It seems like forever since we did our last teardown for Google Glass, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of things happening for the former Google[x] project. XE16 brought the first ever change in OS version, taking Glass from 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) all of the way to 4.4.2 (KitKat). A minor hotfix from build followed with an undisclosed set of changes and a minor bump in build number.
Included in Android's design guidelines is a section regarding iconography. The guidelines give very specific instructions on how to design a launcher icon for Android - it should have a unique silhouette, it should have a slight downward perspective, and it should be clearly visible no matter what wallpaper is behind it.
Many have opined, however, that it's odd that Google maintains different iconography for its apps on Android and their corresponding web services.
MyColorScreen's Themer is already an impressively powerful app for making your phone look cool. But for something that's supposed to encourage customization, it's surprisingly limiting - you can choose from a wide variety of user-created homescreens, but there aren't many options for tweaking them. With the latest update, Themer gives end users the ability to add some flair of their own via icon packs.
Themer should work with the vast majority of icon packs that are already in the Play Store and designed for more typical launchers like Nova and Apex.
Now that the Chromecast is truly coming into its own, Google can turn its attention to the little things. Specifically, the icon. The current cast icon design works fine for some apps, but not so well for others. The new guidelines are aimed at making the status of the icon easier to discern across a range of apps designs.
The old icon relied on a change in color to indicate connected/non-connected (see below).
Last month we took a look at Google's Android Compatibility Definition Document, which stated that OEMs must use white icons if they're using translucent status bars. This change could provide a more uniform experience across Android devices, something that would be better for consumers and developers alike. But the question remains - will OEMs play ball? Well, the folks at SamMobile have gotten their hands on a leaked Android 4.4 build for the Galaxy S4, and it looks like the answer, at least from the leading Android manufacturer, may be yes.
In our last Glass Teardown, we found a ton of new commands hidden in the resources of GlassVoice.apk, pulled from the XE10 update. Just a couple of days ago, XE11 rolled out to Explorers, and it's got even more to tell us about future Glass functionality.
In this teardown, we'll take a look at progress on functions XE10 hinted at, new resources that clarify some of our previous discoveries, and a couple of new things as well.
If you're reading this story on a Widows PC (Vista or later), do me a favor. Minimize your browser and any other windows so that just the desktop is showing. Hold down the control button. Then scroll your mouse wheel up about a dozen times. Congratulations, you've just replicated the effect of Giganticon without even installing the app.
Giganticon has one purpose, and one purpose only: it makes the app icons on your homescreen enormous.
One of the more interesting alternative launchers out there (that is to say, one that isn't just a grid of apps and widgets plus a drawer) is Action Launcher. This premium custom launcher has been gaining fans since its launch, thanks to a unique gesture-based app drawer and a focus on speed and usability. With version 1.7, developer Chris Lacy has added some of the features this younger launcher lacks, most notably icon theme support - the various theme packs for GO, Nova, and Apex launchers should work with Action Launcher Pro now.
TeslaCoil Software's Nova Launcher has become one of the most popular custom launchers for Android power users since shortly after the arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich, and part of the reason is the constant addition of new features. The latest revision (2.1) adds a whole lot of goodies, especially if you like to play around with the look and feel of your icons and themes. The release adds features both for free users and those who've bought the $4 Nova Launcher Prime.