While Android Lollipop added a flashlight toggle into Quick Settings, circumventing most third-party torch apps, the function was only accessible in the notification drop-down and as an on/off switch. If you wanted to use the flashlight with morse code, for signaling, or other patterns, you still had to use a separate application and developers of said apps didn't have any clear API to build their software on. They had to hack together solutions for various phones, relying on whatever way the different OEMs had created to access the camera's flash. Read More
Google Smart Lock is one of the most practically useful features that have come out of the slew of announcements at I/O this year — allowing your device to associate your usernames and passwords for various apps and Chrome sites with your Google account so that you don't need to even bother with logging in when you want to use them.
Among Smart Lock's launch partners is Netflix, and the app's listing on the Play Store has been updated to include this functionality. Read More
What everyone thought was an innocent little experiment from Google during last year's I/O has turned into a full-on Virtual Reality venture from the company. Cardboard, a piece of actual cardboard that you fold and insert your phone in for a make-shift low-cost VR display, has been getting more focus and momentum over the past year with 500 compatible apps and over 1 million viewers sold or given away. That rise culminated with a few announcements at yesterday's I/O keynote. Read More
We're still weeding through the fantasmagoric dump of announcements, features, and all the new things that Google has gifted us with yesterday during its I/O keynote, and we now reach the company's push for a unified and improved Internet of Things ecosystem. It was only a week ago that we heard rumors of this new venture, which seems to be a rethought [email protected] initiative that is adapted for broader purposes, and it's now official.
There are two pillars to Google's new ecosystem: Brillo and Weave. Read More
There's a minor change to the way Android M implements the lock screen. Instead of the camera and phone shortcuts, you have camera and voice search. Voice Search is accessed by swiping from the lower left corner where you now have a mic icon.
One of Google's big projects for Android M is battery optimization. It's doing this by implementing a new Doze mode that puts unneeded apps into an ultra low-power state that keeps them from doing too much in the background. While this should all work smoothly on its own, it turns out you can go into the settings and fiddle with things.
Among all the interesting tweaks to Android M, the new Google Now on Tap feature has the potential to be the most revolutionary. We won't know for sure until later, though. Google doesn't plan to make this feature fully functional until Android M is officially released.
Buried in the newly-located Google settings is a curious area called "Smart Lock Passwords." While it doesn't make its function very clear, once you try to sign in with one of the supported apps, it gets much more obvious. Take, for instance, Netflix, one of this feature's launch partners. After signing in as you would normally, Smart Lock will ask if you'd like to store your password for future use.
Now, at this point, you haven't really seen the fun part. Storing passwords is one thing, but making them useful is another. To demonstrate, I uninstalled the Netflix app and then opened it for the first time. Read More
Last year's Android L preview changed little between its I/O announcement and Lollipop's November release. This will apparently not be the case with Android M—Google expects to push an OTA update to the developer preview about once per month until M is done.