Google is certainly no stranger to testing new features slowly. Most recently, it released an update to YouTube's UI that's been in testing for at least four months. And for Google, this is a good thing. Testing new features with limited samples of users helps get data not only on their usefulness, but also on how they augment user experience and engagement.
That brings us to the Play Store, an app where nothing is more important than engagement. Google appears to be testing a new feature called "Related Interests," which lists off various categories with round chips similar to the chips used for artists on Google Play Music's web interface. Read More
The share button inside YouTube is unlike the icon used in virtually every other Android app. Rather than the usual set of three connected dots, we see a horizontally flipped version of the reply symbol in Gmail. Well, Google isn't yet changing the iconography, but it does seem to be testing out a new location.
In addition to the share button's usual home at the top-right corner of a video, we're also seeing it next to the like and dislike buttons.
If you're not seeing the new layout, try closing the YouTube app and opening it again. That works for some users. Read More
When it comes to getting users to your app, your Play Store listing counts for a lot. What users see (and read) when they reach your app's listing can make or break their decision to download or buy, so carefully crafting a good listing is important.
To that end, Google has announced that it will open up what amounts to A/B testing for Play Store listings, meaning developers can play with their listings by testing different screenshots, graphics, etc. to see what performs better and end up with the best possible listing.
To facilitate this, Google will add "Listing Experiments" to the Play Store developer console. Read More
Google is no stranger to testing new features or design tweaks on its live products, and search has been receiving quite a bit of attention lately. It doesn't necessarily come as a surprise, then, to see new design tweaks appearing for some users in Google's image search results.
The new design, which so far appears to be in very limited testing, offers a brighter layout for individual images - the background is a light #eeeeee as opposed to the solid black seen in its current iteration, and there's a relocated "close" button along with a new way to show image details.
In the current layout (as you'll see below), details are behind an overflow button. Read More
Google has been testing lots of tweaks for its mobile search engine results page lately. We've seen colored underlines on results cards and a rather pleasing new layout for the search bar and associated tools, and now a few users are reporting something a little strange - colored dots. We've received multiple reports of search result cards with four dots (colored with Google's signature blue, green, yellow, and red) in the lower right corner.
The colored dots, if you're wondering, didn't seem to do anything when tapped for our original tipsters, but reader Ali notes below that the dots do seem to work just like tapping on the card's URL. Read More
According to a tipster (and a report over at DroidLife), Google is testing a new feature for Google+ that could be big news for the platform. For now, it's called "Collections," and it's being tested for an unspecified release target.
The basic idea behind Collections is curated content sets - like Pinterest boards or Dribbble buckets, users could curate pieces of content into their collection, with others viewing, sharing, and following those collections as they please.
Here's a look at a collection (note that Derek Ross is not our source - the tipster simply sent a screenshot of a collection including posts by Ross.)
We also got a look at what posts from a collection look like on mobile - they're designated with a subheader containing the name of the collection. Read More
Republic Wireless, the Sprint MVNO that burdens as much cellular load as it can onto Wi-Fi networks and seamlessly switches between the two, is changing the way it handles plans. Starting later this year, the company will charge you based on how much you use rather than the speed of your data connection. It will also offer refunds if you don't use up all the data you pay for each month. The carrier is calling this project Maestro.
Republic Wireless currently charges 5$ for Wi-Fi only plans, $10 for Wi-Fi and talk/text, $25 for 3G, and $40 for LTE. This approach places the emphasis on network-type-used, rather than the amount consumed. Read More
YouTube isn't the only Google web property getting some A/B testing right now. Apparently Maps is under the microscope as well, with Google testing a new nav drawer menu and refreshed biking and traffic elements.
The nav drawer icon, as you might expect, is embedded in the search bar, a pattern introduced with the new nav drawer icon and material design.
There's also a "road sign" navigation icon embedded in the same bar.
As mentioned, biking and traffic legends have been refreshed in the new design, too. The information panels have been broken out of the search interface, centered at the bottom of the UI. Read More