Lollipop 5.0 introduced sliding heads-up notifications instead of the scrolling status bar ticker that had been used on all Android versions prior. They showed up on top of your current screen for a few seconds, then went back into the notification tray. However, the function still seemed quite unfinished, with notifications blocking everything underneath them unless you completely got rid of them or waited for them to disappear. Lollipop 5.1 made it possible to dismiss notifications with a swipe up, sending them back to the tray so you can check them later. Read More
With Android 4.3, Android implemented the idea of always-on WiFi where, even if you had Wi-Fi toggled off, the device and apps could still scan for WiFi networks to improve the location's accuracy. Along with using network triangulation, it's another way of getting your current position as quickly as possible without having to rely too much on GPS signals.
Android M is taking the idea further, adding Bluetooth scanning to the equation. Under the Location settings on M, you'll find a Scanning option in the menu, where both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth scanning can be toggled on and off. Read More
Bluetooth Low Energy is the current preferred method of communication between multiple accessories and Android devices. I can count 4 objects on my body right now that connect to my phone through BLE, not to mention the various accessories strewn across my desk and in other locations around me. Each of these has its own app on my phone that connects to the device every now and then and retrieves data, which, you can easily guess, has a toll on the battery. Read More
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.