Android OS update: Google Apps

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So Google managed to update several devices without issuing a point update, i.e. 4.3.
Here we’ll look at five Key apps they updated:
Maps, Play Music, Play Store,  Hangouts and Google Search (for JellyBean devices only).

The Play Store app was updated before the Google I/O conference. It brings some nice visual improvements and plenty of fresh features that help improve the core functionality of the shop.

The first change users will notice is a tweak to the look of the six navigation buttons on the top of the screen. The functionality of the buttons remains the same, but the boring boxes have been replaced by colourful ones, which gives the store much more life.

The update and uninstall buttons for apps have been adjusted too, with more space added between the two. Will help those who accidentally uninstall apps, which is a small, but welcome change.

Google Play has changed the way it handles downloading large files on mobile data, with users now receiving a warning beforehand to save them from inadvertently eating up their data allowance or incur in pricey overage fees. In addition, the Update All function now detects whenever an app update requires new permissions, and prompts users to allow any changes accordingly.

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Google Search received an update launched at the Google I/O keynote, and it includes a number of new cards for Google Now. You’ll now be able to set reminders, see upcoming releases for your favorite media types (books, music albums, movies, tv shows, and video games), and view real time public transit updates.

– Reminders (e.g. say “remind me to buy milk this evening”, “remind me to take out the trash when I get home”)
– Upcoming books, music albums, tv shows and video games you may like
– Real time public transit updates (select cities)

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New on the block is the Google+ Hangouts app, which is now available in the play store and replaces Google Talk on Android, and will also eventually make its way to iOS, making it the first time that a Google chat app will be released on iOS.

With Hangouts, Google essentially took all of their different chat clients and combined them into one. What they eventually ended up with is an app similar to WhatsApp that supports video chat and has a desktop app. With a couple of extra updates adding more features WhatsApp might have found its worthy challenger…not forgetting that Hangouts will come preinstalled in all future android devices.

Apparently with this app you can message a friend and have it delivered to them without them actually being signed in, making it a viable option for a text messaging replacement, rather than just another IM client of sorts.
The catch is that you must have signed up for Google+. Thumbs up to Google for gently forcing us to sign up for Google+, such efforts will definitely increase its subscriber/user base. Sign up is simple and painless.

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The update for Google Music which includes a new UI, their new All Access streaming service (not available in Africa), and Listen Now feature is live!

Here is the full changelog:
◾Brand new user interface for phone, tablet, and TV
◾New Listen Now page that makes it easy to find something to play
◾Swipe to remove from playlist or queue
◾Swipe to switch songs on the now playing screen or now playing bar
◾Go to album or artist from any song

Coming soon is an extensive Google Maps update. Word is this that Google Maps will be updated with a brand new layout, new search features and new ways to highlight the “things that matter most”.

What can be observed from the above apps is that Google is building towards a UI change expected in Keylime Pieand they are working hard at user friendliness of their native apps, for which I give them two thumbs up.

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