In a rare (and very amusing) fireside chat between Matias Duarte and Joshua Topolsky, we heard that I/O 2014 might put significantly more attention on great design as a topic. Today, a post on Google's Developer Blog is here to back up that declaration and adds that there will be sessions and workshops geared for designers and developers interested in improving their products. While there still hasn't been an official session list posted, this is surely meant to encourage designers to apply for registration before the window closes on Friday.
Earlier today, Google released a dedicated camera app into the Play Store. This would have been news on its own, as this method of distribution allows for camera updates without having to wait for a new firmware to come along. But the goodies didn't stop there. Google has completely redesigned the app, and while your opinion may vary, here's mine - it's better.
Why, You Ask?
For starters, there's a new lens blur effect that I've already elaborated on in great detail.
Google released the Chrome Remote Desktop extension a while back, but it was designed for use with other computers. That's fine if you have one handy, but your phone or tablet is probably more readily available. I know that 95% of my remote desktop access happens from a mobile device, so it makes sense that Google would have a Chrome Remote Desktop app for Android – it just took a long time to happen.
Along with two new apps, today's Update Wednesday has brought us a new version of YouTube with version 5.6.31. The previous version was 5.5.27, so it became clear right away that we should expect something relatively significant as opposed to simple bug fixes. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disappoint those of you still waiting for offline and screen-off playback - those are not here just yet. There are no major UI changes either.
Cyanogen, Inc. has been adding staff to its small but growing roster at a steady pace ever since the company had its big coming out party. And like its initial team, a lot of them have come from the Android modding and ROM community. Cyanogen's latest hire might be familiar to some of you: François Simond, better known online as "Supercurio." Mr. Simond was kind enough to let us break the news, and also pick his brain on topics like CyanogenMod, audio and video calibration, and mobile computing in general.
Photo Sphere product manager Evan Rapoport, who also manages Maps, Street View, Views, and Panoramio, had one more tidbit of Google Camera-related news to convey today. In a post to Google+, Rapoport announced that photo spheres had gotten a major boost to 50MP (about 11776x5884 pixels). This is up from around 8MP in the previous app, and the results are beautiful.
Most of the time, we execute APK teardowns by comparing the code of older app versions to an updated version. Newly released apps can hold juicy information too, though. We've quickly taken apart Google's newly released camera app and discovered a few tidbits worth mentioning.
Our primary target for this teardown is the strings file. This file holds a wealth of strings not yet revealed in the interface that look like they'll bring missing features back and add some new ones, too.
In case you missed it, Google just released an official Camera app into the Play Store. It isn't exclusive to Nexus or Google Play devices either, so go ahead and download it. I'll wait.
Alright, let's dive into the app's new Lens Blur feature. Google's released a blog post with some of the details. In short, it's one of the features of HTC One M8's duo camera made available to any Android device running Android 4.4.
Google is simply on a roll today! As it turns out, the stock camera wasn't the only new app to hit the Play Store today - we now have the Chromoting app as well. Chromoting, for those unfamiliar with it, is a way to securely access your computer remotely by connecting to Chrome running a special Chrome Remote Desktop app. Anyone familiar with Remote Desktop, VNC, and other similar apps should feel instantly at home with Chromoting.