other updates, there are new clues about features we've yet to see. This time around, there is evidence of Chrome's Custom Tab feature coming to search results, a new event card for concert tickets, and a pair of new cards for system status toggles.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence.
It has been a busy month for Google. Marshmallow was officially released, YouTube finally has the subscription service we've been asking for, and some new Nexus phones are shipping. Also on the docket for this month was a new version of the Play services apk. A couple of weeks ago, v8.2.98 began rolling out to a short list of handsets. It was followed a few days later by a .99 release, and then another minor bug fix pushed it up to v8.3.00. There hasn't been a blog post to discuss new features or APIs, which is a bit unusual, but there are a few interesting bits in the apk waiting to be seen. Read More
Google Keep received a seemingly minor update this week, bringing the version number up from v3.2.354 to v3.2.415. There aren't any visible new features or even any particularly notable changes, but that doesn't mean the only changes are bug fixes. A teardown shows that Keep is due to receive its own built-in drawing mode so users can easily record their own doodles, scribbles, and sketches. Additionally, users will be able to annotate imported images like photos and screenshots. Read More
Not everybody is into live streaming gameplay, but for those that are, and particularly those that play a lot of games on Android, this week's update for YouTube Gaming was a pretty big deal. It brought much-needed support for recording and live broadcasting your screen directly to YouTube. While the update is significant for the features we now have, it also happens to include some signs for a few more things we can expect in the future. We can see a few of YouTube's newer features are going to hop over to the gaming side, including background playback, offline playback, and even Cardboard support. Read More
Yesterday brought a brand new update to the Play Store, bringing the version up to 5.10.29. There are some new UI elements, even if most of us aren't allowed to see them yet, and we can now copy text from the what's new and description sections. Naturally, Google included a few hidden tricks and treats just waiting to be discovered. We can expect to see books organized by series, apps described with size, and some friendlier welcome and exploration messages.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.