Sometimes the smallest changes can make for the best improvements. The latest update to Chrome Dev for Android scored some points with us earlier for expanding theme color support for users that don't care for merging their tabs with apps, but that wasn't the only cool enhancement that came along. Users can now look forward to seeing a snackbar open up each time a download completes. The handy widget shows both the name of the downloaded file and a button to open it.
Left: The new snackbar in action. Right: Snackbar on Dev Preview 3 missing the open button.
In earlier versions of Chrome, all download operations appeared only as an animated notification. Read More
In version 39, Chrome for Android learned an awesome trick: using a simple HTML tag, any webpage could tell Chrome to theme its UI (and your device's status bar) with a specified color. The downside to this feature was that it only worked if tabs and apps were "merged," meaning your Chrome tabs would show up inline with your recent apps, rather than relying on Chrome's own in-app tab switcher.
Today, a Chrome for Android developer at Google let Reddit know that the theme-color attribute will soon make Chrome snazzy even if you don't have tabs and apps merged. Right now the flag (chrome://flags/#enable-theme-color-in-tabbed-mode) will only work in Chrome Dev 47.0.2516.0 (available from the Play Store or APK Mirror), and support isn't complete yet - the flag won't allow Chrome to theme your status bar and swiping across the toolbar to switch tabs is a little glitchy, for instance. Read More
One year on, Google's material design philosophy is still picking up steam. As popular as it's become in the community though, there are still some holes left to fill in terms of implementation.
Until now, developers have had to rely on third-party libraries (in conjunction with Google's own support library) to create elements like floating action buttons, but Google is looking to fix that, releasing a new design support library today that fills in some of the holes. Read More
Besides new family-friendly and kid-friendly efforts on search and discovery in the Play Store, Google announced during its keynote today that Play Store search will be getting smarter overall.
Specifically, Google wants to more effectively surface apps when users search for vague or topical queries. The example given in the screenshot above shows the user searching for "shopping" apps. The Play Store then returns, of course, shopping apps. But those apps are then categorized intelligently into different sub-genres like Fashion and Coupons.
This may seem like a small tweak to most users, but - if Google is right - it will help introduce users to the right app when the user is not sure exactly what they're looking for, which is a good step in helping along discoverability in the Play Store as a whole. Read More
When it comes to getting users to your app, your Play Store listing counts for a lot. What users see (and read) when they reach your app's listing can make or break their decision to download or buy, so carefully crafting a good listing is important.
To that end, Google has announced that it will open up what amounts to A/B testing for Play Store listings, meaning developers can play with their listings by testing different screenshots, graphics, etc. to see what performs better and end up with the best possible listing.
To facilitate this, Google will add "Listing Experiments" to the Play Store developer console. Read More
Photo credit: Jamie Pearson (CC BY 2.0)
As we all know, Google I/O is right around the corner. So far this year, we haven't seen too many early clues as to what Google will cover in its keynote (though Ars Technica's I/O tracker is a great place to get some ideas) outside of its new Photos app, but we do expect that Google will be telling us about Android M (internally called macadamia nut cookie or MNC).
The specifics of what Android M will bring to the table are still a mystery, but we've heard a few things that could make this an exciting update. Read More
In the midst of update Wednesday, Google has just pushed a brand new version of Chrome to the Play Store - Chrome Dev.
For those unaware, Google's browser comes in four main channels - Stable, Beta, Dev, and Canary. As you descend the list, you get closer to the bleeding edge. So while you can see some of what's next in Chrome Beta, the Dev channel shows what Google is working on "right now," giving a peek into "whatever code [Google's] got."
The Play Store listing of course warns that any new functionality in the Dev version of Chrome may be "rough around the edges," but Google says this release will be updated "on roughly the same schedule as other platform Dev channels."
Grab the app from the widget below and follow its updates on APK Mirror. Read More
Google updated its design spec recently. The material spec, which Google says is a living document (as evidenced by its ongoing updates), gained further guidance on floating action buttons, dialogs, updates on typography, and a lot more.
One less-advertised update was a change to the section in "Structure" concerning the navigation bar in Android. The "color variants" text is still identical to that from the "status bar" subsection, but an image showing nav bars themed to match your device's hardware was removed. Here's the image in question:
Theming according to device color is - as far as this writer knows - not possible on Android at the moment, and neither is theming the nav bar to its "light style" variant also shown in the guidelines, where the nav bar is white and the buttons become gray. Read More
It's no secret that Google advocates developing apps with multiple form factors in mind. While not all the apps in Google's own portfolio are quite up to speed on this front, apps like the ones in Google's Play suite have done a nice job so far in supporting phones and tablets alike.
But since I/O 2014, Google's been working on more than just phones and tablets. Last year saw the introduction of Android for TVs, watches, and even cars, so now is the time for developers to start thinking about how their experiences will look and feel on those new form factors.
To that end, Google has announced a new reference sample app - a music player - that's available for developers to play with. Read More
At some point or another, most Android developers will eventually open up the profiling tools to track down bugs and performance issues in a misbehaving application. Let's be honest, the tools included with the Android SDK do leave something to be desired. Facebook has just released one of its internally-developed tools which provides network inspection, database inspection and interaction, and a support for access to the dumpapp output with the use of customizable plugins. The most interesting feature about Stetho is that it runs entirely through the Chrome Developer Tools – the same interface used by web developers everywhere.
Keep in mind, Stetho is not a total debugger replacement. Read More