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Google Tweaks Android, iOS Apps

Google has updated a number of its mobile apps recently. We break down some of the biggest changes.

Samsung Unleashes New Mobile Devices: Visual Tour
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Google continues to improve its mobile applications for both the Android and iOS platforms. In recent weeks it has updated a spate of apps, bringing scores of new features to some of its core services. Here's a primer on some of the key changes.

Google responded to some criticism of its Gmail app for Android by restoring a button. Google had altered some of the controls that appear at the top of the screen within Gmail. Among the changes, Google removed the delete button, which took away an easy way for Android device users to get rid of unwanted messages. Though the button could be returned to the top-level controls with some customizations, Google put it back automatically after fielding complaints from disgruntled users.

Google Earth got a big update for both Android and iOS devices. The new version imports Street View from Google Maps. With Street View in Earth, users will be able to explore the world from the ground level. Street Views has long been helpful in Maps to get a real-life preview of locations to which the user might be traveling. Google Earth also now returns better search results and provides improved directions, including 3D maps for driving, walking, and mass transit. Google Earth also got a new user interface that makes controlling the app a bit easier as well.

[ Android is getting better at deflecting malware, but carriers need to be more proactive about providing updates. Read Older Android Devices At Risk As Carriers Delay Upgrades. ]

iOS device users now have an experience within Google Hangouts that is more or less on par with the Android experience, thanks to the adds several new cards to the Google Now portion of the app. Google Now can now display cards with information pertaining to television shows and Google Offers. In order to get TV show info on your Android device, you must have an Internet-connected TV set. The app works when both the phone and TV are being used on the same network. Tap the "Listen for a TV Show" button, and Google Now will listen to what's on TV and perform a search based on what it hears. It can return results such as the show's name, actors, title of the episode, and so on. The Google Now cards will also push reminders to Android device users when they approach a store where there's a saved offer in their account. Apparently, Google hopes that being pushy will encourage more people to take advantage of its Offers service.

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