Opinion: Google, Please Update Your Release Notes on App Updates

Yesterday, Google Calendar had a nice update drop in the Play Store.  The problem is, if you only read the release notes, you would have had no idea that a great new feature in the app.  That feature, the ability to drag & drop appointments to new days and times, was not mentioned in the release notes.  At all.  In fact, the release notes are from some four months ago.

The problem is that users of apps on Android need those release notes to know what they are getting in the update.  Be it a new feature or even a little bit of detail around what was fixed if it is a maintenance release would go along way.  Instead, users are dependent on sites like ClintonFitch.com and others to dive into the updates as soon as they drop or do APK tear downs to find out what’s new.  Believe me, I appreciate you coming and finding out what is new in a release but really, should it be such a guessing game?  No, I don’t think so.

Google Calendar Update Brings Event Drag & Drop to Android

While overall a minor update, the latest build of Google Calendar for Android brings a long desired feature by users:  Drag & Drop moving of events.  The new feature is in version 5.7.29 and that update is now rolling out into the Play Store.  Expect the update to hit your phones and tablets over the course of the next few days.

With this new feature, when you are in any view except monthly, you can now tap & hold then move an event on your calendar to a new time or day.  No more having to go into the event and manually edit the times or day.  Once you have moved it, anyone who is associated with that event will automatically get an update emailed to them of the day and/or time change.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Variants on T-Mobile Seeing The July Android Security Update

Good news this morning for those of you who have a Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge on T-Mobile.  The carrier is now rolling out the July Android Security Update to these devices and it should be hitting yours sometime this week.  The updates are small, just over 50MB for each of the devices, and mostly focus on brining the July 2017 update to the devices.  There are a few minor fixes and improvements too but the security patch is the big news.

For those with a Galaxy S6, you are looking for version G920TUVS5FQG1 while the S6 Edge will be getting version G925TUVS5FQG1.  Both of these devices received the Android Nougat 7.0 update from the carrier last month.

Google Express Update Brings Offline Shopping List Support

The shopping app Google Express has been updated for Android today, bringing the ability to edit and access your shopping lists while you are offline.  For those who may not know, Google Express is a shopping app that allows you to shop over 30 stores like Costco, Whole Foods and Target and have those purchased items delivered to your home.  The service has next day delivery in most areas and is free shipping for those who have a membership.  That membership is $10 per month but is not required to use the app – you’ll just pay shipping.

The updated version of the app is 18.0 and once you have it, you will be able to access your shopping lists and edit them while you are offline.  Think of that thing you need to buy while on a flight?  No problem.  Open the app update, add it, and it will sync up with the service once you are back online.

Google Allo Can Now Uplift to Google Duo With A Tap

Google’s consumer messaging app, Google Allo, has another update rolling out that brings the ability to uplift your chat conversation to a video call with a single tap.  The update, version 14.0.037 for those keeping score, now has a button in the upper-right corner in the messaging screen that to launch Google Duo.  So if text-based messaging isn’t getting the conversation done, you can now place a Duo video call without having to launch it separately.  The new feature is aimed to bring the two apps more closely together but also to make communication more frictionless.

For those new to Android, Google Allo is Google’s text-based messaging app while Google Duo is their video calling app.  Both are focused on the consumer market while Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Video, the completely revamped versions of what is now known as Hangouts Classic, is for the enterprise space.

Samsung Bixby Finally Rolling Out To Galaxy S8 Owners

After a delay of 3 months, Samsung Bixby is finally rolling out to the Galaxy S8 here in the United States and in South Korea.  The update to bring Bixby to the S8 devices and brings along all of the normal features of a personal assistant along with a few Samsung features too.

Bixby was heavily touted in the lead up to the launch of the Galaxy S8 but expectations fell well short when the device shipped without the assistant.  Indeed, the dedicated hardware button on the S8 phones for Bixby couldn’t even be remapped initially although some developers found ways around it – which Samsung kept knocking down.  Without remapping, you pretty much had a useless button on your phone until now.

Google Phone App Update Brings Emergency & Call Waiting Improvements

The Google Phone app has a nice update rolling out this morning that brings some new features.  The update is build 10.1.161735957 for those keeping score at home and who like to play Google version bingo and it is rolling out to the Play Store now.

The big new feature in this update to the Phone app is emergency location information.  If you call 911 here in the US, you will be shown in the app (via Google maps) where you are calling from so that emergency services can find you faster.  It helps you see where you are faster which means help can get to you faster.

Google Improves AI-Laden Feed in Google App for Android

If you use the Pixel launcher or the Google app on your Android phone, you will have noted a few changes recently to the feed in apps.  The feed, which rolled out with the Google Now launcher, has slowly been improved to provide you more accurate or interesting information to you based on your habits.  Today, Google has pushed the big red button and with a server-side update, everyone’s feed is now showing these improvements.

Inside the Google app, you will see a much improved lists of articles and topics that are potentially of interest to you.  They did this by heavily leaning on Artificial Intelligence to bubble up things that you may find of interest based on other articles you have read or other interactions with Google along with local information on events happening around you.

IDC Pegs Android Market Share at 85% Globally for Q1 2017

Analyst firm IDC has released their Smartphone OS Market Share report for the first quarter of 2017 and its all looking good for Android.  The report looks at smartphone unit shipments to base the figures and Android for the quarter was on 85% of all units shipped.  That’s up from the 81.4% of the previous quarter (Q4 2016) but still 2.6% below the high water mark of 87.6% in Q2 2016.

The gains for Android came at the expense of Apple’s iOS.  Unit shipments for iPhones dropped to 14.7%, down some 3.5% from Q4 2016, which happened to be the height of its shipments at 18.2%.  The only other mobile platform that was mentioned was Windows Phone in the report.  That all-but dead platform now accounts for .1% of smartphone units sold.

Arrow Launcher Update Brings Contact Management Improvements

Microsoft has a new update rolling out to Arrow Launcher in the Play Store that is bring some nice improvements to the launcher.  The update is version 3.7 for those keeping score at home and this build has been in beta for a few weeks with testers.  The update has some good improvements around contact management (or as Microsoft calls it, People) as well as some other fixes.

The People card on the Utility page in this update will now allow you to choose between multiple actions for contacts and Arrow can now deal with merging and de-duping of contacts within the contacts on your phone.  The multi-action feature is a long requested one of the launcher.

Chrome OS Stable Channel Sees Minor Updates

An update for Chrome OS is currently rolling out to the stable channel.  The update is build 59.0.3071.134 (Platform versions: 9460.73.0, 9460.73.1) for those keeping score at home and should be hitting devices over the course of the next few days.  Unlike similar releases over the course of the past few months, Google did not indicate any specific devices this update would not be coming to this week.  Rather, they simply indicate “most devices” will see the update.

To check to see if the update is coming to your Chrome device, go to chrome://help in the browser on your Chromebook or Chromebox and check for the update.  If it is available to your device, it will start downloading and after a restart, will be installed.

Google Home Coming to Australia and Germany

The slow but steady global availability of Google Home continues with the Google Assistant powered smart speaker coming to Australia and Germany.  For Aussies, Home as well as Google WiFi will be available on July 20th while Germans will have to wait until next month before Home comes to your country.  The expansion follows it coming to France and Canada earlier this year.

In Australia, Home will be available from the Google Store, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Officeworks, The Good Guys, Telstra, Optus and Qantas Store.  It will be $199 AUD, about $157US.  Google WiFi will be $199 for a single unit while the 3-pack will be $499.  For those in Germany, Home will be €149.