Google Continues to Tweak G Suite App Menus for Clarity

Google Docs New Break Menu

Over the past few months, Google has been making minor tweaks to the menus in various G Suite apps online.  Most of these efforts, with the biggest change coming last month, have been aimed at making it easier to navigate these menus and to be clear about what exactly you are doing with that menu option.

Today another round of menu tweaks started rolling out to all G Suite customers that further adjusts menus in Google Docs and Google Slides.  In their announcement, Google laid out the before and after menu views to help users find the difference.

For Google Docs, to add a line or page break, here are the changes:

  • Before: Insert > Page break or Column break
  • After: Insert > Break > Page break or Column break

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Android Wear Update Brings Visual Improvements and Accessibility Improvements

Android Wear 2.8 Update

A new update to the Android Wear app is rolling out in the Play Store today, bringing some visual improvements as well as improvements for accessibility users.  The update to the app is version 2.7.0.180439970 which will then have build 2.8.0.181612071 to send to your Wear watch.  Once you get the new app update, you’ll need to also perform an update on your watch itself.  You should have a notification that there is a new update to the Android Wear app on the watch itself.

As for what is new, there are improved typefaces and fonts in this build.  The aim of these is to improve glanceability (i.e. readability) when you glance at your watch.  Also, the base theme for your watch’s menu will appear noticeably darker.  This is likely a part of the effort to improve glanceability.

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Mobile App Spending Topped $86 Billion Globally in 2017

Google Play Store

If there is one key take away from the 2017 annual report from App Annie, it is that the mobile app economy is very healthy.  The new report indicates that some $86 billion was spent in 2017 globally on apps.  That is a 105% increase in spending since 2015.  That spending growth came through the estimated 175 billion app downloads that happened in the year, a 60% increase itself since 2015.

China led the way in when it came to overall spending.  Consumers in that country increased their spending by 205% since 2015 and spend more time in apps than any other country.  China’s consumers also increased their downloading of apps by 125% since 2015.  Interestingly, India moved past the United States for the increase in app downloads to hold a distance second place position.

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PayPal Adds a QR Code Scanner for Sending & Receiving Funds

PayPal QR Scanner

An update to the PayPal app for Android is making its way into the Play Store today, bringing a new personal QR Code for receiving funds and a QR scanner to send them.  The update, version 6.20.1 for those keeping score at home, a new “Scan to Send Money” button on main home display.  Tapping it will bring up a built-in QR code scanner which has a second “Share” tab which will display your own QR code so you can receive funds from friends.

The introduction of QR Codes into PayPal is aimed to cut down on the time it takes when you are with friends or family to setup and transfer funds between each other.  No more having to request their linked email address to the service or even their PayPal.me link.

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Huawei to Integrate Android Messages into Upcoming Devices

Android Messages

Late yesterday, Google and Huawei both announced an agreement where by the Chinese manufacture will start integrating the RCS-powered Android Messages app into their upcoming devices.  The move means that Huawei will abandon their current messaging app in favor of Google’s for a richer user experience.

With Android Messages and RCS messaging, HUAWEI devices will offer a rich native messaging and communications experience. Features such as texting over WiFi, rich media sharing, group chats, and typing indicators will now be a default part of the device. Messages from businesses will also be upgraded on HUAWEI’s devices through RCS business messaging from Google.

Huawei also announced that they will be integrating with Google Duo for video calls directly from Messages via carrier’s ViLTE services.

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Native Video Recording in Chrome OS Coming to Supporting Chromebooks

Chrome OS Build 61 App Launcher

It looks like native video recording from your Chromebook’s webcam is finally coming to Chrome OS.  A new commit in the Chrome Review Gerrit points to support for video recording so long as the device is using the MediaRecorder APIs found in the platform.

We are implementing recording functionality in chrome camera app on ChromeOS devices with MediaRecorder APIs. Enabling HW VEA would greatly improve the performance. For example, FPS increases from 7 to 30 on kevin.

For reference, the device name Kevin is the Samsung Chromebook Pro.

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Google Appears to be Set to Block Hidden APIs in Android P

Android Droid Logo

While we are still a few months away from seeing a developer preview, work is steadily going happening on Android P.  There is one change however that could impact developers who are accessing hidden APIs in Android.  It looks like access to them is going to be blocked in P.

A new commit in the Android Release gerrit suggests that access to hidden APIs will be blocked, forcing developers to use the approved APIs in the release.

The following patch enforces the hidden API blacklist, preventing access to boot class path methods/fields marked by the `hiddenapi` tool using static linking, reflection and JNI.

This could require some developers to rework their apps if they want them to work on Android P.

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