Several months ago, we discussed something called Nearby, a project that - at the time - seemed to be Google's effort to let "people, places, and things" know when a user is, well, nearby. It seems that Google is still hard at work on its effort to connect various devices to each other and their surroundings, but Copresence (an internal name for this functionality) may have a more specific scope in this effort than we first estimated, apparently including iOS devices in the fun.
Google Admin has recently received its first update of the year. If you aren't the administrator for a Google for Work account, then there's nothing here for you to sink your teeth into. But there are a few new features here for people on the management side of things.
Administrators can now implement a 4-digit PIN that works on numerous devices. This way you could have all of the spare tablets in a college IT department, for example, secured with the same code that gets changed every week or so.
We've been seeing bits and pieces (and fully functional prototypes) of Google Stars for a long time now. The tool, which for now acts as a replacement for Chrome's bookmark manager, has been in development even longer, but it looks like the Chrome extension might finally be ready to roll (assuming it doesn't get pulled again) as Google released "Bookmark Manager" to the Chrome Web Store earlier today.
Despite the new name, the extension takes over chrome://bookmarks just as before, with options to organize bookmarks into folders, give those folders descriptions, and even share folders with others.
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides have all received some love today, though the visual changes here are minor. For the most part, these apps were already all material-ed up, and while this update does dot some i's and cross some t's, it doesn't quite leave us satisfied. Fortunately that's not all there is to see here.
Let's get the biggest visual tweak out of the way first. Yes, Google has changed the hamburger menu icon in the action bar.
Months ago, we posted a rumor about "modular actions" set to come to Google's Search app (now just called Google) along with "Ok Google Everywhere" functionality that would allow users to activate search from anywhere on their device. The latter has already been implemented, but Google is still inching toward the former. With the technically unreleased Google app, the search interface can overlay apps from which it is called, but Google today announced another step forward - the ability to let apps hook into search by accepting voice queries from the user.
Primer: Marketing for Startups isn't like most of Google's other Android apps. For starters, it's the first to appear in the Play Store under the publisher "Google Learn." The app also happens to be such a niche product that only a specific target demographic will benefit from it.
As the name says, Primer is aimed at helping startups manage their marketing efforts. A great deal of work and knowledge goes into getting a new brand in front of consumers and establishing awareness.
Project Ara stirred up plenty of excitement when it was first announced, and it continues to entice people with its promise of a modular and upgradeable phone. We recently learned that users will be able to hot-swap modules (excluding the CPU and screen) while the device is on thanks to a modified version of Android Lollipop.
Now Phonebloks has shared a video of Ara's porgress at NK Labs, a Massachusetts-based contractor doing a great deal of work on the project.
Update 2: Wow, that was fast. One of the Android Police staff already has at least some of the Material Design changes enabled for searching from Chrome for Android, and others are reporting that they can see them as well. This isn't active for everyone - even my Nexus 5 with the latest KitKat firmware is showing the old interface.
Good news! Those lucky individuals who are already using Inbox by Gmail, Google's latest comprehensive reimagining of email, are now able to invite three people to the service, just by hitting (or hovering over) the compose button (which Google calls "speed dial"). It's not clear if every user has received their allotment of three invites just yet, but Google says everyone can expect to get three invites "soon."
Hey Inboxers, you can invite your friends.