Google Acquires Songza to Make Google Music Better, Other Products Too

Google announced this afternoon – oddly at the same time that the USA’s World Cup match started – that they had acquired Songza, a music service that uses “contextual expert-curated playlists to give you the right music at the right time.”

The goal for the future is to find ways to bring Songza tech to Google Play Music, YouTube, and other Google Products. For now, Songza remains the same and is available on Google Play and iOS.

Fans of Songza? Tell me why you love it.  (more…)

Android L Features: New Quick Settings Panel is Mostly Improved

Our coverage of Android L features continues this afternoon with a look at the newly restyled Quick Settings Panel (QSP). For those not familiar, the Quick Settings Panel was previously accessed as a secondary pulldown from the notification shade that gave you quick shortcuts for toggling off things like WiFi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, or your data connection. It also gave you battery status, let you view your contact card, and jump into the full list of Android settings. In Android L, it still functions much of the same way, but you now access and interact with it somewhat differently. (more…)

Android L Features: Notification Manager Introduced in “Sound & Notifications”

In the past, if you didn’t want an app showing notifications on your Android device, you had to either long-press on a notification from the app, then head into the app’s specific info page, and disable notifications or take the longer route to unchecking its notifications powers through Settings>App manager. Either process wasn’t a bad one by any means, but Google appears to want to give you more specific notification control in Android L with the introduction of notification management through the Sound section in Settings which has been renamed “Sound & Notifications.”  (more…)

Android L Features: Heads-Up Notifications Will Eventually be Awesome

One of the more iOS-like features introduced by Google for Android L during last week’s I/O, were Heads-Up notifications. Think of them as floating notifications that appear at the top of the screen no matter what you are up to. Not only do they allow you to quickly glance at things like incoming messages or calls, but should a developer build in actionable buttons, you can interact with them as well, without ever having to pull down your notification shade.  (more…)

Google Music Update 5.6.1608P Moves “Downloaded Only” Toggle to Slideout Menu

A new update to Google Music is rolling out today as build 5.6.1608P. The update isn’t massive by any means, but does include a couple of tweaks here and there to the layout.

First, in the slideout navigation menu, you will see a new toggle for “Downloaded Only” music, which is a way for Google Music to only show the music that you have stored on-device. This option used to be tucked inside of a drop-down menu at the top of the app, a menu that is now gone completely. The app now shows a “Downloaded Only” text bar when the option has been toggled, as well. Finally, in playlists, the “pin” button seems to have been swapped out for a “download” icon.  (more…)

Android L Features: Android Beam Now a Part of Share Menu

In Android L, Google has included Android Beam in the sharing menu, making it arguably easier to share items using NFC.

When you go to share an item now in the L version of Android, you will see an icon for Android Beam, along with your icons for Drive or Box or Dropbox or any other app capable of sharing. Once Android Beam has been tapped, your device will tell you to “Tap another device to complete,” which then sends the item as soon as the second device is touched.  (more…)

Google Aims for Consistent UX With Android Wear, TV, and Auto

Last week at Google I/O in San Francisco, Google laid out plans for three new and separate platforms; Android Wear, Android TV, and Android Auto. What differentiates these platforms from past iterations we have seen, such as Google TV or any smartwatch currently available on the market powered by Android, is pretty major though.

From what we have seen in the past from Android-powered smartwatches, the company that creates the watch, creates the overall experience. For example, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear ran Android, but the company limited its use to only Samsung devices, plus had entire control over the way consumers interacted with the watch, which essentially hindered most basic functionality.  (more…)

Android L Features: Battery Saver Tries to Extend Battery Life

One of the many new features introduced with Android L is Battery Saver, a setting that attempts to lengthen the single-charge life of your phone when a charger or outlet is nowhere near. Other manufacturers like Samsung and HTC (Extreme Power Saving Mode) have built battery saver-like features into their phones for quite some time now, but this is the first time Google has done it with stock Android.  (more…)