The latest release of Chrome Beta doesn't include many big, user-facing changes, but is instead mostly filled with incremental improvements to long-term development goals. The one goodie for end users that you may notice in normal use is the newly-added ability for websites to give you an Android notification with play and pause buttons to control audio.
For websites using up-to-date APIs, audio and video that is over 5 seconds long will result in a notification being displayed for easier control. Read More
Google is certainly no stranger to testing new features slowly. Most recently, it released an update to YouTube's UI that's been in testing for at least four months. And for Google, this is a good thing. Testing new features with limited samples of users helps get data not only on their usefulness, but also on how they augment user experience and engagement.
That brings us to the Play Store, an app where nothing is more important than engagement. Google appears to be testing a new feature called "Related Interests," which lists off various categories with round chips similar to the chips used for artists on Google Play Music's web interface. Read More
Do you have a Chromecast or an Android TV device? Then open up Chrome on your desktop, make sure that you've got the Chromecast extension installed, go to this website, click "redeem all offers," then click the Google Play offer in the upper-left corner. You'll get a free movie rental voucher on your account, which can be applied when you checkout any movie on the Play Store. HD movies are valid as well. Even though the freebie is specifically to promote the Chromecast's second birthday, connecting to an Android TV box will get you the credit too.
This offer is valid in the United States and a few other countries (commenters mentioned Germany, Australia, and France) but doesn't appear to be a worldwide promotion. Read More
Not everyone wants to attach a credit card to their Google Play billing, and that's fine. There are other ways to buy content from your phone, like carrier billing for example. This system is quite convenient if your carrier supports it, but that's often not the case internationally. Google has updated its support pages today with five more supported carriers around the world. Read More
360-degree video for YouTube was introduced earlier this year, giving users the ability to move their phones or mouse cursors to shift their POV in any direction. Within a short time major advertisers such as Coca-Cola and Nike began using the new technology to create videos for their YouTube channels with the hopes of achieving greater customer engagement.
Based on initial feedback from the videos that were posted, viewers are more likely to watch a video in its entirety when they can control the direction the camera is facing. A 360-degree Coca-Cola video celebrating the 100th anniversary of their curvy bottle had a 36% higher view-through rate than the standard, single viewpoint video. Read More
It's one thing to claim you have an open approach and another thing to make it easier to use your competitor's product. Google is putting their money where their mouth is as they release a Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office, though there is still some work to do. While on one hand you can see this as a way to help users avoid Docs, Sheets, and Slides, it also provides feature parity with Drive's own competitors OneDrive and Dropbox, both of whom enjoy deep integration with the office suite.
At this point, the plug-in only works on Windows and users are reporting that it doesn't function on the Office 2016 pre-release versions which will launch very shortly alongside Windows 10. Read More
Last month Expansys USA was willing to sell you a Nexus 9 LTE for $380. That was and remains significantly less than the $600 the Google Store charges for the same device. At the time, it was also less than Amazon, but that company has since dropped its price down to $375.
So, why are we all gathered here around this blog post then? Because Expansys USA is now ready to sell you a Nexus 9, still with LTE, for just $340. That's $25 less than Amazon, and it's nearly half as much as what Google wants. Heck, it's cheaper than the official starting price of the 32GB Wi-Fi model. Read More
You won't be able to stubbornly cling to the old Google+ Photos much longer (assuming people are doing that). The official Google+ account has confirmed that August 1st is the shutdown date for Google+ Photos. It won't be a huge adjustment for most users—the new Google Photos already has all your stuff stored and organized. Read More
If you haven't been able to grab a free Google Cardboard VR headset from various trade shows, under-supplied OnePlus promotions, Conan O'Brien, or anyone else, there's one more option. FreeVRGoggles.com does what it says on the box, so to speak: if you're a United States resident over the age of 18, just enter an address and an email and they'll send you a free Google Cardboard unit. (You can probably use a fake email address... and you might want to.) Slip your phone inside and you get access to all the compatible apps on the Play Store. Why? That's an interesting question. Read More