If you fire up a game on Android with Play Games integration, you may notice something new. The level cap for those at the top of the XP heap has been raised to 25, and the icon border is blue. It used to be 20 with a pink border around the icon. That means you may be a whole five imaginary points better than your friends now.
Welcome to Google Update Wednesday, everyone, where you never know quite what you're going to get. The Wheel of Fate has given us a Chromecast update this week, and it's a doozy. A brand new user interface matches the rest of Google's various Material Design apps, more or less. But even more interesting is that the Chromecast app now allows screen casting (where your phone or tablet's screen output appears on your television) for all devices.
The foldable cardboard VR kits Google gave away at I/O 2014 weren't just a one-off stunt. Today, in its developers blog, Google had some big announcements for the home-brewed virtual reality viewer.
First up, Google has grouped a handful of Cardboard-compatible apps into their own collection on the Play Store. The Cardboard app itself has also received an update, with the ability to discover cardboard apps on the Play Store, and launch them directly from the viewer.
Roman Nurik's Muzei, the live wallpaper that puts art (or any other collection of images) front and center on your home screen, got a big update to version 2.0 today.
The most noticeable changes are in the app's interface, which has been updated for Lollipop. The design stays true to the experience many users are already familiar with, but adds some new touches, including a revised launcher icon, and a FAB for adding images to the "my photos" category.
Android Wear is receiving one of its major updates in the next days to 5.0 with a lot of goodies in tow, like official support for custom watch faces, undoing for notification dismissal, and more. The app counterpart on Android devices is getting updated too to keep up with these new features, and that new version is starting to roll out now.
The update bumps Android Wear (the app, not the software running on your watch) to 1.0.5 and doesn't seem to bring much beside a spiffy interface update to a more Material look.
Google started pushing an incremental Android update to a handful of Nexus devices early last week, with factory images for those units shortly after. Today, the 5.0.1 images for the Nexus 6 and Nexus 4 are live and ready for your flashing pleasure. Surprisingly, we're still not seeing anything for the Nexus 5, and the 2012 Nexus 7/LTE model are of course lagging behind as well. We'll keep you posted as more images become available.
You can buy a Gear VR in the US now, but you need a Galaxy Note 4 to get any use out of the device. While the headset comes with extra sensors, much of the computing power takes place on the smartphone side of things. An update is now rolling out to the Sprint and Verizon versions of the Note 4 that get things ready to go.
Among the feature additions in the latest Hangouts update is the ability to switch between Google Voice and carrier SMS without diving into the app settings. All you have to do is tap on the "spinner," the toggle in the conversation window that already allowed you to alternate between Hangouts and SMS. Now, provided you have a Voice and carrier number, you'll have two SMS options.
Update: Aaaaaand it's gone, according to Australian site Ausdroid. It looks like Google isn't having it any easier keeping the Nexus 6 in stock in the southern hemisphere.
Psst. Hey, Aussies. Head over to your local Google Play Store's Devices section. You might see something you've been waiting on for a while.
That's right, the Nexus 6 is now being sold in the Play Store in Australia. And by "being sold," I mean that it's still several weeks away from shipping, but Google will be more than happy to take your money now.