In July, Chrome Beta was updated with a new interface that more closely adhered to Google's new design vision - material design. Fitting with Google's occasional habit of stripping things down during major refreshes (see Google Maps on the web), many elements of the interface were sliced, rearranged, or simplified, including the tab indicator in the top right corner of the screen. Previously, the indicator showed users how many tabs were open, but after the redesign it simply displayed a square (or two stacked squares if you had multiple tabs open).
Google's official Glassware selection has a new member today - Pandora. As Carl Edwards explains in a post to the official Pandora blog, the addition of Pandora to the Glassware page of Google's MyGlass interface is the result of Pandora's semi-annual 72-hour hackathon. "It was such a hit," the blog says, "that we decided to show it to Google."
In keeping with Google's UX vision for Glass, the Pandora app is exceedingly simple.
YouTube has videos. Google+ has videos. In fact, Google+ uses the YouTube backend and interface for its videos. So it makes sense that you can seamlessly move uploaded videos between the two. Except that you can't, or at least you couldn't before the latest update to the web versions of both services. You'll need to "merge" your personal YouTube channel with Google+ to take advantage, which might be a sticking point for all those YouTube users that cried foul about the whole username thing a while back.
Google is continuing to shine a brighter light on Hangouts users who are currently online. A few months ago the company brought back the green dot that used to mark online contacts in the days of Google Talk (which was replaced with a subtle green line in Hangouts). Going forward, the messenger in the web version of Gmail will contain a new tab that puts online contacts at the top. It's still possible to message friends who are offline, they're just tucked at the bottom where they're out of the way.
Google's News & Weather app, AKA the "Genie" widget (after the APK name), has been more or less unchanged for years. The app comes with Nexus devices and some other relatively stock Android hardware, but aside from a few visual touches, the feed-based news and weather widget has been basically unchanged. Google has finally broken the app onto the Play Store for independent updates. The 2.0 release, years in the making, is now available for most 4.0+ devices.
Gecko Design Inc. is the kind of company others look to when they have ideas that they want to turn into physical products. Google is the kind that has said ideas, and it started working with the folks at Gecko in 2013. The two hit it off so well that they started discussing the possibility of taking their relationship to the next level, and the rest, they say, is history. The tech giant will use its newly acquired talent to boost up its Google X research lab.
When you perform a Google search and an answer appears alongside the list of results, this tidbit of goodness comes thanks to the company's Knowledge Graph. It provides much of the brainpower for Google Now, pulling down information from a variety of sources such as the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia. The thing is, Google thinks it's still too dumb, so the search giant has already started working on something better.
One complaint many Glass users have voiced since the Explorer Program began is that Glass has very limited contact management capabilities. Users could add contacts in the MyGlass interface, but those manually added contacts were the only ones a user could correspond with using Google's eye-mounted computer.
The Glass team is fixing that - and a number of other things - in an update to XE20.1, announced today. The update will allow Glass to see all a user's contacts, with starred contacts showing up for quick voice access.
Update #1 (8/12/14): It looks like Google deleted the tweet embedded below. Between that and the lack of an update to this support page, someone might have pulled the trigger early. But if those countries don't have access yet, they probably will sometime soon.
Update #2 (8/19/14): After a false start last week, the Play Music expansion now seems to be live. The official Google Play country availability page has been updated to reflect this as well.