What makes Google’s first-party Android apps generally get the thumbs up from the most users and get ranked very high in the most downloaded Google Play charts? Well, there are a number of things, but it’s mostly about support and the number of updates issued to iron out kinks, but also to always improve and tweak the user experience.
Sure, you might say that Google would not need so many updates if the apps wouldn’t be so glitchy in the first place, but let’s not get caught up in details and look at the bright side of things.
We can for example be very grateful today for a slew of upgrades being rolled out straight from the busy offices in Mountain View. Among the tuned-up apps, we have some greats – including Translate or Voice – but also some “minions”, like Catalogs or Apps Device Policy.
Probably the most critical update went to Translate, who’s now reached version 2.5.3. The translation tool has got new handwriting recognition for a number of new languages, including Afrikaans, Icelandic, Macedonian, Slovak, and Welsh. You can also translate from Chinese, Japanese or Korean by using your cameras’ text recognition functions, but this only works for horizontal texts for now.
Next up we have an upgrade to version 0.4.2.75 for Google Voice. The 2-year old app that’s still technically a pre-1.0 product should now be less glitchy than before after two major bug fixes have been rolled out.
Unfortunately, while the issue of delayed SMS notifications seems to have been swiftly solved, the fix for inbox syncing and duplicate notifications is only partially working. Big oops for Google here!
No oops and no problem with Google Authenticator’s update bringing the app to version 2.35 however. While this is also a “minor” maintenance upgrade, like all the others, it comes with two very important tweaks – a bug fix in account setup flow and UI improvements than you can actually spot with your naked eye.
Zagat, Google Apps Device Policy, YouTube for Google TV, Google Catalogs and My Tracks are the other apps recently upgraded, but we’re mostly talking about barely noticeable improvements. Zagat, for instance, got a fix for a pretty uncommon bug that caused unexpected crashes, while YouTube for Google TV now comes with support for ad skipping.
Google Catalogs version 1.3.0 has “improved stability” and “improved resolution for Nexus 10”, the new My Tracks app has an ever so slightly changed map view and app widget, while finally Google Apps Device Policy v4.13 comes with support for control of Lock Screen Widgets.
Anyone overly excited about any of these updates? How about very disappointed?