Google Play App Updated to 4.9.13 With Material Design App Pages

Google Play App Updated to 4.9.13 With Material Design App Pages

Google has begun the rollout of an update to the Google Play application on Android. At first glance the update doesn’t seem to have any big changes. The sliding menu is the same, and the Play Store home page is the same as it has been for a while. Once you actually navigate to the page for an app it’s very clear that this is a bigger update than a quick glance lets on. Google has redesigned the app pages with new animations and a new design to fit in with their new Material Design style.

Old Google Play on the left, new on the right.

As you can see, the new design is much different and this applies to almost every aspect of the design from the colors to the shapes to the animations. The first thing that stands out is the change in background color from grey to white. While this is a matter of personal preference, I find the white much more appealing than the grey. Google has also shifted around many parts of the application. The positions of app screenshots and the app changelog have been moved to put better focus on the actual information on the page. Apps that have a video trailer will have it prominently displayed at the top. The changes to animations are difficult to describe in photos but what can be said is that they take advantage of the idea of layers and objects in Material Design. As you scroll downward the page gradually begins to cover up the space where the trailer was as it is pushed offscreen. When selecting “read more” in the app changelog the top and bottom sections of the app are pushed offscreen and the user is greeted with a fullscreen view containing only the relevant information about the app description, changes, and developer info.

Upon scrolling down you can see that Google has increased the size of the application photos. With the video trailer moved to the top of the application there’s also much more space to display screenshots which is good for developers hoping to show off their application. Google has also added more color to the application by color coding the bars that represent the ratings given by users. The overall app itself also has fewer horizontal lines separating sections which leads to a much cleaner look, particularly in the reviews section of the app page. Finally, Google has moved the share and Google+ buttons down beneath the reviews section from its previous position right underneath the app screenshots.

This update isn’t quite the complete Material Design overhaul that users are excited for. That will likely come closer to the time that we see Android L released in the fall. But for now it gives good insight into where Google is headed with app design and what can be looked forward to for all of Google’s apps going into the future. As with all of Google’s app updates, it may take some time for the new application to reach your device.

Google Begins Android 4.4.3 Rollout

Google Begins Android 4.4.3 Rollout

After initially posting factory images yesterday, Google has begun it’s OTA rollout of its latest iteration of Android 4.4 KitKat. Android 4.4 launched in October last year alongside Google’s newest smartphone, the Nexus 5. On the design front, Android 4.4 brought many refinements to the user interface by introducing the ability to enable translucency in areas such as the status bar and navigation buttons. In addition, the legacy blue parts of the interface like the status bar icons were replaced with more unified white elements. It also featured the new Google Experience Launcher which features much deeper Google Now integration with the ability to trigger voice search by saying “OK Google” on your homescreen.

Under the hood, Google brought about optimizations like ZRAM support which allows data for idle background applications to be stored in a compressed RAM partition to free up RAM for applications in use. A low-RAM API with more aggressive memory management to improve performance on devices with as little as 512MB of RAM was included as well. Google also introduced their new experimental Java runtime which they call ART. ART hopes to improve application performance over Android’s current Dalvik runtime, which uses just-in-time compilation, by using ahead-of-time compilation to compile Java bytecode into machine code at the time of install.

Shortly afterward, Google released version 4.4.1 and 4.4.2 which included substantial improvements to the Nexus 5 camera performance by focusing faster and having the camera software prefer faster shutter speeds. The algorithms for calculating white balance and color balance were also tweaked to address complaints about inaccurate color in captured images. Compatibility between the ART runtime and third party applications was also improved, along with many other bug fixes and security improvements.

Android 4.4.3 is mainly an update to fix outstanding bugs with Android Kitkat but there are a couple of tweaks to the user interface that come along with it as well.

One of the long awaited fixes of this release is for excessive battery drain that could occur when an application used a device’s camera as a result of a process called ‘mm-qcamera-daemon’ which controls the camera on Qualcomm-powered devices. After an app using the camera was closed the process would continue to run in the background and cause abnormally high CPU usage which resulted in increased battery drain and higher device temperatures than normal.

In terms of updates to the UI, Android 4.4.3 brings a new dialer application and changes to the people app. The new dialer features white keys with a different shade of blue that fits better with the overall design of KitKat itself. The black and turquoise of the dialer has seemed like a design outlier compared to Google’s new applications for quite some time now and it’s good to see Google continuing to unify the design of the Android OS. The new people application is mainly the same as its predecessor but it replaces the older grey contact photo icons for contacts you have not assigned a picture to with new colorful ones.

The update is currently known to be rolling out to Google’s 2013 Nexus 7 with LTE, and it should reach other Nexus devices that support Android KitKat which includes the Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2012/2013 WiFi), and Nexus 10 shortly. Google Experience devices should receive their updates to Android 4.4.3 in the near future. Google is yet to post a summary changelog for the update and all the various bug and security fixes it includes but when it becomes available it will be added here. As always, Google’s update rollouts are done in stages and it may take some time for your device to receive it.

Source: Google Nexus 7 OTA via Android Police