WELCOME TO our flowery meadow of Google leftovers. Here you'll find all the Google/Android/Alphabet news you didn't get to in the week and some apps we like. This week, we're covering apps for watching this HUGE weekend of sport.
First up as always though, the news:
Good news for Android Auto users: for the first time you can look at a satellite view of your route. Just one thing to remember though - that uses hella more data, so be sparing.
Remember Spectre? Remember the doomsaying of systems being slowed down by it? Yeah, well, that's officially a thing. Google has admitted that version 67 is up to 14 per cent slower, thanks to its efforts to scupper Spectre.
Is it us or wasn't it the same Google that was saying it could do it with no additional overheads? And isn't it Chrome that already has a horrendously bad reputation for memory hogging? Yeah, we thought so.
Just as we're gearing up for a Pixel 3 (probably sometime in Autumn), the issue that has dogged Pixel 2 owners for nearly a year - that of out of focus panorama shots - has been fixed, we're told. Only thing is, it's not by Google. And that means that you won't be able to fix it yourself without rooting your device. Your move Pixel 2 fans.
Google Home devices are getting cheaper and cheaper as it catches up with Alexa. And with that comes ever more functionality - imported URL and iCal calendars can now be read by the device and added to your agenda. Swit swoo.
Google Pay is now better able to compete with its Apple equivalent. At last, the digital wallet really is a digital wallet, allowing you to pay back your mates and store tickets and passes. About ruddy time too. As of yet, US only, but we expect it'll roll out here pretty quick.
One passing point before we move on. We know Google reads this piece every week, so this is for them - Hey Google! Why is the US getting free albums to download in Google Music and we're not? No fair, dudes. That is all.
Now we move swiftly from news and gossip to apps.
This week instead of the usual ramshackle apps, we thought in honour of the Wimbledon and World Cup matches this weekend, we're presenting the best Android apps for following the action:
BBC iPlayer (free)
Because of the unique way it's funded the iPlayer app is available almost universally. What is less universal, but worth seeking out, is the addition of HDR for compatible sets this summer (including some Android TV sets) - we've mentioned it already, but this is your change to get the best quality possible out of your TV picture for the big matches both on the court and the pitch.
Do note - you'll need to opt in to Beta features in your settings.
Even without paying, you'll have access to the main TV channels with TVPlayer. There's no HD yet, but it does have a beautifully laid out interface and works as well as your own placeshifting software. It's very stable too, even if your connection is a little shonky.
Wimbledon has always been ahead of the curve technologically - it's one of the great marriages between tradition and progress. This app not only tells you scores and show you clips but thanks to their longstanding partnership with IBM Watson, you can see granular stats for each shot, plus see what people on Henman Hill are thinking with a sentiment tracker for the popular crowd.
FIFA World Cup Russia (free)
The official FIFA app offers push notifications, plus all the things you'd expect from a World Cup magazine from the seventies, in a slightly more modern form. There's no live coverage here mind.
Google Feed (free - already on your device)
The best thing about the Google feed contribution to the canon is that once you get the match you want on screen, there's an option to "Pin It", which creates a floating widget, which in turn will update from the corner of your device no matter what else you're doing. We need more floating widgets doing useful things in the world.
That's it - more next week, as ever. μ
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