Google Maps, YouTube And WhatsApp For Android Updated

Few hours after the Day 1 keynote at I/O 2012 event in San Francisco, Google has rolled out a couple of updates for its popular Google Maps and YouTube apps on Android. On the other hand, our favorite messaging service, WhatsApp for Android has received a major update. Earlier today, Google has moved the Chrome browser out of the beta status. Chrome For Android is currently the standard browser on the recently announced Nexus 7 tablet. To learn more about the new Chrome for Android, head over to this post.

Google Maps for Android:

Earlier this month, Google has showed off the offline maps support for the Google Maps on Android. This feature was already available in “Labs”, but it allowed us to download the maps for a 10-mile radius. The latest offline maps support allows us to download the maps for a larger area. This feature is useful while you are travelling in a new city and does not have access to data or Wi-Fi connection.

YouTube for Android:

Google has rolled out a new version of its popular YouTube for Android app. The latest update comes with a loads of new features. However, this update is available only for devices running on Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) and Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) OS. This updates bring a brand new UI along with a guide on the left side of the screen, which offers instant access to your subscribed channels.

It also allows you to preload your “Subscriptions” and “Watch Later” queue while you are on Wi-Fi and charging for smooth playback on the go. Other features include HD video playback for select devices running on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS. Check out the complete changelog below.

Android 3.2+ devices: v.4.0:

  • New UI: Guide on the left side of the screen with instant access to channels
  • Preload videos while on WiFi and charging for smooth playback on the go
  • Turn your phone into a remote, to play YouTube videos on other devices
  • Access your watch History across devices

Earlier Android devices: v.2.4:

  • Sign-in with Google account
  • HD playback (on capable phones)
  • Multiple bug fixes

WhatsApp for Android:

One of my favorite messaging app, WhatsApp for Android has also received a major update. The latest version is numbered 2.7.9736 and it brings large font size and long vibrate setting to help with accessibility, search within conversation feature, bug fixes and much more. It also allows you to add a background in a conversation from the given set of images or from the images saved on your smartphone. The complete changelog is posted after the break.


  • Added search within conversation feature
  • Increased the “large” font size to help with accessibility
  • Add a czech translation (Thanks Rene!)
  • Add a default wallpaper
  • Add a “long” vibrate setting to help with accessibility
  • Settings screen overhaul and improvement
  • Add a “recent” tab to the share contact picker
  • Lots of bug fixes and user interface improvements

[ Download Google Maps For Android ]

[ Download YouTube for Android ]

[ Download WhatsApp for Android ]

Angry Birds Space, Instagram, Google Maps, Endomondo and Dropbox For Android Receive Updates!

Rovio has released an update for Angry Birds Space that adds 10 new delectable levels filled with “popcorn, cookies, and candy apples”. In these 10 new levels, the birds can bounce off jelly trampolines, and “pop corn to create delicious mayhem”.

Apart from Angry Birds Space, Instagram for Android has also received an update. The new update improves the search functionality of the app and contains some bug fixes as well. Below is the full change-log of the update -:

  • Improved search functionality
  • Support for location data taken from Gallery images when geotag is selected
  • Fix for HTC Sensation 4G freezing using tilt shift
  • Improved support and bugfixes for devices using the Instagram advanced camera
  • Addresses tilt shift issues on lower resolution images

Dropbox for Android also got an update that adds custom-tailored video streaming for Ice Cream Sandwich users, and support for Korean language.

Endomono for Android also received an update today that adds some new features and enhances certain aspects of the UI. Below is the change-log of the update -:

  • Interval training has had some beautification
  • Add a profile picture from the phone using e.g. the camera
  • An about screen added in the settings that shows the app’s version number and what’s new
  • Numerous bugfixes (incl. GPS sleep bug)

Last but not the least, Google has also rolled out a minor update for Google Maps that fixes some of the Latitude related bugs with the app.

Swiftkey 3 Beta 3 Released; Google Maps and Translate Also Updated

If you own an Android handset, chances are you must be using Swiftkey X keyboard. The keyboard has awesome prediction abilities, and actually learns your typing style as time passes by. A couple of months ago, the Swiftkey team had released a new beta version of their keyboard known as Swiftkey 3.

The new version brought about a slightly redesigned layout, a better prediction system, a bigger space bar with an intelligent space bar prediction system that will totally eliminate the use of the space bar. While the keyboard does not really eliminate the use of the space bar, the new improved prediction system is definitely a noticeable improvement over Swiftkey X.

Swiftkey 3 is still in beta though, and a new beta of the keyboard was released yesterday. The new beta fixes some bugs, improves the prediction algorithms and provides a much better and consistent punctuation key behavior. There are some other bug-fixes and changes as well. Here is the full change-low of the beta 3 update -:

  • Improved prediction algorithms
  • Better, more consistent punctuation key behavior
  • Smarter Smart Space functionality (which will make it easier to enter email addresses etc)
  • A refined experience in Google Chrome Beta
  • Fixed missing predictions on the longpress of @ and .com
  • Improved gestures
  • Eliminated lag on letter pop-ups
  • Various other minor bug fixes and usability improvements
Interested readers can download the Swiftkey 3 beta for free from their VIP forums by signing up.
Two popular apps from Google – Maps and Translate – have also received an update. The new update for Google Maps brings with it reviews of popular places from your friends or experts, and Zagat scores and summaries for popular places. The update for Google Translate brings with it a Holo themed UI, an updated icon, and many “new text to speech languages.”

Apple To Drop Google Maps In iOS 6; Will Debut Homebrewed Mapping Solutions

Apple is ready to ditch Google Maps in favor of home brewed mapping solution on its iOS operating system that powers iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, reports 9To5MacContinue reading Apple To Drop Google Maps In iOS 6; Will Debut Homebrewed Mapping Solutions

The New Way of 4D Storytelling with Meograph

Photo tours around the globe is a great pastime with Google Earth and Google Street View. The brilliant imagery in a spiffy interface is indeed a great way to kill time. Now add to that a little bit of geospatial data in form of videos, audio and images. You get Meograph. So far telling a story that covered a wide time span and lots of places was hard or was in pieces. Meograph combines them into a single experience.


Developed by Misha Leybovich, the new tool lets you navigate through places and annotate them with relevant videos, images and audio thereby creating an illustration akin to presentations. Take a look at the demo where the life of the celebrated music artist Whitney Houston is illustrated dexterously using clips from her music videos, movies she featured, songs that she sang and snaps relating to her. The entire sequence of events is narrated to present a more lively storytelling.

Meograph is in the making now and all you can do is watch the demo videos to get an idea of what can be achieved with the new app. You can also request for an invite. The new concept also brings in a new type of media which is kind of a blend between video and presentations. An experience that you witness when a company executive presents a quarterly growth report, only this one’s more enjoyable. Interesting part is this can be a brilliant way to imitate what Facebook so affectionately refers to as Timeline and can be embedded on any webpage. Hopefully the service will open doors this summer.

Google Maps v6.5 Goes Live; New Navigation Homescreen, Map Tiles and More!

Google has just released a new update for Google Maps for Android. With this release, the search engine giant is celebrating 50 billion KMs of turn-by-turn navigations (!), which is equivalent to 130,000 trips to the moon, 334 trips to the sun or 10 trips to Neptune.

The new update (v6.5) contains a redesigned Navigation home screen for devices running Android 4.0+, which follows the Holo theme introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich. If you own an Android phones with a very high screen resolution like the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S II or the Droid RAZR, you will now get maps tiles with higher resolution for better clarity and sharpness.

The new tiles will automatically start showing up in the next few days. For immediate effect though, users can clear the Map’s cache. The new update also allows users to set a preferred public transit mode, and/or a route option. The new update of Google Maps (v6.5) is already live in the Google Play market for Android device owners to enjoy!

French Court Rules Against Google Maps for Unfair Competition

Google Maps is a wonderful worldwide mapping service. It provides excellent geographical details, and all its features are available for free, if you are a direct consumer of their mapping product, Google Maps. Google Maps also has an API for all of its mapping features like directions, traffic information and place information. However, Google has recently started charging developers for its API, and this has put it in a controversial position.


Bottin Cartographers is a provider of mapping services to many French companies, and it has been in this business for two decades. Bottin Cartographers accused Google Maps two years ago of killing competition, by offering a competitive service for free. Their argument was that Google Maps would drive out other players in this field, and then, once it captures the market with its free product, it will start charging its users. Finally, the court has ruled in favor of Bottin Cartographers, and Google has to pay a fine of 515,000 euros.

While Bottin Cartographers is only a provider of mapping services, Google has both a free Map service, and a map API for use by developers and other mapping services. However, it has recently started charging higher for its API, which gives meaning to Bottin Cartographers’ worries.

Google’s decision to increase charges for its API usage has also upset many developers, and services that used Google Maps. They are looking for Google Maps API alternatives, or considering building their own maps now.

Google Updates Maps for Android to v6, Launches Indoor Mapping Project

Now that Google has managed to map most of the places across the world in a fair amount of detail, it has set its eyes upon conquering the next frontier – indoor navigation. Yes, I am not kidding. Google wants to map notable indoor locations like airports and retail stores to provide floor by floor navigation to users. With that goal in mind, it has released a new version of Maps for Android that is fine tuned for indoor navigation.

Google Maps is launching indoor navigation with floor plans for a few dozen airports and retail locations in the US and Japan. The list of supported locations in the States include Mall of America, IKEA, The Home Depot, select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. “We’re thrilled Google Maps continues to provide you with new and helpful perspectives—whether you’re rushing through the airport or finding your way around a mall”, wrote Brian McClendon, VP of Engineering, Google Earth and Map.

Besides introducing indoor maps, Google Maps 6 also features a couple of other improvements. The Places user interface has been revamped, and it now helpfully lists your frequent searches on the home screen, besides featuring direct Latitude check-in integration. The Maps user interface has also been tweaked slightly to accommodate floor selector for indoor mapping, and convenient switching between common features.

The updated Google Maps is available for download in the Market.


So You Want to Kick the Google Habit? [Editorial]



Google Everywhere

It is hard to go online today without touching one or more Google products or services. If it is not search, it may be email, YouTube, Blogger, Picasa, Docs, or Calendar. Google has truly blanketed us with their web-based app offerings. Heck, even the Google Doodle is a conversation topic!

In this editorial, I shall discuss how you can kick the Google habit, what I am using now as alternatives and why you probably won’t be able to replace certain Google products today. Ready to move away from Google? First, some background.

Why un-Google?

Some of the reasons I personally decided to look for alternatives:

  • Google became a part of virtually everything I did online. I used GMail, Google Reader, Google Finance, Blogger, Picasa, Picasa Web, Google Docs, Google Search, Google Calendar and Google Maps. I felt uncomfortable putting such a large portion of my online life in Google’s hands.
  • Google morphed from the cool little startup building fun stuff for consumers, to a dominant public company whose revenues essentially came from just one product. That’s the key most (96%) of its revenues (and profits) came from search advertising. In other words, it needed other ways to make money. The most obvious way to do so would be to extend the arm of advertising, their main revenue-generating product, into other products. I realized I was the merchandise.
  • Google seemed to get Apple and Facebook envy. Apple was growing rapidly across all their product lines and at very high profit margins, and Facebook was taking eyeballs and key talent away from Google. This led to some bad attempts to mock Apple and Facebook publicly, which of course delighted the Google developer and enthusiast community but came off as being negative to me. If you make a great product, you don’t need a negative campaign.
  • Aside from philosophy, some of the competing products started becoming better, and Google’s products started getting worse (more on that within my descriptions) prompting me to start Project Un-Google which was an effort to use fewer and fewer Google products, hopefully reaching a point where I did not depend on any Google product at all.

Whether it is for philosophy, or hedging your web app bets, it is good to know there is life outside Google when it comes to products and services online and offline. There is usually a strong resistance to change, especially if you have a long history with a product. There is a high cost for transferring the old stuff, and learning your way around a new product/service. However, these challenges are not insurmountable, and I hope you take a look at some or all of the products I list here as an alternative to Google. If you have ideas of other products I may not have mentioned, please let me know!

Popular Google products

Here are some of the Google products/services I will be comparing to competition:

  • Search
  • Picasa
  • GMail
  • Calendar
  • Documents
  • Groups
  • Finance
  • Blogger
  • Chrome
  • Maps/Directions
  • Talk/Chat/Voice

I realize Google has many more products, appsand services, but I did not look at products like Book Search which are very niche. My attempt here is to look at the commonly used products and services only.

Google Maps Adds Support For Shortlinks

One of the problems of sharing a Google Maps location with someone is its incredibly long URL, containing all the parameters e.g latitude, longitude, search terms, long strings of numbers and so on. It looks very bad on your email signature / newsletter and novice users often have no idea what this link is all about. Seeing the long URL of a Google Maps location, some users may get the feeling that you’re spamming them.

Of course, you can use, or any other URL shortening service to shorten the URL of a location on Google Maps but here is some good news.

Google has officially rolled out support for URL shortener in Google Maps. Now you can obtain the shortened link to a Google map using the linkbutton at the top right corner of the page, as shown below:


By default, Google Maps will show you the long URL of the selected location but choosing the Short URLcheckbox will shorten the long URL to a sweet That’s far better, easy to memorize and far more readable.

This feature is only available on the web version of Google maps as of now, while Android users have to wait for the next update of Google Maps app for Android.

The short URL for Google maps also works on Place pages, but the sad news is that there is no way to get a customized short URL for your Google maps place page. For example: If you sell black hats in California and want to generate a short URL for your Google maps business page at, you are out of luck.

Actually, this is in a way good and keeps away spam. Allowing the option to customize the ending characters in the short URL would lay the welcome mat open for spammers. No one wants to click a link that has the word restaurant in it and land in to the address of an SEO firm.

Google says that this is part of their effort to increase trust among users.

We only use to send you to Google web pages, and only Google Maps can generate a URL. This means that you can visit a a shortcut with confidence, and always know you will end up on a Google Maps page.