Google's approach to releasing preview firmware for upcoming versions of Android is evolving into a pretty cool system that allows developers to simply sign up a device and wait for the OTAs to come rolling in. However, no product launch is perfect, and this one is causing some real problems for some users. Complaints started rolling into the Nexus Help Form and AOSP Issue Tracker about devices that were left unable to boot after attempting to install the OTA. This problem is greatly compounded by the fact that many users are not able to unlock their bootloaders, which means they can't fix the issue with a factory image. Read More
BBC iPlayer is Internet streaming's gift to the UK. The service is packed to the brim with British TV shows and documentaries, and the Android app offers a nice way to consume as much as you can.
And while you're at it, now you can get a taste of upcoming features as well. The BBC has launched an official beta testing program in the Play Store. It's open to anyone with a Google account and an Android device, as long as they live in the UK. Read More
Following VLC on Android over the last couple of months has felt a little bit like a shell game. It all started in December when VideoLAN declared VLC was finally leaving behind its Beta status. The app retained the same package name, org.videolan.vlc.betav7neon, but was to be considered stable. Earlier this month, a brand new version 1.0 VLC app appeared in the Play Store with a package name and title devoid of the word 'beta.' This new app was to become the channel for stable releases, while the original listing was again repurposed for beta releases. This only lasted a few days before the new version vanished from the Play Store on devices and ceased to be installable from the web, at least for many of us. Read More
The Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth-enabled door lock lets owners unlock a door just by tapping a finger against it, as long as their phones are in range. It's a cool piece of tech, something we reported on over a year ago when it first hit the market. Android compatibility was in the works, but a few roadblocks popped up along the way.
The primary issue centered around Android's lack of proper support for Bluetooth Smart. To explain the situation briefly, Bluetooth Smart has two roles: Central and Peripheral. With the release of KitKat, Android gained support for the necessary Central role, but it's only with the release of Lollipop that it can handle Peripheral as well. Read More
Let's be clear about this: developers don't have any kind of obligation to update their apps for the Android L preview release. It's a preview - by definition, it's not ready for prime time, and developers shouldn't have to immediately treat it like consumer software. That said, it's nice to see that some have already begun to prepare for the full Android L release later this year. Even relatively large players like Twitter are getting in on the action.
The primary Twitter app available on the Play Store is currently crashing when installed on Android L preview releases. But the beta build, available via the Google Groups program, has been given a speedy update just a few days after the release of Android L at Google I/O. Read More
Pebble fans have been faithfully following each step of the breakout smartwatch since it set almost every Kickstarter record ever. While most of the big news has died down, that doesn't mean the development team is on a break. To speed up the process of getting new features and bug fixes out to eager users, Pebble is opening up an official beta channel through the Play Store. These betas are technically for the Pebble companion app, but since the app also installs firmware updates on the watch, it's likely that you'll be able to get in on all of the new features. Read More
CCleaner has knocked the filth and grime out of many a Windows machine, along with a few Mac ones, over the years. Now the program's coming to Android. A stable release isn't yet out, but developer Piriform has introduced a beta and is calling on eager testers to help it work out the kinks. How? By joining the company's new Google+ beta testing community. Afterwards, you should be able to download the app from the Play Store.
Newer Android devices do a good job of running smoothly on their own, but that doesn't mean cruft doesn't build up around the edges over time. Read More
Today Minecraft developer Mojang is launching a beta program for the Pocket Edition of its absurdly popular sandbox game. Anyone who purchased Minecraft on an Android device via Google Play is eligible to join. This will give you early access to new, experimental features before anyone else and allow you to provide feedback that could impact future versions of the title.
To enter the beta program, interested players simply need to request to join the Minecraft Pocket Edition Test Group on Google+. Once inside, they will be provided with instructions, but there is one caveat to keep in mind. Beta users will still be updated to the final version of Minecraft, and any worlds they create will work just fine with the final release. Read More