Out of the entire list of apps in Google's lineup, Maps is probably the most consistent about delivering new and interesting features with almost every release. Version 9.35 began rolling out to users signed up to the beta channel yesterday and it's no slouch. Regular drivers can look forward to a new screen to welcome them when they arrive at their destinations, and dropped pins now contain Plus Codes so it's extremely easy to convey fairly precise locations to people through text, IM, and even over the phone. Moving over to a teardown shows that speed limits and current speed are going to be shown during navigation.
You may be wary of making your location available to apps and services on Android, but that uneasiness goes away in an emergency situation. If you call emergency services, you want them to know exactly where you are, and now Android has the tools to make that happen. Well, if you live in the UK or Estonia. Those are the first two countries with support for the new Emergency Location Service.
Growing up in Lebanon, I got used to giving and receiving directions to my home as, "take the second right turn after the chicken restaurant, continue straight past the two gas stations, it's the first building on the left after the falafel stand, with a flower shop below it and facing a pharmacy." I even remember how long I had to stay on hold on the phone with some government dude just to get the ZIP code for my area. Then I opened my own pharmacy in a different area of Lebanon, where the streets were divided by colored sectors and the buildings were numbered, but still, no one used the provided addresses because they were accustomed to the old way of doing things.
The long-awaited Nearby is on the horizon, and it will be launching with Play Services 7.8. The APK is in the midst of its rollout right now. It contains a few elements of Nearby, and surely plenty of bug fixes and tweaks, but there are also plenty of interesting pieces hidden inside, as well. After a quick long examination, we've got the interesting bits and pieces ready for viewing, along with some theories about what it all means. It's time for a teardown!
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.
The Facebook app takes a lot of heat (and with good reason), but the Facebook Messenger app is actually pretty alright at what it does. There's a new feature rolling out to this app today that lets you send a location to your friends as a message. It doesn't even have to be your location, just a location.
Google Play services 7.3 started rolling out to Android devices a little less than 2 weeks ago, making some small, but much needed changes in the process. It turns out that wasn't the only purpose for that release, as it also brings some cool new capabilities developers can use in their apps. Now that the rollout is finished, Google has released an updated Play Services SDK with new capabilities for Android Wear, Google Fit, and Location Services. There's also an improvement to the GoogleApiClient class to handle situations when APIs aren't available on a given device.
Magnus is back!
We learned last week from an update to the Android Wear app that support for connecting multiple watches – and possibly other devices – had become reality.
There are a few ways to get directions from your computer to a phone, but Google just added this handy functionality to Google search. Simply search for "send directions," and Google will let you pick a location and device, then you're good to go.
Early this month, Google announced a major update to its Play services framework, which brings the version number up to 7.0 and adds several great new APIs. The SDK for this update was held back until the corresponding apk had time to make its way out to Android devices everywhere. The wait is now over, and the SDK is live. Developers are now free to incorporate all of the new APIs into their apps. For a quick summary of the new features in Play services 7.0, check out the DevBytes video below. Fair warning, the video is hosted by Magnus Hyttsen, so make sure you've had your morning coffee.
The Android ecosystem –as most of us think of it– is built on more than just an operating system and a marketplace for independent apps. It's largely shaped by dozens of services that have been built by Google, allowing developers to add rich features to their apps without building out expensive infrastructures. The Google Play services package is the core element in this equation, and it's getting a pretty major update to version 7.0 over the next couple of weeks. Google just announced that it's about to give developers access to important new features including a Places API to get surrounding businesses and landmarks, and a new Nearby Connections API to make it easier for phones and tablets to act as a second screen to your Android TV.