Developers have a lot to look forward to with the latest release of Android, but not everything requires Lollipop to run. With the official release of the SDK for API Level 21, Google also included an updated version of the AppCompat Support Library, which contains back-ported versions of UI controls and other features for use on older versions of the OS. Some of the new libraries were first available with the L Preview SDK, but just about everything has received an update, and there are some additions for the official release.
Among Android L's many, many features is one that will set game developers' hearts aflutter – support for the recently announced OpenGL ES 3.1. This is the cross-platform rendering API used in many games, both mobile and desktop. Android L's support for v3.1 of the standard brings a ton of new capabilities.
The news out of Google is coming rapid-fire with the Nexus 5 going on sale, KitKat becoming a reality, and now the rollout of Google Play Services 4.0. The updated framework comes with a host of improvements to Google+ Sign-In, Wallet Instant Buy, Location Based Services, Maps, and comes with a brand new Mobile Ads SDK.
One of the most popular features announced during Google I/O 2013 was a massively improved set of tools for Location Services, which included geofencing and substantially improved location discovery.
As the announcement of Android 4.4 KitKat (presumably) draws closer, the Paranoid Android team has decided to make some changes to the way the popular ROM is managed. On the agenda is a complete rewrite of Paranoid Android with a focus on making a highly stable ROM targeted at fewer devices. That doesn't necessarily mean it won't run on your device, but things are about to change.
According to the G+ post, the core team has decided to move away from the model of having everyone support individual devices.
The Chrome team is pushing out an update to all the good little Chromecasts of the world. This one doesn't come with any changes to the UI or new features, but it does promise to improve the stability for Google Play Movies playback, and should make Chromecast devices discoverable on more networks. You won't need to do anything to get this installed on your end, the OTA will automatically download and install when it's your turn.
Nothing can break a good app quicker than an ugly interface. Conversely, a subpar app can be thrown into the limelight thanks to a beautiful UI. The point is: we're all slightly vain and love to look at pretty things. If you're a developer, making your app visually appealing is absolutely clutch for success; if you're just not sure where to start, however, we've got a book that should be just what the doctor ordered: Android User Interface: Turning Ideas and Sketches into Beautifully Designed Apps ($25, Amazon).
If you're in the modding and theming community, your work is about to get a bit faster, because Smali v2.0 is now in beta and firing on all cylinders. The new version brings multithreaded processing and a few tweaks to the language that should result in cleaner-looking code.
Get ready to start downloading, as the CyanogenMod team has started pushing out its first release candidate for 10.1. The CM team only uses the RC moniker to describe software that is believed to be stable and reliable enough for regular daily use. If you are looking for a rock solid version of Android 4.2 for your phone, this is probably the one to get.
The timing is no coincidence, as this lands exactly one week before a new version of Android is expected to be announced at Google I/O 2013 (probably v4.3).
Few things attract new users to an app more than the ability to interact with other people; gamers demand multi-player and socialites want instant photo sharing. To ease the burden of exchanging data fluidly, Samsung has released its new Chord SDK to make local peer-to-peer and group communication much easier for developers with little or no networking knowledge. It exposes features similar to Samsung's AllShare SDK, but makes it possible to broadcast data and share files with several devices at once.