A few days ago, the Google Maps team announced a host of changes to its app, starting with a new Commute tab that groups driving and transit directions together, as well as a new media player integration while navigating. The changes have begun showing up now via a server-side update. We've spotted both features on Google Maps 9.88 beta, though it's possible you might see them on older versions of the app too.
Considering how popular the various high-profile music services have become on Android, it's a little strange that none of them have offered something like NextSong built in. It's strange, that is, until you remember how slow most of them are to conform to new Android functions like heads up notifications. In any case, music fans should definitely check out this handy app from independent developer Reactiv Sudios, whom we've featured before on Android Police.
NextSong places a heads up notification on your screen for every new track, giving you info on what's playing without forcing you to lower the notification shade or dig into the Recents menu.
Sometimes you've just got to sit back and marvel at the ingenuity of some Android developers. While Motorola was busy putting expensive infrared sensors all over the front of the new Moto X to enable a few gesture controls, developer OnTheGo Platforms was adding it in with something that just about every smartphone already has. Behold, BrainWave, an app that lets you play, pause, and navigate your music like a frickin' Jedi.
Once you've got the app set up, BrainWave "looks" through your phone's front-facing camera for a series of commands delivered via your right hand. Place your hand palm-down about a foot over your phone to pause or resume.
The content of Google Now tends to focus heavily on your current or future location, and as a close second, it tries to be helpful with reminders about TV shows and events. What it hasn't really done is hook into the events generated by your friends.
If you're a regular user of the iHeartRadio service, there's a big update waiting for you in the Play Store. The most useful addition in the new version of the Android app is undoubtedly the expanded control options: you can now pause, play, or advance your streaming music on the lockscreen or the new notification. The notification is even expandable - are you watching this, Pandora?
The user interface gets a fancy new slide-out menu, accessible from the main player and home screens. Six favorite stations can be selected (toggle them by tapping the "+" icon in the upper-right corner).