Android Lollipop introduced screen pinning: a way for you to lock your device into one app until a specific shortcut was tapped to take you out of it and let you switch to something else.
In Lollipop, a screen is pinned by going to Recents and tapping the green pin button at the bottom right of any app card, and it is unpinned in one of two ways: short tapping Recents and Back simultaneously if no Accessibility service is enabled in your Settings at all, or long tapping Recents if at least one Accessibility service is switched on. That created several problems:
- the confusion over which shortcut to use depending on whether you have some Accessibility service enabled,
- the automatic switch to Recents each time you unpinned (you were pressing Recents after all...), which meant that you had to tap the app again to go back to using it,
- and more recently, the conflict with Multi-Window on N, which requires the same long-tap on Recents action to get triggered.
Developers, we know you work hard on your apps. So does Google. But they also know that sometimes it's hard to make apps easy to use when you're elbow deep in their design. To that end, the new Accessibility Scanner app allows you to check other apps for potential problems or possible improvements in terms of accessibility. It's a free download in the Play Store, but at the moment it looks like it's limited to Android 6.0 devices. Read More
With the unveiling of the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, we knew that cellular and speaker capabilities were coming to Android Wear. Yesterday, Google officially announced cellular support and explained how the feature will let you use your watch without being near a phone. However, missing from that post were details about whether or not the watch will communicate back to you using its speaker and whether other watches with speakers will also be able to do the same.
Cody's teardowns of various Google apps yesterday revealed the underlying basis for speaker support on Android Wear. We know that Play Music will likely let you play music through the speaker and Google's app is ready to implement text-to-speech. But it turns out that Google has already revealed a bit more about speaker functionality on new watches, except it hid it in its Support pages. Read More
Every couple of months the members of the exclusive billion installs club have to roll out the red carpet as they introduce another app into their ranks. This time, they're welcoming two. The likes of Gmail, Facebook, and WhatsApp now have to say hi to Play Games and Talkback.
Play Games (which only launched in 2013) isn't as old as other Play apps such as Music, Movies, and Newsstand —but that hasn't stopped it from beating all three to the one billion installs mark. Now, before anyone gets too excited, that doesn't mean a billion people have all gone out of their way to install the app. Read More
BIG Launcher takes a smartphone's core functionality and crams it into an interface that's easier on senior citizens and other people with vision problems. BIG Notifications, a new app from the same developer, gives a phone's notifications the same treatment.
While BIG Launcher is simply a homescreen replacement, BIG Notifications doesn't seamlessly replace your notification shade. Instead, the app creates a copy that's written in a bigger font, which you can access through a persistent notification.
The app performs its primary task for free, but you can unlock the full set of features through a $2 in-app purchase. Paid options include TalkBack screen reader support, the ability to adjust the size of text, choice to password protect the app, and more. Read More
Perhaps you don't wander into the Android accessibility settings very much, but some users will be very happy to see what's going on in this menu as of the L release. Literally, they will be happy to see it. Android L has support for color inversion and correction for color blindness.
If a speaker, vibration motor, and an on-device notification light aren't enough to grab your attention when a new message comes to your phone, you need a more extreme option. The developer of HueNotifier Beta has provided one: an impressive sync between any Android 4.0+ device and Philips' range of Hue connected LED lightbulbs. After installing the app and setting it up, new notifications from any app can be assigned to pulsate the light bulb or bulbs in any available color.
The app is pretty basic at the moment, but seems to have all of its bases covered, with easy setup and quick modifications. Read More
Last week we told you about Pebble Notifier, an app that allows Tasker to send updates to the Pebble smartwatch over Bluetooth. Developer Dattas Moonchaser has updated the plugin to a full, independent app: you no longer need Tasker to send updates to your watch. (You'll still need the official Pebble app.) As you probably know, while Tasker is an incredibly powerful piece of software, it's also very difficult to learn and master, so the update should make it useful for a larger percentage of Pebble owners.
Even better, the app can selectively include or exclude apps from its "watched" list, a great help to anyone who was inundated with relatively useless updates when they tried it out. Read More
We love Tasker. And we mostly love the Pebble Smartwatch. But there's no denying that the utility of the Pebble is somewhat limited - right now you get calls, emails, texts, Facebook, and a few more remote notifications. With the Pebble Notifier plugin for Tasker, the Swiss Army knife of Android apps can send alerts for anything and everything happening on your phone. It may be the single most useful thing that could happen to Pebble.
Naturally, the official Pebble app is necessary to make use of the bridge, and the Tasker accessibility service needs to be enabled. (Settings>Accessibility>Set Tasker to "On.") Developer Dattas Moonchaser (yes, really, we couldn't make that up) has kindly released the plugin free of charge, along with the source code and a few basic Tasker profiles. Read More