This Week In Android: Nov 4th – 10th

Fan of barges, alpha applications and 7-inch carrier-branded tablets, lend me your ears! This week has seen updates from a number of big players in the Android world, including Google themselves and Verizon, the latter showing off their own brand of Android tablet this week. Let’s take a look!

Google’s Barge Design

The design of Google’s mysterious barge, reported to be a modern showroom for new Google technologies, seems to have been revealed in discovered artist renderings.

An artist rendering of Google's barge design.

An artist rendering of Google’s barge design.

Documents submitted with the Port of San Francisco describe the barge as “reminiscent of fish fins, which will remind visitors that they are on a seaworthy vessel” and promises that the structure will “stand out”. Although exact details are not confirmed, Google did issue a statement last week describing the barge as an “interactive space where people can learn about new technology”.

Twitter in Alpha

After having experimented with upcoming changes to its official Android client with a beta test group, Twitter has now launched an open group for alpha testers. The group, which co-ordinates through Google’s Group service, will offer dedicated users the chance to check out new features before they are escalated to the general public.

Verizon’s Ellipsis

Verizon, the United States-based carrier, has launched its own family of Android devices, starting with a 7-inch tablet. The tablet, which is the first in a product family named “Ellipsis” will be available on November 7th for $249.99 off-contract.

Verizon' first Ellipsis device, a 7-inch tablet.

Verizon’ first Ellipsis device, a 7-inch tablet.

The tablet’s 7-inch display runs at 1280px x 800px, powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of on-board storage. Of course, the tablet will also run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network in the US and includes access to the RedBox Instant service.

Another Month, Another Glass Update

This month’s Glass update brings a number of new features to Google’s wearable computer. Firstly, Google has made it easier to look up your agenda with the phrase “ok glass, google” followed by a time-related query. Furthermore, Google has also added a quick shortcut to getting directions to work or home with the phrase “ok glass, get directions to home/work”.

Google's November update adds two new syntaxes for querying directions or your agenda.

Google’s November update adds two new syntaxes for querying directions or your agenda.

Other Updates

  • Motorola has teased the announcement of its Moto G smartphone, a device to complement a product family that kicked off with the Moto X. The company plans a reveal for November 13th.
  • Google has spun off stock Android’s text-to-speech features into its own Google Play store-delivered app. “Google Text-to-Speech” is available for free through Google Play and continues a trend of Google delivering and maintaining key features through their app marketplace.
  • Google updated Hangouts for Android this week, adding support for SMS and MMS messages, animated GIFs and easier location sharing, following the features debuting in Android 4.4 and the Nexus 5.
  • Google also updated Google Keyboard this week adding Emoji entry points for KitKat users and gesture typing for adding spaces.

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