This Week in Android: Jul 8th – 14th

Good news: it’s time to say goodbye to those sleepless nights wondering whether Apple and Amazon’s clash of the app stores will ever end, although Google Latitude’s going to be on the way out. Let’s take a look at this very software-themed week in the world of Android!

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Dropbox Cloud Syncing Platform

Dropbox, everybody’s beloved cloud storage service, has launched a new service aimed at syncing third-party apps in a way similar to Apple’s iCloud. The new API, named Datastores, is available for Android, iOS and Javascript developers, and joins a collection of options for these developers from big names like Microsoft and Apple.

Datastores from Dropbox.

Datastores from Dropbox.

Datastores will allow users to forego unofficial methods of app syncing, traditionally done through the use of Dropbox in conjunction with a local file in a user’s Dropbox folder. The Datastores API will be coming soon.

Apple, Amazon Settle Trademark Woes

Apple and Amazon have called time on the ongoing trademark dispute over the company’s respective app marketplaces. A US District Court Judge in California has reportedly dismissed the lawsuit between Amazon and Apple after the latter signed to agree not to pursue further legal conflict with Amazon over the name.

The settlement, ending the 2011 lawsuit, is reported to be originating from Apple’s side. An Apple spokesperson is quoted as saying, “with more than 900,000 apps and 50 billion downloads, customers know where they can purchase their favourite apps.”

The Amazon Appstore launched in March 2011, paving the way for Amazon’s own line of Android-powered devices. Since launch, the Appstore has expanded to many more territories and devices, becoming one of the most prominent alternative Android app marketplaces.

Google Maps Updated, Latitude Retired

Google Maps for Android has a fresh new look, serving up the interface originally previewed at Google I/O onto the Play Store. The new design sports an aesthetic in line with the rest of Google’s updated apps, featuring a card-based layout and reworked typography. Tablet owners, breathe a sigh of relief! The update is not just for phones as tablets are also receiving an update, offering larger devices a design that resembles that of the beta version of the web client, also revealed earlier this year at Google I/O.

The new Google Maps for Android tablets.

The new Google Maps for Android tablets.

Design aside, a number of other improvements have been made to the app. Google also claims navigation features have been ehnaced, offering new traffic data with incident reports on the road, in addition to new review functionality complete with new Zagat integration.

Google has also announced that they’re retiring their Latitude product on August 9th. While Latitude services will be deprecated and made unavailable, the company has said it will integrate the service’s check-in and location sharing features into Google+ for Android. With the shutdown happening in early August, an update to Google+ for Android should be expected in the coming weeks.

Other Updates

  • Google has expanded the availability of One Today, the company’s app for easily donating $1 to a variety of nonprofit organisations, to all US users this week.
  • Google has added voice-only calling to Google+ hangouts, allowing users to enter hangouts without a video stream.
  • Following controversy over a recent update, Skype has been updated to fix difficulties when signing out of the app.