One of the worst things about fitness tracking apps is that they often require users to tell them when an activity starts. This can be a pretty big inconvenience, especially for people that keep their phones stowed in closed pockets or an arm band without easy access to the screen. The latest update to Fit might save many people from having to reach for their phone at all. Wear users can now start and stop activity trackers directly from the mini-app.
The main phone app doesn't seem to have any notable changes, so this update is all about Wear. Read More
Yesterday, I was starting work on some sketches for Android TV. When it was time to move into Sketch (my current mockup tool of choice, mostly because of its Zeplin integration), I realized I hadn't really seen any good ready-made sheets, frames, or stickers for Android TV UI. So I decided to just go ahead and build a few screens, and then maybe - if they came out decent - upload them for other designers who might want to do a quick TV mockup or two.
The Sketch file you'll find below has 7 artboards, covering the Android TV home page, a basic leanback UI, a video player, a list, settings, and keyboard/text input. Read More
Google added Drawing Mode to Keep at the end of October and the couple of updates since then seem to focus on fixing bugs. The recent 501 update did make a small but useful addition: there is now an overflow menu in Drawing Mode with links to Delete and Send (i.e. share) your doodles to other apps. Read More
Android TV is getting some serious attention this week with updates to just about all of the Google apps, including a few that most of us never hear about. An update to YouTube's set-top variant just came out with a few subtle changes. The latest release fills out the interface a bit to make channel subscriptions slightly easier. There are also some new shortcuts and reorganization for Settings, including a toggle to enable Stats for Nerds mode. And YouTube Red subscribers will finally see a visual change when their subscription status is recognized.
Home screen – Left: old version. Right: new version. Read More
Out with the old and in with the new. That's just about the best way to describe the latest update to the Google app for Android TV. Version 2.0 doesn't seem to bring much in the way of features, but what it lacks in functional changes is more than made up for with visuals. Basically everything having to do with a search interface looks at least a little different, if not completely. If you're eager to try it out for yourself, there's an APK Mirror link at the bottom. Otherwise, take a gander at a few screenshots below.
New microphone – Left: old version, Right: new version. Read More
Google Play Books has a new feature called "night light" that should make tearing through text in the app in the evenings a bit less stressful on your ocular organs. The toggle, found in the same part of the UI as all the other in-text visual adjustments, works by slowly removing the amount of blue light on the screen the later in the day it is. The visual effect is to give the background an amber color which is supposedly less likely to cause visual strain in low ambient light.
Google says the feature is rolling out now, but if you don't have the latest Play Books update available to you, you're in luck: we do! Read More
Google faces many interesting challenges with Android Auto. It seems like a simple task to build an interface that is less messy and more enjoyable than existing in-car systems. Given the low bar set by most existing platforms, this doesn't sound very difficult. However, Google is taking advantage of more advanced technology and clever design so Auto isn't just another small iterative step forward. A teardown of the latest update shows some interesting progress on new input methods that don't require as much attention and a parking assistant feature that remembers where you left your vehicle.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (application packages) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information.
Google Play's branded Music app has had Pandora-style thumbs up and thumbs down controls, applicable to your local and cloud music as well as streaming radio stations, for quite a while. But they're not all that easy to get to: aside from the "now playing" screen and the homescreen widget, the functionality isn't all that obvious. The latest update to the app puts those recommendation tools front and center, right on the notification and lockscreen controls.
We're actually looking at two Google Play Music updates here: version 6.2.2220U.2476962 and the slightly newer 6.2.2221U.2480853. Both of them are nearly identical with one notable exception. Read More
T-Mobile customers may or may not be using the company's official Android app, which allows users to view remaining minutes and data, pay bills, and manage their accounts - since the company has been attracting so many "bring your own device" customers lately, they might not even be aware of it. But the My Account app is due for a substantial update very soon, at least if a newly-leaked APK file is anything to go by. After an employee tipped the new app for a December 10th launch (which obviously didn't happen), posters at the T-Mobile Reddit page have been dissecting a leaked version; that's where the screenshots below came from. Read More