The merger of OxygenOS and ColorOS, as part of OnePlus becoming essentially a subbrand of Oppo, has been coming for some time, and the merged OS should begin arriving for all supported smartphones with the upcoming Android 12 release. If you're currently enrolled in the OnePlus Developer Preview program on your 9 or 9 Pro, you can get an early look with a new release now arriving for your phone.
Google just released a new software remote for Android TV and Google TV devices. That's a fancy way of saying that you have a new way to use your phone to control your smart TV's Android-powered guts. Of course, Google's had a dedicated app with that functionality for a while, but it wasn't great. In fact, Google recently de-listed and ended support the old app. So, what's this new method like? In short: Pretty good for most people.
Just a week after Google released Chrome 94 to the stable channel, the company is back at it again with Chrome 95, which it has just promoted to beta. Since Google accelerated the release schedule to a four-week cycle, we'll see Chrome 95 go in mid-October already. The new strategy apparently also leads to fewer features being introduced with each version, but let's dive into the most important changes coming to us with Chrome 95.
Google Keep is one of the most useful apps in Google's ecosystem. I personally use it a lot, since the ability to take quick notes on your phone and accessing them from any device is really convenient. And now, it's getting even better, since it's joining the list of apps that will be using Material You. Ahead of the final release of Android 12, which is due soon, Google has worked on updates to most of its apps to make them adhere to Material You and its UI changes, as well as its headline dynamic theming feature, and Google Keep is joining this list.
Assistant is a key part of Google's app ecosystem. Since it was first introduced in 2016 with the first Google Pixel smartphones, Google has made it central to the Pixel experience and to Android in general. And being so important to Google, it was just logical for it to be one of the next apps to get its respective dose of Material You redesign. A redesign for the Google Assistant, complete with dynamic theming, is now rolling out.
Virtual meetings over Zoom have become all too popular over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they're potentially going to be a big part of life going forward. Already supporting virtual meetings with up to 100 people, Zoom gets constantly updated with new features. Now the Zoom app is getting another feature drop with a handful of quality-of-life improvements that aim to make it a little more enjoyable to use.
When you think of messaging apps, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and any of Google's 47 attempts likely come to mind. As mainstream as those services might be, they aren't the only options you'll find for texting your friends and loved ones. Viber isn't as recognizable a name, but it's been quietly popular for years now. Today, it passed the one billion installs milestone, marking its place among other ultra-successful apps like Google Messages and Snapchat.
LineageOS not only helps older and lower-end phones get a taste of the latest Android, but it also provides even more capable devices with an alternative firmware option. In the case of phones that arrive with their own skins, like models from Samsung and Xiaomi, LineageOS offers an opportunity to enjoy some stock-looking Android. If you just bought an all-new Pixel 5a and want to install LineageOS on it, now you can do so, as builds are becoming available.
Mobile payments are the way of the future (or so I've been told), and it seems Google's well aware of that. The company has spent the last year completely renovating its Pay app to be far more advanced than anything that's come before. Spending habits, sending and requesting money from friends, and rewards programs are all part of the relaunched effort, and with its latest installs milestone, it seems to be paying off for Google (no pun intended).
YouTube is a bit of a weird outlier when it comes to Android app design. While there are some interface inconsistencies among all Google apps, YouTube has long stood out as the app with a much shorter app header, a dated gray status bar, and more diversions from the norm. While its header retains its height for now, YouTube has at least finally added a seamless white status bar to its light theme.