Google App update extravaganza brings new features to Search, Maps, and more

google update newlaunchers
Credit: Android Police

You may have noticed that your Notifications panel was filled to the brim with “app updated” status messages today. That’s because Google stealthily released a whirlwind of updates to several of its core applications, including Google Drive, Maps, and most significantly, Search.

Google Drive has been updated with a new 1x1, button-size widget to help you easily access a document with one click. You can set it up like you would an Android bookmark and the tile will launch to the document of your choosing. Drive has also fixed a few bugs and added support for animated GIFs.

Google Play Newsstand now features Mini cards and a widget you can pin to your Android tablet’s Home screen, while Maps includes a heap of new features, including live traffic re-routing, an option to avoid ferries while driving, walking, or cycling, and an option to select your preferred transit mode. The update also enables you to check for Google Offers when you’re near a location that offers them. Both Hangouts and Cloud Print also received an update for bug fixes.

google updates

Google Maps now lets you choose your perferred method of transportation (left), while Google Drive lets you set a bookmark for a document you need often (right). 

As for the Google Search app, Android Police reports that it includes a substantial update to phones with Android 4.4 KitKat. Though Google doesn’t mention any changes on the app’s official change log (usually found at the bottom of its Google Play page), the Google Now Launcher—as it’s now called—starts up with a splash screen on startup that will ask you to import your icons and folders from your old Launcher app. Note that you won’t see the update with the Nexus 5, as it already features the built-in Google Now stub app. Google Now has also added AirBNB reservations and a few new expandable Card types.

Since these are staged rollouts, you may not see the updates to your apps immediately.

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