Last week, Google pushed out an update for Google Search, bringing the version number up to 3.6.13. While it added support for deep linking into apps and a few more of the bits to make hands-free operation a little more convenient, most people probably felt like they didn't get too much out of this update. As it turns out, we found one more addition that might interest a few more people.
A couple of days ago, Google fulfilled its obligation to prevent me from sleeping by releasing a stack of newly updated apps for me to examine. Some of them were pretty straight forward, like the latest version of Android Device Manager, and others turned out to be pretty mind-boggling. That's how the YouTube update turned out. The apk grew by 2 MB, and Google certainly packed in quite a bit, but many of the additions don't make much sense.
Do you remember when Windows Vista came with a pre-installed 3D version of chess? It was a good way to show off what computers were capable of, and it sure beat playing another tired round of 2D, pixelated solitaire (if only for a few moments). Aside from that, there aren't many modern examples of digital chess being all that impressive. Even in a high resolution and covered in great textures, it's still a slow-moving board game.
Street View has come to 36 universities across the US and Canada. As we approach the start of another academic year, students and their parents (and everyone else) now have the option to get to know campuses by taking a virtual tour. The list is admittedly not comprehensive, but it contains beautiful views of Georgetown University, the University of Miami, and the University of Regina, to name a few.
Though Google explicitly points out the three universities above in its announcement, it has provided a list of others so that we don't have to go through the effort of hunting for these campuses ourselves.
At Google I/O, we heard a little bit about Google Fit - Google's renewed effort at quantified, managed health data. We heard that multiple partners had signed on and got a taste of what Google Fit would be able to accomplish, but beyond that details were a little hazy.
We were however told a preview SDK would be made available in "coming weeks," (a dreaded phrase to any Google user) and today that promise has been fulfilled.
Last night, YouTube received what looked like a substantial update v5.9, and, of course, I rushed to start digging through the APK in hopes of finding all sorts of under-the-hood changes. Imagine my excitement when I saw the following new string buried, among other things, inside res/strings.xml:
Music Pass! Onboarding! Tutorial! Video!!one1 Of course, I clicked it. Did you?
Wait, don't. Because you'll get rickrolled, just like I did.
Quite a while ago, we wrote about an upcoming hands-free (and eyes-free) interface code-named KITT. The interface - intended for use in the car or in other places where looking at your phone isn't wise - would be stripped down, displaying a black screen and large iconography, and would have the ability to read notifications aloud, among other things. More recently, an icon for an app called Google Hands-Free showed up in a promotional gif posted to Google's Google+ page, hinting that the service was still under development.
Google hasn't exactly had a great track record when it comes to official Nexus accessories. Accessories have been teased or shown off only to arrive months later or not at all (remember that Nexus 10 dock?).
Recently, though, Google has done a much better job - there are a bevy of case options available for both the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013) in a variety of colors, catering to almost all tastes (though at times the quality may not be ideal).
At this point, it's essentially impossible to deny that Android is beating other mobile operating systems with a big market share stick. According to a report issued by Strategy Analytics, phone manufacturers sold a combined 295.2 million smartphones worldwide in the second quarter of 2014, 249.6 million of which ran Android. That gives Google's OS a staggering 84.6% of the market share for new devices, up from 80.2% the previous year.
Google I/O 2014 has come and gone, but that doesn't mean great stuff from the conference isn't still coming out. The companion app used by thousands of attendees -and hundreds of thousands of fans and followers- has been open sourced! Code for the I/O app is meant to serve as an example of best practices for Android developers, providing fully functioning implementations of the latest design principles, UI controls, networking code, and more.