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.
It's not unusual to see slightly customized builds of Android rolling out to Nexus devices shortly after the release of a new version. It certainly happened a few times with KitKat, and it looks like Lollipop is on track to do the same. As the rush of factory images and OTAs roll out, AOSP is also receiving commits for the new device-specific builds; and Al Sutton was quick to put out changelogs for each version.
We've all seen it happen. A great technology, service, or platform comes out, but without a solid base of users and apps, it fails to gain traction. Google wants to see the Fit API work out, and developers have been called upon to help make that happen. If you know how to write an Android app, and you've got a great idea for something that will get people off the couch and into the gym, you're invited to join the Google Fit Developer Challenge.
Google hasn't had much to say about Android Auto since it previewed the platform back at I/O in June. Now there's some movement as we wait on Android Auto to show up in vehicles. The Google Developers blog has posted an introduction to Android Auto and announced that the final APIs are ready for developers to get to work.
When it comes to software development, there are two very distinct camps on the subject of tools: those who prefer to keep it simple with just a text editor and a compiler, and then those who go straight for a fully-featured IDE with all the bells and whistles. For more than a decade, the undisputed champion of IDEs is Microsoft with its assorted versions of Visual Studio. Having come from years of work on Visual Studio, nothing pained me more than the first (several) times I started up Eclipse.
People all over the world can create apps and get them into the Play Store, where millions of users can potentially download their software. The thing is, not everyone is able to get paid for their work. To charge money for an app, you need to live in one of the supported places. Today seven areas have joined the list. This brings the number up to just over sixty.
Jordan (US Dollars)
Lebanon (Lebanese Pounds)
Oman (US Dollars)
Pakistan (Pakistani Rupees)
Puerto Rico (US Dollars)
Qatar (US Dollars)
Venezuela (US Dollars)
For clarification, residents could already download and pay for content in these areas.
Have you felt the draw to get into app development, but didn't really know how to get started? Google wants to make things a little easier with a brand new guidebook that's meant to get developers on the right path. The Secrets to App Success on Google Play is an 81-page eBook that outlines the process and best practices for developing and submitting your software to the Play Store, and hopefully make some money on it.