Developers have certainly made great use of the Alpha and Beta distribution channels in the Play Store since they became available last summer. There was one glaring oversight: developers could only write a single block of text for the "What's New" section. This often led to changelogs that left beta testers in the dark about changes or confusing regular users with promises of new features and fixes that hadn't yet materialized in the stable channel.
Welcome to the latest entry in our Bonus Round series, wherein we tell you all about the new Android games of the day that we couldn't get to during our regular news rounds. Consider this a quick update for the dedicated gamers who can't wait for our bi-weekly roundups, and don't want to wade through a whole day's worth of news just to get their pixelated fix. Today we've got an impressive Castlevania-style sidescroller, a destruction physics game, and a Rube Goldberg puzzler.
We've received an early look at an upcoming version of Facebook that introduces a brand new, flat UI. This is a change that competing social networks like Twitter and Pinterest made a long time ago, and given the direction Android, iOS, and Windows Phone have all moved in, it only makes sense. When considering Facebook Messenger's recent redesign, it's even less surprising. Yet this is pre-release software, so there's a decent chance none of these changes will make it into the stable version.
The popular invite-only contextual launcher Aviate upgraded today from Alpha to Beta. It's still invite-only, but it's definitely worth looking at, as one of the most powerful alpha products I've ever used just got even better. (Did I mention we have an invite code good for 500 invites later in the post?)
The team behind Aviate promises that, besides new features, the beta launch means that the full wait list of users will be brought on board, with all users getting five invite codes to dole out to friends.
For a very long time, the Facebook app on Android was atrocious, and it's still not great. The folks at Facebook are trying, though. After starting a Play Store beta program not long ago, the social network is now setting up an alpha channel to test the newest (and potentially most unstable) features. Want in?
The alpha program will be run in a very similar way to the beta program. You'll have to sign up for the Play Store testing program and the app will update as new builds are released.
Aviate Launcher, if you haven't heard of it, is a new home screen replacement that looks to offer you information right when you need it and which is, at the time of writing, in the middle of an invite-only alpha period.
After receiving my invitation recently, I was anxious to take the launcher for a spin. I have no doubt it will improve as it progresses toward a broad launch, and there are a few drawbacks, but it is already one of the best alpha products I've ever used.
Between Hangouts, the gorgeous new Maps, Play Music All Access, and everything else discussed in I/O's opening keynote this morning, several revisions to the Play Store developer's console were announced.
Perhaps the most interesting addition to the console will be an organized method for alpha and beta testing, and staged rollouts. Basically, developers can select alpha and beta testers, receiving all feedback directly (instead of through reviews) and, when the time comes, roll out the app to certain percentages of the user base.
Oh, Chameleon launcher. There has been no shortage of you on Android Police. Yet here you are once again, resting comfortably in our spotlight.
I know, I know – many of you are tired of hearing about Chameleon. But this time it's different. Very different. You see, Teknision – the dev team behind Chameleon – is finally showing off the illusive phone launcher. A few weeks ago, they called out to the community for some alpha testers – 25 to be exact.
Vito Cassisi, the developer behind a piece of software that could potentially revolutionize the way Android users switch between apps, updated Switcher today.
Working on the principle that swiping gestures are naturally more satisfying (from a UX standpoint) than press-and-wait actions (a la Android's multitasking button), Switcher's functionality is entirely based on the utilization of universal swipe gestures to switch between running apps (or all apps).
According to the developer, the concept was first imagined when studying on the train, desperately wishing for a way to switch between notes and web that was faster than using home or back buttons.
CyanogenMod 9 may still be a ways out, lending some credence to the claim that upgrading from Gingerbread to ICS is a very long endeavor. However, if you're willing to live your life on the bleeding edge, and you own an international Galaxy S III variant, then the time is right for you: CM9 nightlies are now available for your device.
This is, of course, still an early build, so expect some bugs along the way.