Google once again filled Wednesday with the latest updates to its software, and here’s our weekly roundup of the main changes.
Chromecast, which last week received its first big challenge in the form of Matchstick, a screencasting device based on Firefox OS, has received a big update which finally enables custom backgrounds for the home screen, making it possible to use your TV screen as a giant digital picture frame showing your Google+ photos.
iOS users can also add news headlines and weather reports. However, with screencasting still in limited beta, the killer use case for Chromecast is still waiting primetime.In the meantime, UK users jealous of their American counterparts’ two months of free Hulu can rejoice, as from today users are being offered three months of Now TV.
Chrome 38, last seen in the beta channel, has made the leap to stable, and did so a little bit early, first appearing late on Tuesday. Changes are mostly under the hood for this one. Version 39, currently in the dev channel, should progress to beta next month and, although it is a new version number, it has no new feature announcements at the time of writing.
Chrome for Android has also been updated with bug and security fixes and some “additional Material design”. Material is the new design specification that will permeate Android L and Chrome as the company works towards platform parity including Android apps running inside the Chrome browser.
A brand new standalone version of Hangouts for Windows and Chrome OS adds a hugely improved instant messaging experience to the desktop with Chatheads, similar to those used in Facebook mobile, and speech bubbles when a new message arrives.It works independently of the notoriously system-hogging Chrome browser, so it should take a little less memory footprint.
With the formal announcement of Google Android L believed to be less than a week away, and widely expected to be called ‘Lollipop’ after an incident with a birthday cake, next week’s round up is likely to be full of tasty treats to go with the new hardware that is expected to arrive.