Android app updates – Chrome, Maps, Earth, Google+ and more
Slightly overshadowed by Google’s plethora of hardware announcements yesterday were the announcements regarding sofrware updates, which are pretty substantial as well. Coupled with the news that the Play Store has received a serious update, the software experience on Android really has been enhanced. Here’s a look at the improvements for various apps.
Chrome for Android
Chrome for Android has been available for ICS devices for a while now in beta form, but it has now been officially released and will replace the stock internet browser on Jelly Bean devices. Support for extensions has not been included as we would have wished, but 20 security vulnerabilities have been fixed, which is proabably more important. Chrome for Android is still only available for handsets running ICS or higher, so if you are running an older version of Android, check out the new Firefox browser or Dolphin beta.
Google Maps for Android
The biggie in the Google Maps update, which was announced a few weeks ago but has now gone live, is offline caching. This means that if your data connection drops off in a low coverage area, you won’t lose the ability to navigate. Over 150 countries are supported and you can store up to six large cities at a time. The update is available now in the Play Store for devices running Android 3.0 or higher.
Google Earth for Android
The updated version of Google Earth provides an incredibly realistic virtual tour of the cities included, which are San Francisco, Boston and Rome at the moment (with more to be added in the coming weeks). However, you will need a handset with a dual core processor in order to take advantage of the 3D recreations. Version 7 of Google Earth also includes a new feature called Tour Guide, which points out various attractions and amenities of the area that you are viewing. Prepare to be amazed by the demo video below.
Google was pleased to let everyone know yesterday that Google+ now has more than 250 million users, albeit only 150 million that are active. Still, with the features and improvements that it is constantly adding, that number is only set to grow.
The Google+ app has now been optimised for Android tablets and is available now, with an update for iPad users due to follow shortly. It’s been well received so far and this will only help Google to grow its social-networking user base.
G+: I know its been said a lot, but this new G+ app on a tablet is fantastic. Its not too shabby on a phone either.
— Gary Weldon (@UbuntuBhoy) June 28, 2012
Other Google apps updated
As well as those mentioned above, other core Android apps that have received an update include YouTube, Play Books, Play Movies and Google Street View. This makes them compatible with Jelly Bean, or mirrors the new features on non Jelly Bean devices.