As evidence mounts that the official release of Android L may be days away, Google began rolling out yet another update to Play services, just one week after the previous update. As it turns out, there's a bit more than just a new icon, a few UI tweaks, and the usual bug fixes. This version brings some finishing touches to a couple of features, no doubt getting them ready to launch alongside the next version of Android.
Back in June, Google announced Android was destined to gain 64-bit support in the coming L release. A few weeks later, Revision 10 of the Native Development Kit (NDK) was posted with support for the three 64-bit architectures that would be able to run the new version of Android: arm64-v8a, x86_64, and mips64. As we close in on the official release of Android L, Google has updated the NDK to revision 10b and added an emulator image developers can use to prepare their apps to run on devices built with Intel's 64-bit chips.
Back at Google I/O 2014, we learned about a pretty neat feature called Backdrop that gives your Chromecast a little more pizazz with localized weather, news, and photos. It turned out to be a bit of a tease, because Google waited until earlier today to actually enable it through an update to the Chromecast app for our phones. During the same presentation, another feature called "Guest Mode" was announced promising to allow visitors to cast from their devices to a Chromecast in the same room without being on the same Wi-Fi network.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Excitement over products like the Ouya, nVidia's Shield line, and even numerous gamepads proves that gaming on Android has entered the mainstream. Developers have been jumping at the opportunity to build games that work across many of the different operating systems; and thanks to the Cross-Platform SDK, they're able to integrate most of the Play Games services into their products on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Until now, this SDK has lagged behind the SDKs for Android and iOS on one specific feature: real-time multiplayer support.
Material Design was the driving force behind a Google+ update that began rolling out on Friday. But while there may be a newer look, there's very little to speak of in the department of functional changes. Naturally, I had to poke around to see if there were any surprises buried underneath the fresh coat of paint. As it turns out, there are a few things worth talking about. It's time for a Teardown!
If you practically live out of your car like I do, there are probably cables loosely hanging from just about every outlet, and at least a couple awkwardly laying across the passenger seat. Even if you're not sporting a ride with a Bluetooth-enabled stereo, you can get rid of at least one cable by adding your own car kit to the mix. You could already get the GOgroove SMARTmini AUX Bluetooth Audio Receiver Car Kit for just $24.99 from Amazon, but now you can also knock another $5 off with a coupon code at checkout.
Google is making the best of allowing enthusiasts and 3rd-party developers early access to the next release of Android, and the result will be a less buggy release when L finally hits the grand stage. While new issues are reported each day, there's a lot of progress showing up on the Issue Tracker. Just yesterday, a burst of 18 bugs were marked as 'fixed,' following a 2-week gap without any obvious activity.
Camping season is pretty much over for most of us, but that doesn't mean we've stopped leaving the comfort of our homes to venture into the great unknown. One thing we've got to be sure of is that our bevy of gadgets can survive between sessions with their charging cables. If you'd like to keep your phone, tablet, and assorted wearables alive and kicking, Amazon is offering a pretty sweet deal on the Anker Astro E5 15000mAh Dual USB Portable Charger.
If there's one thing that Amazon has earned a positive reputation for among Android users, it has got to be the sheer number of paid apps that have been freely passed out as part of the company's numerous promotions. For today only, we've got another great giveaway to add to the online retailer's extensive history. There are 27 paid apps available at no cost
to users in the US, and there's no reason you shouldn't have already started claiming them!