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.
I'm no Android developer, but I figure if I wanted to get started, I'd check out some videos and pick up a couple of books. That leads to the obvious question: where are these things? Packt, a publisher of both eBooks and good old-fashioned print ones, is currently offering its full catalog of development-oriented works for $5 each (in digital format only). It's also offering a few videos at the same price.
Microsoft has acquired HockeyApp, a service that helps developers test their apps and get feedback from users. The company plans to use the platform, akin to Apple's TestFlight (purchased early this year), to attract app creators to its development tools. The folks at Redmond intend to integrate HockeyApp with the Application Insights service in Visual Studio Online to improve support for Android and iOS.
HockeyApp offers developers integrated crash reporting, information on beta distribution, and a built-in user feedback system.
The foldable cardboard VR kits Google gave away at I/O 2014 weren't just a one-off stunt. Today, in its developers blog, Google had some big announcements for the home-brewed virtual reality viewer.
First up, Google has grouped a handful of Cardboard-compatible apps into their own collection on the Play Store. The Cardboard app itself has also received an update, with the ability to discover cardboard apps on the Play Store, and launch them directly from the viewer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most of us don't want to think of Android without Google Play services. There's a good reason for that, without all of the tools Google offers, we would miss out on features like push notifications, integrated maps, and even newer things like Google Fit. Developers keep asking for more and Google is answering that call. With the latest release of Google Play services, new features are coming to Fit, Maps, Drive, And Wallet.