Google started rolling out a massive improvement to voice search in the Google Search app last week by enabling "Ok Google" hotword detection everywhere. Really cool, but it has been slowly making its way to users on a per-account basis. Tired of waiting? Just a few taps, and you can (maybe) get instant access to the feature. Note: Probably US English only.
Google Now does a lot of neat things, but the way Google plugs in its wealth of data makes sure the functionality changes often and in unexpected ways. Case in point, it helps you set reminders for some oddly specific events. Need to cancel an auto-renewing membership? Try asking Google Now.
Group chats can get confusing, especially if you've got a bunch of big talkers in the thread. If you need to get someone's attention in Hangouts, there's a handy little trick for doing it. Just long-press on the user's avatar and you get an @name reply.
In addition to things like stock Android and being carrier-unlocked, one of the big features of Nexus and Google Play Edition devices that Android power users love is an easily unlockable bootloader. While OEMs and carriers often make a policy of locking their devices' bootloaders to prevent installation of unauthorized software, Google makes it very easy for us to tinker with devices bearing its brand. All you really need to unlock a Google device is a tool called "fastboot," which is made available through the Android SDK. Read More
If you told me that you'd never heard of Foursquare, I'd call you a liar. We've all see the cross-posts from Foursquare on Twitter and Facebook. I'd find it hard to believe that you had gone your entire life without seeing Foursquare notifications, but if you told me you didn't know what Foursquare was for, that I could believe. Foursquare, at its heart, is a fairly straightforward location-based game. Read More
Doing searches from the Google Search app can be strangely slow on many devices, but the cause isn't obvious. The community might have figured it out, though. If you're sick of watching the Google Search app chug along on Android, this might fix you right up.
The cause is alleged to be the Search Applications Provider in Android, which returns a list of installed apps on the device to build suggestions. Read More
Google may've said during Wednesday's keynote that it planned to roll out Hangouts to Gmail users gradually, but if you just can't wait to integrate the new messaging service into your e-mail dashboard, there's a way to gain early access. Simply log into Gmail, ensure you've signed into Google Talk (if you're having trouble enabling Talk, try installing the browser plugin), click on the thumbnail associated with your account in the Talk sidebar, and select the "Try the new Hangouts" option. Read More
Between Hangouts, the gorgeous new Maps, Play Music All Access, and everything else discussed in I/O's opening keynote this morning, several revisions to the Play Store developer's console were announced.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the console will be an organized method for alpha and beta testing, and staged rollouts. Basically, developers can select alpha and beta testers, receiving all feedback directly (instead of through reviews) and, when the time comes, roll out the app to certain percentages of the user base. Read More
Facebook has been making numerous changes to its Android apps as of late, thanks to the arrival of Facebook Home. Sometimes, new features also bring "hidden" options – things that may not be quite ready for prime time but can be accessed within the app. Facebook Messenger has one such "feature" tucked away in its emoticon menu: stickers. Big ol' images with goofy faces and cats and other stuff. I'm not entirely sure why this is a thing that anyone wants, but it's there, and you can use these oversized emoticons now. Read More