Android N Developer Preview 4 is out and it marks a very important milestone in Google's release schedule: the API for the next version of Android is officially final and developers can begin posting apps built for it to the Play Store. In fact, this is a first for Android, never before have developers been able to post apps to the Play Store targeting a preview version of Android. Users can now look forward to trying out 3rd-party apps that target Android N without jumping through hoops with individual APKs.
You can now publish apps that use API level 24 to Google Play, in alpha, beta, and production release channels.
Square, the company that makes those little headphone jack credit card readers, would like you to use their services more. Of course they would - that's kind of the whole point of commerce. But at the moment merchants using Square are limited to the dedicated Square app, which by default is a sort of digital cash register. The company is hoping to expand itself a bit with its latest API, which allows developers to integrate Square payments into their independent Android apps. Read More
With Google's annual developer conference going on, the company is pumping out news about developing things. Makes sense, I guess.
Google's online office suite is not going untouched. The company is pushing new APIs that allow app makers to integrate more closely with Sheets and Slides. Read More
There's some great news for anyone using CyanogenMod. A long-existing bug that prevented users of the hugely popular ROM from displaying their screen on the Google Chromecast has finally been squashed. The problem is present in applications that use the Chromecast Remote Display API. On devices running CyanogenMod, instead of the intended content, users would see a solidly black screen. This issue is limited to CyanogenMod and its derivatives.
In addition to a handful of stock Google applications, like Google Photos, many third-party apps have been bitten by this bug. One of these is Cast-A-Draw, which is a Chromecast-oriented word guessing-game. Read More
Android's rapid rise to the top of the mobile market was accompanied by a number of legal battles, and perhaps none of them was so central and so contentious as Oracle versus Google. The fight over the legality of patents and copyrights in some of the portions of Android that used allegedly proprietary Oracle-owned Java software has been raging since 2010, eventually being considered for review by the US Supreme Court before being bounced back to the lower appeals court. The fight was a constant, and sometimes dramatic, part of legal software news at one point.
Apparently Google is as tired of dealing with the legal headache as we are of writing about it, because the company has confirmed that Android will do away with the remaining Java APIs starting with Android N, which will probably be released sometime in 2016. Read More
Unless you regularly develop video games or other visually-intensive programs, you probably don't know what Vulkan is. That's OK. But if you are in the habit of developing visually complex apps for Android, the news that Google plans to support the Vulkan API is a big deal indeed. And it looks like the company intends to jump into the Vulkan pool with both feet: Google has just hired an entire team of dedicated Vulkan developers and folded them into the Android team.
Here's the gist: Vulkan is a cross-platform, low-overhead graphics API created by a consortium called Khronos (get it?). The advantage of Vulkan over other standards is that it gives developers direct access to GPU hardware, allowing a game to manually manage things like GPU cores and memory. Read More
Floating apps have become emblematic of Android's unique flexibility and range. No other mobile OS allows non-system apps to directly interact with users and overtake the screen while another app is supposed to be in the foreground. This capability allows for a powerful and customizable user experience, but it can also quickly become a problem if an app is poorly implemented or its developer abuses this privilege for malicious purposes.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow is setting some new rules for drawing on the screen. Starting with Developer Preview 3, apps targeting API 23 (or above) will have to ask users to grant permission for them to draw on top of other apps. Read More