Google posted at least some of the events and sessions for developers to check out at the Google I/O trade conference already. It looks like the Big G wasn't quite finished ironing out the details, because several new sessions have been added to the official website as of today. Here are a few of them that are particularly relevant to Android:
It's the beginning of the month again, and that means it's time for Google to update the Android platform distribution numbers. We've been waiting ages for Froyo to die, but it lives on this month. However, Marshmallow continues to show strong performance as the only version gaining market share right now.
Here's the full breakdown of this month's numbers.
Android version stats, May 2016
Previous data (%)
Current data (%)
So, as you can see, Froyo is still sitting there at 0.1%, mocking us with its obsolescence.
With last month's release of the Android N Preview, the Tools team launched a preview release of Android Studio 2.1. Not only did the new version add support for the N Preview SDK, but it also brought a few important important and welcomed additions, including adoption and support for many of the language features in Java 8, a semi-official switch to the Jack compiler, an updated New Project wizard, and further improvements to the new and faster Android Emulator. As of today, Android Studio 2.1 has been promoted to Stable and is available to all developers.
The biggest advantage of updating and switching to the Jack compiler, aside from playing with new Android N APIs like Launcher Shortcuts, is probably the addition of Lambda Expressions.
Normally only Nexus and other first-party Google devices get a taste of an upcoming Android version before it's released, barring custom ROMs and other end user activities. But Sony has been offering experimental AOSP builds for some of its phones for some time, and today the company has surprised and delighted owners of the former flagship Xperia Z3 with a custom Android N developer preview. This is more or less the same as the preview builds for Nexus phones and tablets, and it includes the Play Store and Google Services - everything one needs for a full Android experience.
For all its flaws, mobile gaming is kind of a big deal. Even world-class gaming hardware and software companies like Sony would be ill-advised to ignore it. And they aren't: today Sony announced that it's forming a new first-party development company called ForwardWorks, which will work exclusively on game development for mobile. Presumably that means Android games (since Sony manufactures Android hardware and leverages it with its PlayStation brand) and iOS games (since it would be foolish to ignore that potential revenue).
ForwardWorks will be based out of Tokyo as a fully-owned Sony subsidiary. At the moment it isn't clear what the focus of the developer will be: mobile tie-ins to popular Sony franchises like Killzone, Infamous, Little Big Planet, and Uncharted are obvious picks, but there's plenty of money to be made in mobile-only franchises as well if developers can score a win with the first title.
Developers, we know you work hard on your apps. So does Google. But they also know that sometimes it's hard to make apps easy to use when you're elbow deep in their design. To that end, the new Accessibility Scanner app allows you to check other apps for potential problems or possible improvements in terms of accessibility. It's a free download in the Play Store, but at the moment it looks like it's limited to Android 6.0 devices.
At GDC, Google announced a few new game-focused tools for developers that should make launching, promoting, and monetizing titles easier. There's now a full blog post on the changes, and they look like a big deal for developers, especially those who consider themselves "indie."
Maintaining an app has some similarities with keeping a website up and running. One day everything is fine. The next day, an update goes out that leaves thousands of people unable to do anything. Now they're ranting on Twitter, leaving poor reviews on Google Play, and giving you a massive dose of negativity and rage to encounter when you sit down at your computer.