Next month will be the two-year anniversary of Gmail becoming the most widely used email service on the planet. While it remains the uncontested champion, the Gmail app for Android struck its own accomplishment last week as it became the first conventional app in the Play Store to reach 1 billion downloads. Technically, the Google Play services package crossed the same mark back in January, but it is automatically installed on any device equipped with the Play Store and running Android 2.2 or higher.
Just minutes ago we posted about the discovery of an Android 4.4.3 changelog in AOSP and we've already found some interesting information. Among the individual project repositories, there are a few dedicated to Google-supported devices, mostly those in the Nexus family. In particular, we came across new references to an HTC device codenamed "Flounder," and another device belonging to Google with the name "Molly." This is the first time that these names have appeared in AOSP.
With most versions of Android, we're not used to seeing a changelog until a few hours after the AOSP code has been fully uploaded and somebody has had time to generate a comprehensive list. Imagine our surprise when such a list for KitKat 4.4.3 was discovered simply lying around on Google's servers. The file, named KK-MR2_changelist.txt, is located amidst Android's platform documentation. This is something of a first, since we'll actually learn about what's to come before the code is even available.
There should be no doubt, Google is getting ready to make a lot of announcements at I/O. If we've learned anything from past experiences, Google starts packing its apps full of surprises in the weeks leading up to the big show. The latest update to Play Services started rolling out yesterday and it has grown by a whopping 4 MB, almost 30% larger than the previous version. There's obviously a lot of stuff to look at, so let's just jump right in.
Google has begun rolling out an update to the Play Services package we all know and love. Details about version 4.4 have already been posted to the Android Developers blog, and it features updates and new features to the APIs for Maps, Mobile Ads, Activity Recognition, plus a few minor fixes for Games Services and Wallet. Aside from general bug fixes, it looks like this update is mostly about giving new tools to developers.
When it comes to publishers, few names stand out in the technical world like O'Reilly. With literally thousands of books and videos, there are topics ranging from Programming to Business, and Fitness to Photography. Not only does O'Reilly print under its own name, but it also owns several other brands including: Wiley, Packt Publishing, No Starch Press, and more. Almost every developer probably has a small stack of books with the trademark line-drawn animals on the covers.
Google continues its monthly ritual of posting platform distribution numbers for Android. After getting a fairly late start, KitKat is keeping up its suddenly explosive pace by adding 3.2% to last month's 5.3%. This is largely due to a continual stream of updates to the Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 3.
The increase in KitKat's presence came at the expense of almost every older version of Android except for Jelly Bean 4.2, which actually rose 0.7%.
The latest version of Google Search rolled out yesterday with a couple of pretty great new features. We already know that 3.4 offers a new parking reminder, mall directories, and the start of voice commands for system settings. But there are still a few secrets worth exploring, so let's get to it!
See Your Friend's Photos
The content of Google Now tends to focus heavily on your current or future location, and as a close second, it tries to be helpful with reminders about TV shows and events.
If you've been patiently waiting for carrier billing to come to your cell carrier, today might be your lucky day. Customers of Starhub in Singapore and A1 in Austria should now be able to charge app and content purchases from the the Play Store directly to their cellular accounts. A1 is the first carrier in Austria to support the feature, and Starhub is the second in Singapore.