As most of you Android enthusiasts would already know, the latest Android operating system (OS) version, Android 4.4 KitKat has already arrived on Google's Nexus devices.
For those who are using anything other than a Nexus smartphone or tablet, the chances of you officially getting this latest Android version update in the near future is pretty slim.
Android OS updates will never be rolled out simultaneously to all Android users because most manufacturers have customised the OS on their Android devices to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.
The manufacturers and certain telcos will have to test the latest updates sent to them by Google and then customise the software so that it will be compatible with their product offerings. As such, most Android users usually have to wait for ages before they can finally receive an update. Some unfortunate users may never even be able to experience any updates.
To tackle the problem, Google has cleverly come out with an ingenious way to mitigate the fragmentation problem that has plagued the Android ecosystem all this while. Instead of having users wait for their manufacturers or telcos to come out with a version of the latest OS that is tailored for their devices, users will get latest Google features via updates to their apps through the Google Play Store.
Ever since the announcement of this strategy at the Google IO earlier this year, we have seen many of the Google apps receiving major updates every now and then. In the past few weeks itself, we have received some interesting updates to a few of the Google apps that we use. Here are some of the changes that came with the updates.
The social media app released by Google might not be gaining as much interest as they would've liked, but Google isn't giving up just yet. Now that YouTube requires users to sign in to a Google+ account to comment on videos, expect to see more people signing up for a Google+ account, whether reluctantly or not.
It is not all bad though. While I don't use Google+ too much, one feature that I really appreciate is the ability to backup mobile photos. Security concerns aside, it is convenient that Google+ can be set to automatically upload all my photos and videos to the cloud once I'm connected to a WiFi connection.
Over the past few months, Google has focused more on the photo capabilities of the Google+ app by including auto enhancement features. The recent updates further enhances Google+'s photo viewing and editing features. Image details of photos are also now available in the updated app.
For those on the newer versions of Android, the photos will now work with Android Beam, hence making it easier to transfer pictures to other NFC-capable Android devices.
Photos will also work with the Daydream screen-saver feature, so you can have a slideshow of your pictures straight from your cloud.
Coming together with the update is also an improvement to the Locations section, which will now automatically refresh the locations of your friends once you open it. This is provided your friends actually use this feature of Google+.
The Google Photos app was also pushed to Android devices together with the recent Google+ update. With this move, Google is expected to soon replace the Gallery app with the Photos app.
On a separate note, Google has also announced its plans of soon using users' Google+ profile pictures as their caller ID picture.
Evidently, the updates to the Google+ app integrates it more deeply into the Google ecosystem with hopes that more people will use their Google+ accounts more regularly.