As most of our readers know, an update to the Play Store rolled out a couple of days ago with a feature many of us have been requesting for nearly three years: the ability to join and leave beta test groups from within the Play Store. For reasons we can only speculate about, the join/leave capability was disabled about 24 hours later. While the headlining feature was covered in our original post, there are still a couple of interesting tidbits waiting for the teardown treatment.
As we all know, Google I/O is right around the corner. So far this year, we haven't seen too many early clues as to what Google will cover in its keynote (though Ars Technica's I/O tracker is a great place to get some ideas) outside of its new Photos app, but we do expect that Google will be telling us about Android M (internally called macadamia nut cookie or MNC).
The specifics of what Android M will bring to the table are still a mystery, but we've heard a few things that could make this an exciting update.
Did you know that the web browser on your phone or tablet waits three tenths of a second after you tap something to actually perform that action? You did if you're a web developer - it's a de-facto standard for mobile browsers, a built-in delay for the double-tap zoom function. But if you're on the newest Chrome beta, you won't see the delay, at least on mobile sites.
Why is this? According to Jake Archibald of HTML5 Rocks (a promotional and instructional project page from Google), it's because this delay is unnecessary if you're browsing on a page that's already optimized for mobile viewing.
Update: Samsung has posted an official response to yesterday's benchmark kerfuffle, explaining that the maximum frequency for the S4 is actually 533MHz, but that it is actually scaled down for "certain gaming apps that may cause an overload". The maximum frequency, according to the statement, is also attainable in "apps that are usually used in full-screen mode" like the gallery, S Browser, etc. This may not fully explain the explicit mention of certain benchmark apps in TwDVFSApp, but it is at least nice to see an official response to the situation.
Here's the full statement:
Under ordinary conditions, the GALAXY S4 has been designed to allow a maximum GPU frequency of 533MHz.
Hardware enthusiasts are probably already aware of Futuremark and its PCMark software, a standard for testing and comparing computer hardware for years. PCMark is popular among reviewers and users for its comparison of hardware on standards that are more likely to reflect real-world, typical usage. Today Futuremark announced that it's bringing the software to the "Big three" mobile operating systems, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Futuremark's press release did not include a date.
At ARM TechCon today, the titular purveyor of semiconductors announced its Cortex-A50 series, dubbed "the world's most energy-efficient 64-bit processors." Based on the ARMv8 architecture, the line will launch with the Cortex-A53 and A57 processors, allowing not only for significantly more energy-efficient processing, but SoC scalability that makes the line applicable to devices from smartphones to high-performance servers. The A57 is geared toward high-performance, while the A53 is lauded by ARM as its most power-efficient. Both chips also support 32-bit and 64-bit ARM code, and according to ARM, the A53 can live up to the performance of the Cortex A9 at 60% the die area.
We all know how useful floating apps can be, so an always-on-top performance monitor makes perfect sense for power users and developers. One such project just hit the Play Store from developer Chainfire, who has already brought us several other useful tools, like CFBench, SuperSU, and FAAPT.
Simply called Perfmon, this is a floating application that can output certain metrics for monitoring purposes: foreground app, CPU, disk I/O, and network I/O. What makes this app unique, however is its CPU metric called CPU capacity usage. According to Chainfire, it "will take the CPU usage and scale it to what it would be if all cores were running at full capacity."
For example: if you have a 1.6ghz quad-core running a light app, it could be using 10% CPU with only one of the four cores active, and that core running at 200mhz.
Google Currents has always been a pretty impressive app - arguably the best Android news aggregator around town. Especially praised has been its beautiful UI; however, that didn't stop Google from looking at what it had and making it even better.
Indeed, the app just hit version 1.5.1, and the UI has been updated to "Android standards." Notably, the top navigation bar now features "auto hide" and "touch-to-show" controls, and it includes the library/trending toggle that was previously located elsewhere. Additionally, Google has enhanced the app's performance and made the usual bug fixes.
If you have already have Currents, you can download the update from the Play Store now; if for some reason you don't have it installed yet, all the info you need is below.
Facebook's Android team pushed out an incremental update v1.9.4 today with "improved performance and various bug fixes." Just what those improvements and bug fixes are will remain a mystery - the only useful part of such changelogs is we know what they didn't do in this release.
So, what did those who updated think of increased performance?
Business as usual then - got it.
Facebook on my Epic Touch has never seemed particularly slow UI-wise, but pulling data takes uncomfortably long even on Wi-Fi. If the Facebook app ever got to Spotify's level of fast, I'm sure its rating would start quickly rising from the measly 3.6.
As an Android developer, I like to keep tabs on the tools I use every day, especially ones as important as ADT for Eclipse and SDK Tools. As was the case several times before, the Android team in charge of both of them posted previews of upcoming releases of ADT 20 and SDK Tools r20, available for manual download ahead of the final releases.
Yup, you heard me correctly - 20, not 18 or 19. Even though the previous major release was 17, 18 followed up shortly after with some minor changes, and 19, even more minor, wasn't even posted to the downloads page (see here for the reason).