Since the launch of Android 5.0 last month, the sheer number of app updates has been magnificent – and downright overwhelming. Believe it or not, most of the new versions haven't done much more than add Lollipop support and splash a fresh coat of Materialized paint on the UIs. Seriously, we've been checking. This isn't entirely a bad thing, as it's giving me time to work on some other projects...
Google is keeping a tight grip on Android as it expands the operating system out to watches, TVs, and automobiles. To understand this, take a look at the existing Wear watches on the market. Aside from shape and specs, the software experience is the same across devices. This may change in the future. A Google executive has told Re/code that the company plans to loosen its restrictions over time.
Though Google officially announced Android Auto back at Google I/O, we didn't get to see much of the car initiative at the show itself. A recent update to the Developer.Android.com page shows off a lot more of the system, primarily in how the usual Android apps on a phone interact with a dash unit in a car or truck. The updated page includes screenshots of the app launcher (such as it is), Google Play Music, and some basic menus.
Yesterday, Android Police was in San Jose checking out some nifty things at NVIDIA's 2013 GPU Technology Conference. At one of the events, the Tegra team showed off a few prototypes of automotive dashboards they're hoping to put into cars of the future.
The HMI (Human Machine Interaction) toolkit NVIDIA is developing, called UI Composer, is universal in the sense that it can run on top of Android, Linux, Windows RT, and probably other operating systems.
If your Android device relies on your interaction with it in order to do things, you're seriously missing out. There are several options that allow you to cut the cord, so to speak. The popular options have long been Locale and Tasker but, as you can see from their market pages, you have to be fiscally dedicated to the tasks they perform. In addition to that, these applications (Tasker especially) can be somewhat (read extremely) intimidating in the level of control they give you and the sheer volume of options at your disposal.
I'm not really sure how we missed this app when it was released way back in July, because it's damn cool. A company called Directed Electronics produces an automotive remote start kit that's called Viper SmartStart, and the kicker: it's controlled via smartphones. The app was available on iOS and BlackBerry for some time before being released for Android in July, and it's some pretty neat kit - check out the video (sorry, it won't embed because it's unlisted).
Asteroid is a voice-activated, Android-powered car deck that replaces your existing single DIN car stereo. It has a small non-touch 3.2" color screen, runs on a specialized version of Android (the presenter didn't seem to know which Android version it was based on exactly), is capable of running custom Android apps (SDK for which is coming out later), and can accept a variety of inputs, such as your iPhone, iPod, USB storage, SD card (the left half detaches to reveal the SD slot), Bluetooth, 3.5mm jack, 3G and GPS dongles, and AM/FM/RDS.
I was browsing the Android commit tree, as I like to do at 3:20am sometimes, and I just saw a new commit by Tor Norbye with the following description that made my heart skip a beat: "Add autoformatting of XML." This little update may not mean much to the regular folks, but to Android developers, like myself, this has been a long requested feature.
About a year ago, I wrote this article: Auto Formatting Android XML Files With Eclipse, which described how easy it is to achieve uniform, formatted XML files in Eclipse while doing Android development.