Google has developed an annoying habit of tucking changes away inside apps only to randomly deploy them at a later date without warning. There's usually no way to force these changes on, and it can be tough to figure out what just changed to make your phone work differently. If you have noticed some changes to Gboard lately, you have a Google server-side switch to thank.
The holidays (and CES) are over and the many of Google's app teams are back in the full swing of releasing updates. Gboard's latest version hit this morning few directly visible changes outside of minor wording and color changes. However, there are some interesting things that can be gleaned from wandering through a teardown of the apk.
As of this week, after a long rollout, Android Messages' new web interface is finally available to everybody. Even better, it includes an Easter egg from Hangouts: emoticon shortcuts. You can send your friends shruggies, table flips, and even Finn and Jake from "Adventure Time," all with simple text commands. Algebraic!
In a world full of ways to express oneself, sticker packs and emoticons remain some of my favorites. Being a user of Telegram, I often take advantage of the stickers there (my favorite is the Geralt of Rivia/Witcher pack). SwiftKey is continuing to add new features via its Toolbar. Now users can look for two new items: a set of emoticons from Skype and a Halo sticker pack.
Do you find yourself thinking Google Hangouts would be perfect if it only had a few more secret shortcodes to make emoticon art? No, I didn't think so. I guess that means today's update to Hangouts probably won't convince anybody that it has hit the pinnacle of excellence; but it will give us five more easter egg phrases, if that helps.
Emoticons are nothing new for Skype or any other instant messaging client. Why, then, are they worth mentioning in version 5.3's changelog? Because now they're big. If you send a message containing only an emoticon, Skype will display a large version, complete with animation. Expressions appended to the end of a sentence, on the other hand, will continue to show up tiny.
While you're checking out these screenshots, also note the app's bubble style chat layout, which has now made its way over from other platforms to Android.
A few other changes have made it into this release. Conversations will no longer jump to the most recent message as it comes in, allowing you to more easily scroll up to read ongoing conversations.
If you've seen a couple of your friends flood their social feeds with single-panel comic strips starring people they know, chances are they didn't all suddenly learn how to draw at once. More than likely, they've all developed an affection for Bitstrips, a means for people to easily create avatars and inject them into comical situations.
There's an Android app out that lets you have fun from a mobile device, but if you really want to inject these characters into your daily life, you're going to want Bitmoji, the company's latest release.
As the name implies, Bitmoji takes your avatar and uses it to create a large number of emoji that you can then paste into your chats or other apps.
Yesterday we reported on the appearance of several redesigned emoji in the keyboard Google's rolling out with Android 5.0. In the piece, I concentrated on the improved consistency brought in by the tweaks. As it turns out, there was one more change hidden in plain sight among the others, and its importance shadows all others. Google has quietly addressed a bug report that has lingered for years.
Let's take a look at the issue at hand here. These are two of the images included in yesterday's post. On the left, we have the old set of emoji. On the right, we have the new ones included with Lollipop's version of Google Keyboard.
In Android 5.0, the default keyboard looks substantially different from how it has looked largely since the days of Ice Cream Sandwich. The new out-of-the-box method of typing comes with a flatter theme that supplies a stark new feel. At the end of the day, though, it's still used primary to punch in letters onto the screen, and there's nothing particularly exciting to share there. One change we would like to highlight though is the addition of new emoji.
Google hasn't completely redone the full collection of smiley faces and other icons, but it has taken this time to alter some of its previous work.
Google does its part to celebrate the major US holidays, not to mention quite a few others, but April Fools' Day appears to be its favorite. The company goes all out every year, and it's already looking like 2014 may just be its very best effort yet. In addition to scattering Pokemon all over Maps, Google is now dispersing emoji all throughout Chrome.
The feature is optional, but once enabled, Chrome will replace certain words with emoji. Take, for example, the phrase "Google Play Gift Cards." Instead of just showing the text, Chrome will display the word "Google," a picture of a game controller for "Play," a present for "Gift," and a credit card for "Card." Once the initial shock and confusion wears off, it's kind of cute.