From time to time, Google engages in A/B testing with its live products. Flipping switches from somewhere deep in its Mountain View HQ, Google will turn on new design tweaks or feature changes for small groups of users, and measure their impact on engagement. This is generally a helpful process for validating design decisions, and occasionally we catch them in the act and get a peek at what might be around the corner.
Today, reports started popping up that Google might be testing some UI tweaks with its Google+ app for Android. Before you get excited, these tweaks don't include a hamburger menu. Read More
Twitter can be an intimidating place for newcomers. The site's timeline is only as good as the content that appears inside it, and until you start following profiles, it's pretty spartan. But the social network knows it has a problem, and it's trying to do something about it.
Twitter already makes recommendations during the setup process that points us towards friends along with popular sources of news and entertainment. Now, according to a report by The New York Times, the site is testing out a new "Instant Timeline" feature that automatically populates a new user's feed until they've figured out how to fill it up themselves. Read More
A number of our readers have witnessed a change after opening up the Facebook app. The social network is apparently testing out an updated version of the user interface that sports a flatter look and more colorful, circular icons. We wouldn't call it a big Material redesign, but it does show signs of trying to better fit in. Read More
Microsoft has acquired HockeyApp, a service that helps developers test their apps and get feedback from users. The company plans to use the platform, akin to Apple's TestFlight (purchased early this year), to attract app creators to its development tools. The folks at Redmond intend to integrate HockeyApp with the Application Insights service in Visual Studio Online to improve support for Android and iOS.
HockeyApp offers developers integrated crash reporting, information on beta distribution, and a built-in user feedback system. It supports Windows Phone in addition to Apple and Google's mobile operating systems.
Developers can continue to use HockeyApp in its current form, but Microsoft is starting the integration right away, and it plans to release an updated Application Insights SDK for Android and iOS within the coming months. Read More
Getting OTA updates out the door is no easy task, especially with carriers standing between the OEM and users. That's why Motorola has long used soak tests with small groups of users to hammer out bugs before the final certification. HTC has just posted details of its own "HTC Preview" program that does essentially the same thing.
People talk on Twitter, they crack jokes, they share pictures, and they even try to sell things. Just as users used to have to link out to images before the service started offering that service natively, users will soon be able to make purchases without having to hop out to another site. Twitter is currently testing a feature that will embed a buy button directly into tweets.
When a user decides they want to buy something, Twitter will prompt them for their shipping and payment information. After that, it will send the order to the merchant, encrypt the data, and store it for use again later. Read More
Starbucks is looking to provide customers with the option to order their beverage in-app, saving them the effort of waiting in line to get in and get out with something to drink. Re/code reports that the company will start testing the feature in an undisclosed market later this year.
The concept of placing an order using a mobile app in order to skip the wait later on is not groundbreaking. After all, Chipotle expanded this feature to all of its locations late last year. But a ton of people use Starbucks' mobile app to pay for their orders. In fact, the company stated 14 percent of its purchases made in the US are paid in this manner. Read More
Several weeks ago, we caught wind of Android 4.4.3 and some of the changes it could bring, consisting mostly of bug fixes, both big and small. At this point, according to several sources familiar with the matter, Android 4.4.3 has entered internal testing outside of the core Android team - a process otherwise known as dogfooding. The final release isn't expected to hit public devices for a number of weeks, so those of you expecting it any day now will have to wait just a bit longer.
: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether.
Intel's progress into the Android ecosystem hasn't exactly been earth-shattering. The number of high-end and mid-range smartphones equipped with an ATOM CPU still number in the single digits, making the x86 architecture a fairly low priority for app developers. In addition, Intel's emulator images have always lacked support for the Google APIs, leaving developers without the ability to test common staples like Google Maps or push messaging. Fortunately, that issue was recently rectified with KitKat as Google and Intel have finally shipped an x86 system image with Google API support.
Ok, so testing Android apps with Google-specific features on an ATOM emulator probably doesn't sound terribly exciting, but there's a major upshot: developers can finally use HAXM without making sacrifices! Read More