It has been about a month since Chrome 85 appeared in the Beta Channel, and now Google is starting to roll it out to the stable branch. There aren't many easily-visible changes, but as the old Transformers theme says, there's more than meets the eye.
Google's smart speakers and displays are brimming with features, some of which unknown. Many of you likely never noticed that they can ask their smart displays to star, share, or hide a pic when it comes up, but that feature has been available for a year. Google is now making it more visible by bringing the icons to the screen.
Google is tweaking the way the sharing dialog in its G Suite services will look. The change, which affects things like Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, has a more "task-focused" interface, separating link-based sharing from targeted contact sharing. In short, it should be a bit easier to use, shows more information at a glance — like who you've shared something with and what their permissions are — and generally offers a more friendly look. (It's also much prettier.)
One of the worst features in Android for a few years now has been the Sharesheet, the UI that pops up when you hit the share button in an app. In trying to offer you the most convenient and contextual sharing options every time it loads, the menu became incredibly slow and would infuriatingly update as you were about to make a selection. Google made some changes in Android 10 that have resulted in a better, faster sharing experience.
Sharing on Android is kind of a whole big mess — different apps handle sharing in different ways, and none of them are great. The YouTube Android recently got a new share menu to replace its old custom UI — and rather than adopting Google's standard sharing interface, it's implemented yet another custom one.
New functionality has cropped up in the beta version of the Google app. Users can now share search results, potentially saving time: instead of telling someone to Google something, you can just share a link that'll do it for them. It's sort of like LMGTFY, but slightly less passive-aggressive.
Android's share menu has been a bit messy for years, mostly thanks to the slow-loading app-specific targets that appear at the top of the list. In fact, many apps opt to create their own interfaces for sharing, so users don't have to deal with the janky native UI. In Android Q, the default share menu is receiving a facelift, just like Google promised last year.
We've been nothing if not critical of Android's slow and wildly inconsistent share interface, and Google has promised that fixing it is "a priority." In what is likely to be related, updated versions of the UI have started rolling out to a handful of apps in the last month, and the latest to see a taste of something new is Google Photos. Calm your excitement, though, as it's still in limited testing.
Slowly but surely, Chrome is trying to converge native and web apps. Chrome 71 came out a few days ago on Android, but one new feature flew under the radar — web apps can now appear in the system share menu.
Google Photos is magic (and my personal favorite service/product to come out of the company), but one thing that can be a little bit tedious is sharing content in it with others. A small step to ease that process seems to be rolling out, though, as a new "Share as album" button has appeared for some in the Google Photos Android app when browsing the People and Pets albums. Inundating your coworkers with pictures of your cat will never be easier.