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developement

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Android Platform Distribution Numbers Updated—Android 5.1 Gains As Everything Else Falls Or Holds Steady

It's that time of month again—yes, Google has updated the developer dashboard with new platform distribution numbers. A surprising twist this month is that 5.0 variants of Android have gone down slightly. In fact, everything has gone down, with the notable exception of Android 5.1. That one is up almost 3%.

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Android Platform Distribution Numbers Updated, Lollipop Now On 21% Of Devices

It was starting to look like Google was going to skip another month of dashboard updates, but the platform distribution numbers have just been posted. No surprise, Lollipop continues to grow, just in time for Marshmallow to start rolling out. KitKat is still the largest piece of the pie, though.

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Google Posts Details For Updated AppCompat-v7 r21 Library For All Of Your Backwards-Compatibility Needs [For Developers]

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. While the AppCompat Library came out last week, Google just posted a detailed list of what's new and how to make use of it.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: System-Wide Data Compression For WebViews

Developers who need to display web content as part of an app have the option of using Android's built-in WebView class. WebView renders a webpage without JavaScript and ignores errors. It's fine for reading content and saves devs from implementing a full-fledged browser. There's an experimental setting in Android L's developer options that could make WebViews much cooler – data compression.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: OpenGL ES 3.1 Support For Prettier Games

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.

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Google Play Services 4.0 Rolling Out To Gingerbread And Above, Includes New Ads SDK, Updates To Geofencing, Maps, And Wallet APIs

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. With this update, efficiency can be further improved thanks to new settings that allow developers to limit how quickly their apps are notified about entering or exiting a geofence and if they should even be notified at all if the user only briefly passes through the area.

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Paranoid Android Team Will Rewrite The ROM For KitKat Focusing On Fewer Devices, Googley Design, And Accessibility

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.

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According to the G+ post, the core team has decided to move away from the model of having everyone support individual devices. No matter how skilled a developer is, there are going to be things outside their wheelhouse.

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Chromecast Updated To Build 12940 With Stability/Discovery Enhancements, Google Cast SDK Bumped To v1.0.1

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.

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If you happen to be developing an app with the Google Cast Preview SDK, you will want to check out the latest update to v1.0.1.

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[Update: Winners!] International Book Giveaway: Win One Of Ten Copies Of 'Android User Interface Design' From Android Police And InformIT

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).

And now's your chance to get one of ten copies for free.

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[For Developers] Smali / Baksmali Updated v2.0 Beta Is Out, Now Multithreaded For Your Pleasure

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.

Smali and baksmali are tools for assembling and disassembling the dex format used in Android apks. It's true that tools like this can be used for less than honorable endeavors, but they are also incredibly important to activities like deodexing apps for custom themes, tweaking functionality (like forcing portrait or landscape mode), and even digging around to learn more about various apps.
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