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Google updates its suite of Android apps, including Maps, Newsstand, Search, Drive and Hangouts

Google appears to be on an update tear, releasing new versions of many apps in its Android arsenal (and one on iOS, too).

So, what’s new? Let’s get right to it.

Google Search

Perhaps the most important update is to Google Search, which brings an update to Google Now that enables hotword support for devices set to Canadian English. Specifically, those with system language set to Canadian English will now be able to say “OK, Google” from the default Nexus 5 (or Google Now Launcher — more on that in a sec) launcher to have the device begin listening for commands.

The Nexus 5 shipped with a new KitKat launcher called Google Experience, which added an always-on hotword function to the existing search bar. In the latest update, the Google Experience launcher has been changed to the Google Now launcher, hinting at further system integration with the excellent context-sensitive personal assistant.

Google Maps

Maps received a nice little update on both iOS and Android, offering dynamic route changes when traffic is snarled on the way to a destination. The changelog notes that if a faster route opens up, navigators will be informed from within the app.

Google Drive

Drive for Android now supports animated GIFs (yay?), but the main addition is a new 1×1 widget that makes photo-based document scanning even faster.

Google Play Newsstand

Play Newsstand was only announced late last year, but the Play Magazines replacement has received a nice update, adding a new widget size and a couple of interesting additions within the app.

Now, users can activate Mini Cards within the app, compressing a longer article into shorter snippets for easier consumption. The app has also been given a small visual renovation.

Google Hangouts

Finally, Google Hangouts has been updated, but the changes are so minimal they fit into the “bug fixes and performance improvements” category.

All of these updates are rolling out over the next few days, so don’t be worried if you don’t see them immediately. As always, Android Police houses the APKs for manual overwrites.

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