Earlier this month, an update to the Chromecast built-in app on Android TV finally brought with it speaker grouping, but it was removed soon after. It turns out this update introduced another feature that went unnoticed until 9to5Google spotted it: Chromecast audio streams no longer need to remain in the foreground to keep playing, they now support background playback.
With the latest version of Google Duo, the video calling service is adding several features that were either officially announced or secretly unearthed, including a new family mode and some timely filters. The most interesting of these additions, however, is the option to make yourself reachable over email, and thus remove the need to share your phone numbers with others to allow them to call you.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular messenger platforms in the world, and when they launched WhatsApp Business back in 2018, it provided businesses a great way to connect with customers. And now things are getting a bit simpler for businesses on the service, as they'll be able to link their company's Facebook page to WhatsApp Business in order to sync info from it and run Facebook ads that click to WhatsApp.
A long-time darling of Android aficionados, Astro File Manager hasn't always had a look befitting its excellent functionality. That changed somewhat through the 7.x version updates, with certain parts of the interface getting refreshed here and there — bottom tabs had been introduced by v7.9, for example. Now version 8 is upon us, and the Astro team has delivered an even more dramatic overhaul. The home page has been completely restyled and the much-requested dark mode has also arrived.
Slowly but steadily, Google is turning its Messages app into a viable contender for the messenger market. As Google rolls out RCS to more and more countries, the app's chat features become more prominent, like photo attachments or stickers you'd usually have to send via MMS. As such, Google has decided to test an "attach recent picture" button in the latest beta version, but it's of questionable value at best.
The Google Authenticator app has undergone its first facelift since 2017, making the jump from version 5.0 to 5.10. But the visual makeover — including a much-needed adaptation to newer phones' aspect ratios — belies a major change that will make it easy for you to port your keys over to another phone.
OnePlus Gallery has received a small update that adds Google Lens integration. The app, which comes built in on all OnePlus devices, can now easily call up Lens to visually search an image and find elements and text in it.
YouTube Music has been steadily improving and spreading to more countries since its launch. Over the past couple of months, Google has been testing and slowly rolling out two new features in the app: a new player interface with lyrics and an Explore tab for better music discovery. Both of these are now live for most users (if not everyone) in the latest app update.
Pixel phones, or more specific, the Pixel Launcher, comes with a neat widget that gives you an overview of the weather, the current date, upcoming appointments, and commute estimates. Google even includes a basic version of this widget for everyone else, but it's not as capable as the Pixel Launcher solution — colors don't adjust to the background, and you can't change the size of the text. Another Widget changes that and adds a ton of features on top, and after 2.5 years without updates, the developer has finally pushed version 2 to the Play Store. It includes dearly needed bug fixes and new capabilities.
WhatsApp has supported group audio and video calls since 2018, but you have always been limited to calling three other people at one time. During times of stay-at-home orders and quarantines, that might not be enough to stay connected with all of your friends and family. An update to the WhatsApp beta channel improves that situation as it raises the limit to up to eight participants (including yourself) for the first few users, but it involves a server-side change, too.