Not only is Google announcing all sorts of stuff today, but it's also updating a slew of its apps (it is Update Wednesday, after all). Today's Google Search update brings a huge improvement: "OK Google" hotword detection to any screen... even the lockscreen. If you're plugged into a charger, the feature will even work with the display off. This lines up with the earlier rumor that it was coming eventually.
Once enabled (Google Now > Settings > Voice > "Ok Google Detection"), you'll have to enable Audio History and say the words three time in order for Now to register your voice – much like setting up the hotword detection on the Moto X and recent Droid devices.
If you own a Parrot Flower Power smart plant sensor, or you're thinking about buying one, you will be happy to know that the device isn't limited to syncing with an iOS app anymore. The Android app is out in open beta now on the Play Store, letting you monitor all your garden and plant needs from your phone.
Data is retrieved via Bluetooth Low Energy from the plant sensor and sent via the app to the Parrot Cloud for analysis.
Google Play for Education is an Android thing, not a Chrome thing. But considering the fact that Chromebooks' low prices and web-connected nature make them perfect terminal PCs for schools, it makes a lot of sense to bridge that gap. Today Google has done so, making the Google Play for Education page and app delivery system work for Chrome apps, Play Store books, and other content. It should be a familiar and relatively easy way for teachers and administrators to get things done.
Google Drive received a substantial bump to version 2.0 today, bring it up from version 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52. The new app doesn't seem to have many user-facing changes outside a single big one we noticed, in the form of a brand-new UI in the file details view. Take a look below.
This new interface is substantially more modern, completely ditching the top bar in favor of a blown-up document preview and a grid of buttons that make performing tasks with your files much easier.
Google Play Services is that app on your phone that doesn't look like it does anything, but actually does a lot of things. This is how Google rolls out new services and features to the core of Android sans OS updates. Today we've got the details on Play Services v5.0. This covers some of the features Google announced in the I/O keynote and a few smaller ones as well.
Are you curious to see how all the new parts of Android will work together? Do you want this information delivered in advertisement form? Would you prefer this ad to feature an attractive yet non-threatening male model, a generic alt-rock backtrack, and a cute doggy? Then sit back and watch, my highly-specific friend, because your world is about to be rocked.
OK, so Google's latest advertisement isn't exactly breaking the mold here, but it does show a pretty seamless transition between an Android L phone, an Android Wear watch, an Android Auto car, and finishing with Android TV.
If you're still toting around a stock AT&T Galaxy Note II, good news: your phone is finally getting Android 4.4.2. The rollout should be starting now, and includes all of the basic 4.4 goodies you can expect coming from 4.3, like wireless printing, the new storage access framework, SMS default app selection, Google Wallet tap-to-pay support, and a few others. Here's Samsung's full changelog:
OS upgrade to Android 4.4.2 KitKat
New Lock Screen Access
Media Controls - full-screen album art and media controls when listening to music
Camera Shortcut - access the Camera application right from the lock screen
Improved user experience when multiple messaging apps are installed - All SMS and MMS messages are together in the same app, alongside other conversations and video calls.
A quick glance at the OneDrive 2.6 changelog on the Play Store probably would have you saying "meh," but if you actually read it closely, it's more of a "seriously Microsoft, are you kidding me?" The multi-billion dollar software giant's Android app for its cloud-based storage service was apparently lacking a little something called "search" until its most recent update. So now you can actually find your files and folders in OneDrive without aimlessly navigating through them with no help.
Buried deep in the list of new features revealed for the L release of Android, whenever that comes out and whatever it will be called when it is, was BLE Peripheral Mode. This addition to Android is part of the Bluetooth Low Energy profile. Previous versions of Android could use BLE-enabled devices, but only as a primary device. The newly-enabled Peripheral Mode should allow apps on any Android phone, tablet, or what have you to send data to other devices.
The zombie apocalypse isn't over yet, and the way it unfolds is entirely up to you in season two of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. This sequel was launched on Amazon's Appstore a few weeks ago, but now it's in the Play Store, which most of you probably prefer. Hey, it's better than last time when it took three months to make the trip over to Google land.