If you couldn't make it to Google I/O, and thus couldn't get one of the first Android TV units as part of the developer swag, you can still start developing your apps for the platform's retail debut later in 2014. Google has included Android TV modules in the official Android SDK, underneath the Android L (API 20) package. That includes an emulator specifically for TV, so you should be able to build and test apps without any extra hardware.
Intel's progress into the Android ecosystem hasn't exactly been earth-shattering. The number of high-end and mid-range smartphones equipped with an ATOM CPU still number in the single digits, making the x86 architecture a fairly low priority for app developers. In addition, Intel's emulator images have always lacked support for the Google APIs, leaving developers without the ability to test common staples like Google Maps or push messaging. Fortunately, that issue was recently rectified with KitKat as Google and Intel have finally shipped an x86 system image with Google API support.
Just about a year ago we reported that the popular multi-platform retro gaming emulator RetroArch had been published to the Play Store. Apparently Google took exception to this, as they've done with a seemingly random assortment of game emulators - some have been viciously torn out of the Play Store, some have been left alone, and Google isn't talking about why it picks one over the other. In any case, RetroArch is back, at least for the moment.
We featured the DraStic Nintendo DS emulator way back when it launched and came away impressed. Version 2.2 of the app is probably the biggest update yet, adding a host of forward-looking features that should improve both performance and overall gaming satisfaction. Android 4.4 users in particular will be happy to hear that DraStic now supports Android Runtime (ART).
Those of you with a MOGA controller can now use it natively with DraStic, no root or workaround required.
Android emulator fans, meet you new best friend. Yesterday the DraStic Nintendo DS emulator was published to the Play Store, for the admittedly high price of $7.99. It's not the first DS emulator for Android, but it's far and away the best - the combination of smooth performance (on sufficient hardware) and a stupefying amount of options to adapt the DS ergonomics makes it an easy recommendation.
Most of the existing DS emulators are based on code for Windows programs, making them unbearably slow on Android.
I have a confession to make: most of the programs you might want to run on this emulator were written before I was born. But if you're the kind of seasoned geek who really did watch the original Star Wars in theaters (and watched it in Europe), you might just remember having an Amstrad brand computer in your basement. Developer Kokak (who we've featured before) has released Droid-CPC, a full emulator for the Amstrad line of PCs.
Those of you who run Linux or Unix will be familiar with Wine, perhaps the best-known solution for running some Windows programs on open-source desktop operating systems. The long-running project is a staple of the Linux community. In a presentation at the Free and Open source Software Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM) 2013 in Brussels, Wine creator Alexandre Julliard confirmed spoke on an ARM-based version of the software and showed a brief demo of Wine running on Android.
If you're into classic games – everything from arcade throwbacks to more modern Playstation titles – then you may have a handful of game emulators installed on your various devices. Now, thanks to an open source, multi-console emulator called RetroArch that just made its way to Android after six months in the making, you can do away with the collection of emulators and get all your old school gaming action in one place.
The Google Play Store, as always, was abuzz with new apps last month. More than just new apps, though, the Play Store gained plenty of well-crafted, quality apps. The kind that have spurred the market's recent growth spurt, and which allow users to discover functionalities they never knew they needed. As always, we've sifted through all last month's new apps and selected our top five picks – a kind of short list for those looking to get the most out of their device with awesome apps.
There's no shortage of emulators for older gaming consoles on modern mobile platforms. The latest addition to the list is PPSSPP, a PSP emulator that self-admits to being a work in progress. Of course, there are a couple of things you should know up front: for starters, it's possible this won't last long on the Play Store, since emulators tend to have a pesky problem with legal and policy gray areas.