Game developers integrating with Google Play Games have seen a lot of improvements since the service was launched a year and a half ago at Google I/O 2013. There have been a lot of refinements to the experience for both players and developers, and new tools have made many of the tedious and time consuming chores much easier. Google has just launched a new Play Games Publishing API inspired by a similar interface that was added to the Play Store earlier this year.
Now that most of the critical issues have been worked out of Android 5.0 Lollipop, most of the releases are now going to center around cleaning up less pressing oversights and taking care of bugs. However, it seems that we're still not quite through with the device-specific fixes as an update is now rolling out to the 2012 Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi), codenamed Grouper. No official changelog has been posted, but Al Sutton has compiled a list from the AOSP commits, giving us a pretty good insight into what's new.
The short version of this story is that Tse Ho Keung, holder of a patent that is currently within an inch of its life, has so far failed to get any traction in lawsuits against major tech companies (...and Blockbuster), and has resorted to threatening independent developers in a dual effort to either gain money or to avenge the name of his patent by forcibly eliciting amicus briefs and declaratory statements.
The new version of Android Wear is rolling out, and with it comes the official watch face API. Developers have been making custom watch faces for months using a workaround, but now the party is over. All watch faces need to be updated with the official API by January 31st, 2015 or they will be removed from the Play Store.
A couple of weeks ago, a release candidate for Android Studio 1.0 rolled out to the Canary development channel to allow users a chance to poke and prod at it before an official launch. The serious issues have been worked out and Android Studio has been given its first official release to the stable channel. Alongside the title change, Android Studio has also been declared the "official Android IDE." ADT with Eclipse is still available, but is no longer considered to be in active development.
Developer Iwo Banaś is not having a good week. The free version of his SCR Screen Recorder app, which we featured on Android Police last month, was unceremoniously kicked off of the Play Store for "Violation of the System Interference provision of the Content Policy." Exactly what that means is outlined in a Google Support document: basically it says that ads can't impersonate portions of the Android interface or imply that they're something that they're not, like a fake virus warning or Facebook message.
Android has gone through quite a few changes during its short 6 years of life. The Android that drives most of the world's smartphones of today would be almost unrecognizable to what was launched in late 2008. We've seen massive visual changes, expansion to almost every conceivable form factor, and a completely fleshed-out content ecosystem for multimedia and apps. As the operating system matured, some elements have successfully grown with it, and others have become dead weight.
If you're a developer who likes to tinker with Android apps and see what makes them tick, you've probably heard of Apktool. And if you've tried to do that with some of Google's recent apps, or any apps that have been updated with Lollipop support, you've probably discovered that the Java applet doesn't always work for them. Developer Connor Tumbleson just posted the third release candidate for Apktool, which should fix most of those problems.
It's been almost exactly 18 months since it was announced at I/O 2013, but Android Studio has finally hit version 1.0. Well, almost. This is a release candidate, so it's pretty close to what will become the first official stable release. For this release, the Android Tools team has been focusing on getting the bugs fixed and improving stability, but there are a couple of notable changes, as well.
Left: old splash screen, Right: new splash screen.
In an interesting bit of news this evening, it looks like Google has opened up merchant support to China, allowing developers to distribute free or paid apps, in-app purchases, and subscriptions in over 130 countries.
The news comes in a post to Google's official Android Developers blog, which goes on to explain that Chinese developers distributing paid apps through the Play Store will receive payment via wire transfer to a Chinese bank account in USD.