You can’t imagine there ever being a dull day within the playground offices of Google, as some of the brightest minds in tech discuss the future of the Internet giant while playing on swings and knocking back NutriBullets. Even though 2017 has just begun, Google has wasted no time in experimenting with new features for all things Android-based, and there are so many things they’ve already revealed that they warrant a whole list unto themselves. So here they are!
1. No More Now Launcher
We had some wild times with the Now Launcher; I’ll never forget the day when I swiped right from my homescreen and it told me all the football scores when I didn’t actually want to know them until I watched the highlights later on …
But with the fancy new Pixel Launcher basically doing the same job with a slicker look, the Now Launcher will soon be no more. This will be a little frustrating for non-Pixel/Nougat users in the meantime, as the Pixel Launcher isn’t ubiquitous just yet, but in the long run, switching over to it probably makes the most sense.
2. Offline Reading in Chrome
How has it taken us this long to get here? No matter, we’re here now (hopefully in one piece), and for that I guess we should be grateful. From Chrome 56 onwards, you will be able to save pages for offline reading by tapping the Chrome menu icon at the top right, then selecting the down arrow (or Download button). The page will then be saved in the Downloads section of Chrome for your offline reading leisure.
3. Useful New Tab Page on Chrome
Another new feature that you’ll see from Chrome 56 onwards is a nifty New Tab page, which now shows your downloads (including pages saved for offline reading), recent bookmarks, and favorite websites. It’s a marked improvement on the pretty barebones New Tab page that existed before and makes everything on Chrome that much more interclickable.
4. Progressive Web Apps
Progressive Web Apps have been a thing in Chrome since 2015, allowing users to add their favorite websites to their Android homescreen, provided the site in question meets certain usability criteria.
Google is now introducing the next stage of this which will integrate your favorite websites deeper into Android. If a site develops one of these web apps, and someone adds it to their home screen, it will now also appear in the user’s app drawer (with fully customizeable icons) and be treated by Android just like an app, allowing users to access its App Info page, control its permissions, and have it interact with other apps.
5. Update to My Apps Screen
If you’ve owned an Android device for years, then it’s safe to assume that you’ve built up a stockpile of apps linked to your account over the years. But the current way the “My Apps” section of the Play Store is designed fails to reflect that, as the only modicum of organization in it is to toggle between lists of installed and owned apps.
That’s all changing with Play Store 7.4, and it looks like Google will now have three over-arching categories in the “My apps” section – Updates, Installed and Library. More importantly, you’ll now be able to organize your lists of apps alphabetically, by size, by Last Used and by Last Update. You’ll also be able to open them directly from the list, as well as see their size.
The pace of change at Google is always impressive, and realistically there could be an article like this every month covering all the big updates to look forward to on your Android device and computer. Who knows? If people appreciate this list enough, then we may just do that!
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