Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
15
Aug
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Maps 7.1 is slowly rolling out into the world. Google is making this teardown particularly difficult, because they haven't even gotten around to releasing a change log yet - it's up to me to come up with something. First though, we need to cover the good stuff that most definitely won't be in the change log, because this has me excited:

3D Buildings!

Remember when I found a "3D" button allll the way back in version 6.12?

14
Aug
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So, there's this extremely minor Google Music update floating around in the "rollout" ether that will take you from 5.1.1107K to 5.1.1109K. I poked around in it and found a few boring changes related to Chromecasting, but the "new feature" that some people will really notice is the removal of the SD card hack we told you about last month. 

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That's right, update to 1109; lose a feature. They basically killed the little activities shortcut that allowed you to set the option, and removed the SD card preference from the settings storage.

14
Aug
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Yet another Google Glass update means yet another Google Glass Teardown - we're now up to version "XE8." Despite Glass being a complete nightmare to do diff work on (every file is in every APK), and the highly experimental nature of Glass (stuff gets removed all the time), Glass teardowns have actually had a pretty good hit rate.

Google Hangouts Chat

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Finally. A feature I've wanted since the first day I opened Google Glass: Google Hangouts support.

07
Aug
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Chromecast is one of the slicker devices to come out of Google HQ in a while. After you're all set up, just tap a button on YouTube or Netflix, and BAM, whatever you were watching is now on your television. It's really awesome.

For the researchy-types like me, the Chromecast comes with two piece of software to dig through. The first is the physical device software, which, while it is sort-of Android based, it's only Android-based at the low level.

25
Jul
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Super ultra mega HD resolution support is coming to a robot-themed OS near you, but before we get into that, let's talk about Android and DPI.

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Android devices come in tons of different resolutions, everything from a tiny 128x128 watch screen to the massive 2560x1600 resolution of the Nexus 10. Higher resolution screens need higher resolution apps with higher resolution image files. It doesn't make sense to serve up super-high resolution assets to low resolutions screens, so to make sure the right screens get the right size files, Android has several generalized DPI categories for image assets.

25
Jul
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Android 4.3 has a hidden feature! It's called "App Ops" and it lets you selectively disable some permissions for your apps. Is some misbehaving app constantly pinging your location and draining your battery in a few hours? You can fix that now.

Update! Optional permissions at install

I'm working on my full 4.3 teardown, but I just ran across this and had to add it here:

<string name="grant_confirm_question">Do you want to grant the following permissions?

23
Jul
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Google jumped the gun just a little bit and shipped tomorrow's version of Google Music today, which means we've got about 12 hours to spoil even more of the surprises Google has in store for us at their "Breakfast with Sundar Pichai" event. Let's get to it.

Chromecast

Music ships with all sorts of support for something called "Chromecast." It's basically Google's version of Airplay. Check this out:

<string name="error_start_session_failed">Unable to start a session with the Chromecast device.</string>
<string name="error_session_ended">Lost connectivity with the Chromecast device.</string>
<string name="error_ramp_command_failed">Failed to control the media.</string>
<string name="error_no_session">Not currently connected to the Chromecast device.</string>

Connect to a remote device, and start playing media!

17
Jul
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You might not have noticed, but a fresh version of Google Play Services started silently rolling out a few days ago. Google I/O came and went without an Android version bump because Google wanted to send a message: Google Play Services is the single most important APK on your device. It was recently used to roll out Google Play Games, cloud app data storage, and the fused location provider.

01
Jul
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I totally missed this in my Android 4.3 teardown, but luckily there are some fellow tinkerers out there, namely Kevin of TeslaCoil Software (maker of fine products such as Nova Launcher and WidgetLocker), picking up my slack. It looks like Google is planning some cool notification services for 4.3, possibly something that gets third party apps into the mix!

Contained in the leaked S4 Android 4.3 build are all sorts of notification-related changes.

29
Jun
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Wow. Out of the blue, an Android 4.3 rom hits the internet, and it's not built for the Nexus 4, or 7 or 10, but for the Samsung Galaxy S4. What a strange turn of events.

Of course, I couldn't stop myself from diving right in, and while I don't have a Galaxy S4 to show you screenshots, that's really not a big deal, because this leak pretty much looks identically to 4.2.

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