Every power user has a favorite file manager. It doesn't matter how many are installed or why, there is always one that takes the lead position. Of course, as new features become popular, it's not uncommon for people to switch out their favorite app to pull up one that offers whatever they need. The new must-have among file managers is support for writing to the SD card on Android 5.0 Lollipop.
A brand new version of Google+ began rolling out to Android users yesterday, but it didn't initially appear to do much more than tweak a few layouts and change the colors to something more theme-appropriate. During the initial teardown, we also stumbled onto the newly expanded Pinning feature, but Google beat us to the punch. Of course, since the feature is on a staged rollout to users, plenty of people won't see that quite yet.
Update Wednesday has begun! We're starting off with a pretty small bump for Google Play Games, taking it from v2.1 to v2.2. There aren't any big new features, but a few things have been polished up.
Like so many other Google apps, the first-run experience has been updated with a short introduction to explain what the app does and the value users can expect to get from it. Of course, this generally won't show up if Games has been in active use already.
Android has gone through quite a few changes during its short 6 years of life. The Android that drives most of the world's smartphones of today would be almost unrecognizable to what was launched in late 2008. We've seen massive visual changes, expansion to almost every conceivable form factor, and a completely fleshed-out content ecosystem for multimedia and apps. As the operating system matured, some elements have successfully grown with it, and others have become dead weight.
Since the recent update to MX Player, many users are running into a new problem: there's no sound in certain videos. It turns out the latest release of the popular video player removed support for two audio codecs: AC3 and MLP. Unfortunately, it seems this is a result of licensing issues, meaning MX Player will no longer ship with built-in support to play these audio formats. However, there is a simple workaround that will get things working again with relatively little hassle.
People regularly rely on Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to hide their activities from nosy governments, circumvent geographically restricted and region-locked services, and increase security on untrusted Wi-Fi networks. But the big problem with piping your communications through a secure digital tunnel is that it's an all-or-nothing deal – web browsing, IM chats, and email are all going over the wire to the same place. That can become a really serious issue for people that use an employer's VPN for work.
It's been almost exactly 18 months since it was announced at I/O 2013, but Android Studio has finally hit version 1.0. Well, almost. This is a release candidate, so it's pretty close to what will become the first official stable release. For this release, the Android Tools team has been focusing on getting the bugs fixed and improving stability, but there are a couple of notable changes, as well.
Left: old splash screen, Right: new splash screen.
Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects...
It's not unusual to see slightly customized builds of Android rolling out to Nexus devices shortly after the release of a new version. It certainly happened a few times with KitKat, and it looks like Lollipop is on track to do the same. As the rush of factory images and OTAs roll out, AOSP is also receiving commits for the new device-specific builds; and Al Sutton was quick to put out changelogs for each version.
We've all seen it happen. A great technology, service, or platform comes out, but without a solid base of users and apps, it fails to gain traction. Google wants to see the Fit API work out, and developers have been called upon to help make that happen. If you know how to write an Android app, and you've got a great idea for something that will get people off the couch and into the gym, you're invited to join the Google Fit Developer Challenge.