It seems like forever since we did our last teardown for Google Glass, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of things happening for the former Google[x] project. XE16 brought the first ever change in OS version, taking Glass from 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) all of the way to 4.4.2 (KitKat). A minor hotfix from build followed with an undisclosed set of changes and a minor bump in build number.
We learned yesterday that the Chromecast would finally make its grand entrance to our friends in the UK on March 19. While the recently finalized Google Cast SDK should leave them with plenty of ways to start using it right away, there's one app that definitely needed to take the plunge and add support: BBC's iPlayer. Well, it looks like the BBC had the same thought, because a recent update gives us solid evidence that Chromecast streaming is coming very soon.
Last week, Google rolled out a huge update to Google Play Books that included support for uploading PDF and EPUB files. When the latest update, version 3.1.23, began rolling out, we tested it and noticed that PDF uploading was removed. A quick look at the Play Store's description also shows clearly that it was taken out.
Additionally, a comparison of the 3.1.17 and 3.1.23 APKs revealed that the following line of code was removed:
<data android:host="*" android:mimeType="*/*" android:pathPattern=".*\\.pdf" android:scheme="file"/>
If you want to upload PDFs into your library, you can still do so via the web interface.
There's a new version of YouTube out, and as usual, hidden inside its chocolaty center are hints at upcoming features and capabilities. We've seen information about a lot of this stuff before, some of which has even been confirmed by Google itself. Aside from the user interface changes we mentioned in the announcement post, there are framework elements for the upcoming YouTube subscription service, "Uninterrupted Playback," an offline video mode, and background music listening.
I've been doing APK teardowns for a while now, and most of the time exciting updates end up being relatively boring under-the-hood, only rarely dropping really fascinating hints at future functionality. Today, I was pleasantly surprised, as the situation with YouTube 5.2.27 is exactly the opposite - the update itself couldn't be less boring, but the nugget we dig up inside will make a lot of you very happy.
So, without further ado, I'm glad to report that background audio should be finally coming to a YouTube app near you, if all goes well during testing.
Earlier this week, we posted the first look at the upcoming Android Play Store app v4.4. As it turns out, besides sporting a new look and a secret message to the teardown team, the updated Play Store is strongly hinting at another new arrival - one we've been waiting for since March. And now we have the updated name for it - Google Play Newsstand.
March 2013: Google Play News
But first, allow me to refresh your memory.
Now that the insane week of Google app updates has passed (gotta love those Rollout Wednesdays, right?), I've had some time to dig into the APKs and have found a number of interesting things in some of them.
We'll start with Gmail, which received a fairly significant Card UI update with version 4.6.
Ads are coming to Gmail
The most significant under-the-hood and probably not active yet addition to Gmail 4.6 is ads.
When Google launched the Android Device Manager in early August, I applauded the initiative because we finally got a much-needed security solution that was built into every Android devices that ships with Google's services. Rather, it was a good start, since the functionality was so limited: location, remote wipe, and alarm.
For the last two days, I've been digging around the new Google Play Services APK 3.2.64 that started rolling out to Android devices everywhere.
Earlier today, Google released a relatively minor update to its keyboard application with only one really useful change: numbers in the top row on tablets. While the update itself is indeed not too significant, it did manage to bring several interesting half-baked under-the-hood bits which aren't quite ready for consumption. These are exactly the kinds of bits we like here in the AndroidPolice teardown kitchen.
Armed with some of Ron's initial findings, my teardown partner Santiago Rosales and I dug into the innards of the v1.1 APK.