Google just updated the web Play Store with a completely new UI that was teased back at I/O 2013, and it immediately caused a whirlwind of mixed reactions. We have a separate post coming up on all the differences as well as the features that didn't make it into the redesign (there are, unfortunately, a lot - even more than went missing in Maps v7), but right now I want to commend Google and address one aspect that immediately stood out to me within the first few seconds - speed.
There are a lot of cool things about the new Google Maps update, but a few features from the old app didn't make the jump. Google made a big deal about offline maps when it was added a few years ago. So it's a little surprising to see this feature missing in Maps v7... or is it? Mountain View has included a bit of an Easter Egg here.
If you want to cache an area for offline access, just go to that part in the app, then type "Ok Maps" in the search box.
If you eagerly updated your Android device to the shiny new version of Google Maps yesterday, only to despair at the absence of Google's Latitude location tracking/sharing service, there's a good reason for that. Latitude is going the way of Google Reader, and the service will disappear completely on August 9th. Google has made the change official on the "About Latitude" page of the Maps for mobile support hub, explaining that Latitude for iPhone, the Latitude API, and the various web services will be retired as well.
Google is continuing to make its monthly Glass updates available in a timely manner. The newest version of the wearable firmware, XE7, is now ready to download on the Google Glass Developers page, right alongside the two older downloads. It's a beefy 346MB package, delivered in the usual ZIP format.
XE7 adds a ton of new features for Glass testers and developers, including more varied "ok glass" commands and contextual actions, improvements to search functionality, an updated home screen, and better contact management and sharing.
If you can afford a Tesla electric car (in addition to the car you drive when you have to go more than three hundred miles), odds are pretty good that you can afford a Google Glass Explorer unit, too. If you happen to have both, in addition to the envy of every working class geek on the Internet, a developer has just enabled you to combine your favorite technological excesses. GLASSTESLA mixes the functions of the official Tesla app with the always-on, ever-ready nature of Glass to make you and your car into an ultra-efficient crime-fighting duo.
Google's elite team of Glass Explorer Program testers are getting an update today to XE7. The full changelog has been posted this time as well. Previous updates were only broken down in the private Explorer community. There are some substantial improvements this time, including a way to stream YouTube to Glass.
We've barely had the glossy white version of the Nexus 4 for a month, and now the 8GB model with its matching bumper seems to be gone. The US Play Store was just updated with the message, "Nexus 4 with Bumper (White, 8GB) is no longer available for sale." This isn't like the usual out of stock issue - the product listing looks like it's been retired. The more expensive 16GB white version (with bumper) remains available for purchase, along with both black versions.
Google has crept on all of us over the course of developing Google Maps into the ubiquitous product that it has become, and now the company is enabling us to start creeping on each other as well.* Today Google has kicked off a pilot program opening up use of the Street View Trekker to third parties. If you're a member of a tourist board, non-profit, university, research organization, or something otherwise interesting, you can apply to borrow the Trekker and help capture images of the hard-to-reach places Google has yet to access.