Google has really been on a roll this week with exciting news for developers, such as a pair of new game-related libraries and enhancements to Google+ Sign-in. This time around, Chromecast is getting its turn with a brand new User Experience Guide. Coming just 2 days after some new apps were added to the whitelist, this 4000-word document details the recommended design patterns developers should follow while implementing their own Android, iOS, and web applications.
Last night, Google started a slow rollout of the new Maps with version 7.5. Since the previous version was 7.4, we knew there had to be some key features that prompted the update - it couldn't just be a bug fixer. After thoroughly examining the UI, I was unable to find anything new.
As it turns out, that's because the new feature Google stuffed into the app only shows up upon very specific conditions.
Today, in a post on the Android Developers Blog, Google announced two new tools that might be of interest to quite a few of the game developers out there. Among the releases is a new open-source 2D physics library called LiquidFun and a Unity plugin for adding Google Play Games support. These releases coincide with the news of additional game categories coming to the Play Store in February, which we covered earlier today.
The most obvious new addition to Gmail 4.7 is the Vacation Responder. You can set start and end dates, enter a subject and some text, and check a toggle to only send the vacation response to your contacts.
Google Play Books update 3.1.17 is slowly rolling out, and I'm glad to report that it finally brings a feature a lot of you have been dying to see - book uploading directly from your devices. As always, we have the APK which you can install if you don't see the update just yet right below.
As I already mentioned, you no longer need to go to Google's website to upload your own books - 3.1.17 allows you to upload PDFs and EPUBs directly.
About a week ago, Google announced a new Chromecast update that would bring about some bug fixes and a "refreshed home screen." It wasn't made clear at the time exactly what that meant, but the update appears to be rolling out in full force now, so we've finally gotten a glimpse at this refresh, and it looks a lot better. Instead of just a stock image with huge "ready to cast" text and Chromecast's details, the new, minimal home screen cycles through beautiful images with the Chromecast's name in the bottom left and time in the bottom right.
The Chromecast launched last summer with a lot of promise, but very limited app support. We've been limping along these last few months with only the occasional addition like Pandora and HBO Go to keep us going. Well, now the floodgates are beginning to open. Google just announced 10 new apps are launching with Chromecast support, and some of them are super-exciting.
You don't have to spend much time on the Play Store to see that games are a big part of the service and the platform. Google has already done a lot to highlight gaming with Play Store categories and landing page promotions, but starting in February, developers and end users will have roughly three times as many categories to browse through. The new game categories are as follows:
- Role Playing
That's seventeen categories, up from the previous six (Arcade & Action, Brain & Puzzle, Cards & Casino, Casual, Racing, and Sports Games).
To wrap up the year, TIME's been working on a "Top Ten of Everything 2013" series, listing off the top ten items in various categories from Pop Culture and Social Media to, of course, tech gadgets. In that category, TIME listed things like the LEAP Motion controller, Oculus Rift Developer's Kit, and new iPads, but they awarded the top spot to Google's plucky Chromecast dongle.
The piece, published Tuesday and shared by Larry Page on Google+ this evening, lauds the Chromecast's focus - it essentially only does one thing but does it so well, makes it so easy, and costs so little, that picking one up is really hard to resist.