Will Verduzco · Aug 22, 2013 at 05:00 am

Major Updates for Select First Party Google Apps

Google has been on a roll recently, updating various updates to its first party mobile apps. Two days ago, Google released rather substantial updates to Google Maps and YouTube for Android and iOS. And just a few hours ago, Google Keep and Google Search were given rather hefty overhauls as well. Hangouts was also graced with an extremely minor revision, but the changes are not quite as dramatic as the other apps.

Google Maps underwent a major transformation, integrating functionality previously only seen on Waze such as real-time incident reporting from Waze users. Conversely, Waze benefits from this intermingling by integrating Google Search for local businesses and addresses into its Android and iOS apps. Furthermore, the Waze Map Editor website now uses Google Maps Street View and Satellite imagery for greater ease of use and higher accuracy.

YouTube also was given a major update. In addition to a more polished user interface and the new “Play All” functionality, the app update also adds support for picture-in-picture. This allows you to browse other videos to figure out what you will watch next, before your current video finishes playing. Swiping up on the popup window brings the video back to full view, and swiping to the right dismisses the popup player. Finally, second screen support was also given a minor overhaul, with a preview window that pops up when devices are connected and you select a video.

Hangouts underwent a very minor update, though you’d be hard pressed to notice any changes. Most notably, the developers mention tweaking the app to deliver better performance. However, if you’re on a relatively recent device such as any of the current generation Nexus products, you likely never had any performance issues to begin with. Some bugs were also squashed, and additional emoji emoticons were added. But who uses really emoji anyway?

Google Keep was given fancy new location-aware powers, enabling it to remind you about things of interest at just the right place and time. That said, this feature has been a part of Google Now for some time, as you could say “Remind me to buy eggs when I get to Costco,” and it would remind you to buy eggs when you arrive. Google Keep oneups this by allowing you to snooze notifications, as well as making it easier to add pictures to notes.

Finally, Google Search was given a great new update that is still in the process of being rolled out at this time. The main feature that this new update brings is many more cards. These include cards for car rentals, concerts, commute status sharing, and NCAA football. Several older cards were improved such as TV Listings and public transit. Keep in mind, however, that this version of Google Search is only available if you’re running Jelly Bean 4.1 or greater.

While the apps are being updated with a phased rollout, you can still check the Google Play pages below to make sure you’re running the latest version available to your account:

Are you a fan of these latest updates? Let us know in the comments section below. Personally, I find myself quite enjoying the updates to Maps, Keep, and YouTube. Owning devices that already fare quite well with the older version of Hangouts, the newer revision doesn’t offer a significant improvement. The benefits of the new cards in Search have yet to be seen, but they show pretty good potential to save you time when searching for information.


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