Instagram Lite Quietly Released to The Play Store

Instagram for Android

Instagram Lite, a much smaller version of the full Instagram app, has now landed in the Google Play Store.  The app, which only 573K in size, was quietly released into the store late yesterday and appears to be limited to testing in Mexico at the moment.  A broader roll out is expected, but it isn’t clear when that will happen.

The introduction of a lite version of Instagram goes with a current trend that is happening within app development which is to bring lighter weight apps that require less resources to mass of Android devices out in the market, especially in developing markets.

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Google+ Update for Android Brings Minor UI Changes

Google+ White Navigation

Google has released an update to the Google+ app for Android.  The new update, version 10.1.0.187555767 for those keeping score at home and who like to play version numbering BINGO! brings mostly minor cosmetic changes to the social and community network app.

The most noticeable change when you get the update will be the bottom navigation bar.  That bar had a dark theme to it in previous versions but now sports a light background.  Essentially it makes the UI of Google+ much more white.

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Twitter Adds Bookmark Feature to Save Tweets for Later

Bookmarks in Twitter

Twitter has begun rolling out a handy new feature to their mobile apps and site:  Bookmarks.  The bookmarks feature allows you to save a Tweet in your feed to read later or to share later.  There appears to be no expiration of the bookmarks either so you can, in theory, save them for as long as you want.

The new feature is rolling out as a cloud-side update to the Twitter apps for both Android and iOS and is also live on the mobile site, mobile.twitter.com.  It does not appear to be on the main Twitter site, at least not yet.

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Google+ Android Update To Bring A “Rewrite” of The App

Google+ for Android

Over the course of the next few days, a new version of Google+ will be rolling out to Android users.  While visually the app won’t look much different than it does today, Google’s Leo Deegan has taken to the community site to let everyone know what to expect.  Given he is the lead engineer of G+, he should know.

Though it very closely resembles the current app, this new version is the culmination of a complete rewrite of many core features using Google’s latest Android app infrastructure which will allow our Android team to build new features on a modern tech stack.

During the rewrite, we were able to build in some subtle updates. For instance, stream rendering and scrolling have been improved, the photo lightbox has been redesigned, comment options slide up from a bottom sheet, and grey-spammed comments are now viewable by post authors.

All of these changes point to a smoother experience overall with the community app.

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In Case You Missed It – Twitter Supports Notification Channels in Oreo

Notification Channels in Twitter

This one could have passed by you without you noticing because it seems to have passed a lot of people by it seems.  Twitter, sometime late last year, rolled out Notification Channel support for those running the social networking app on Android Oreo.  The problem is, they never announced it or put it in the release notes so it isn’t clear when the new feature came into the app.

Notification Channels, in case you don’t know or remember, allow you to set more granular toggles on the types of notifications you get from an app.  It is supported in Oreo but not every app has support for it yet.  Usually when a developer adds support, they advertise it.  Apparently not Twitter.

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Twitter Rolls Out Popular Articles Feature in Android App

Twitter Popular Articles

Following up on their iOS and web updates, Twitter has now begun rolling out a new Popular Articles feature in their Android app.  The update requires that you have the latest version of their app but this new feature is a cloud-side change that is rolling out to users.

The new Popular Articles feature is based on the interaction with articles from those that you follow on the service.  In other words, if a handful of those that you follow on Twitter like or retweet an article, it will show up in this new section.

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Google+ Update Brings Notification Channel Support for Oreo Users

Google+ for Android

The Google+ app for Android has an update rolling out in the Play Store that brings support for Android Oreo’s new Notification Channels feature.  The update is version 9.20 for those keeping score.  It was released yesterday and should come to everyone who has the app installed over the course of the next few days.

For those who aren’t familiar, Notification Channels are built into apps by developers as a way to allow you greater control over the notifications you see and how you are notified.  They bring granularity to notifications and not just a general “on or off” type functionality.  That’s an over simplification but you get the idea.

With this update to Google+, you have three channels now available:  App Status Updates, New Activity, and Content.  You can now customize the notifications for the app to different levels depending on how you set it up.  To setup the channels, go to Settings>Notifications then select the Google+ app.  There you will see your stock notification settings which you can tap to adjust.

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Twitter Announces Twitter Lite for Low Bandwidth Connections

Twitter Lite

In an effort to meet the need of subscribers with slow connections, Twitter has introduced a new web-based Twitter Lite solution.  Twitter Lite is aimed for those on unstable or unreliable networks as well as those on slow connections.  Indeed, based on a report from GSMA, 45% of smartphone connections are on 2G speeds or slower.  Using data compression and other techniques, the Lite version of Twitter can launch about 30% quicker.  It is also more resilient on slow speed connections.

The new Lite version is accessed by going to mobile.twitter.com from your mobile device.  Once there, you will see that it looks pretty much like your normal Twitter feed.  Now tap on your profile avatar to go into Settings.  About halfway down you will see a new Data Saving feature which you can enable.  This further reduces the load of Twitter to your phone’s browser, by up to 70%.

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