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Android Studio v2.1 Released To Stable Channel With Support For Android N, Java 8 Language Features, And More

With last month's release of the Android N Preview, the Tools team launched a preview release of Android Studio 2.1. Not only did the new version add support for the N Preview SDK, but it also brought a few important important and welcomed additions, including adoption and support for many of the language features in Java 8, a semi-official switch to the Jack compiler, an updated New Project wizard, and further improvements to the new and faster Android Emulator. As of today, Android Studio 2.1 has been promoted to Stable and is available to all developers.

The biggest advantage of updating and switching to the Jack compiler, aside from playing with new Android N APIs like Launcher Shortcuts, is probably the addition of Lambda Expressions.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Jack Compiler Gains Support For Many Java 8 Language Features Including Lambdas, Streams, Functional Interfaces, And More

Developers have plenty of great new APIs and features coming with Android N, but perhaps the best thing to look forward to is at the language level itself. Starting with the preview SDK due out today, some of the language features of Java 8 will be supported by the Jack compiler. This will bring things like support for lambdas, default and static methods, streams, and functional interfaces. Google is also declaring that the Jack compiler will also be able to remain more up-to-date with Java language features in the future.

One of the top requests from developers over the last few years has been for a more rapid uptake of new language features for Java, many of which would allow for more efficient use of development time and ultimately easier to read code.

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The Google Play Services v8.1 SDK Is Now Available, Includes A Few Enhancements And A Couple Breaking Changes

The rollout for Google Play services v8.1 is complete and now it's time to open the floodgates for developers to begin working with some of the changes. When new versions come out, it's fairly common for Google to hold back a few extra details to be announced after the rollout has completed. This time around, there are improvements for the Maps API, Nearby API, and App Invites. The previously announced Play Games Play Stats API has been added, and Google has advice on properly handling Android 6.0 permissions. There are also a couple of minor breaking changes that have to be dealt with too.

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Android M Begins Locking Down Floating Apps, Requires Users To Grant Special Permission To Draw On Other Apps

 

Floating apps have become emblematic of Android's unique flexibility and range. No other mobile OS allows non-system apps to directly interact with users and overtake the screen while another app is supposed to be in the foreground. This capability allows for a powerful and customizable user experience, but it can also quickly become a problem if an app is poorly implemented or its developer abuses this privilege for malicious purposes.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow is setting some new rules for drawing on the screen. Starting with Developer Preview 3, apps targeting API 23 (or above) will have to ask users to grant permission for them to draw on top of other apps.

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Google Releases Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, A Fully Operational Emulator For Auto App Development

One of the biggest challenges to creating good apps for Android Auto has been actually testing the experience. Many independent developers can't afford to purchase brand new cars with Auto built-in, and aftermarket head units won't fit in most recently manufactured cars without heavy modification, and most of those units aren't very good anyway. When the Auto SDK came out, it included simulators that could be used for basic testing of just the messaging and media browser interfaces, but even these weren't good substitutes for the real thing. Today, Google released the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, a functioning implementation of the Android Auto platform that runs right on a desktop or laptop.

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Google Sending Out Applications For Small Batch Of Project Soli Alpha Dev Kits

It's been a while since we last heard anything about Project Soli - Google's radical post-touch experiment unveiled at I/O - but it looks like the project is still rolling right along. According to a tipster, Google has begun notifying interested parties of an impending "Soli Alpha DevKit," asking that those notified fill out an application for the chance to receive one.

Google says it's looking for pretty much everything when it comes to possible applications - health, art, interactive installations, robotics, HCI, VR, and more are all specifically called out as fair game in Google's email.

The email says that those selected to receive a DevKit will get a development board and SDK, along with the opportunity to participate in a Soli Alpha developer workshop at some point in the future.

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Amazon Releases Alexa SDK Preview For Developers And Opens Up Echo's Voice Service To More Hardware, Starts $100 Million Fund To Invest In Folks Who Think This Is Cool

Amazon probably isn't the first company that comes to mind when you think of innovative gadgets. Not anymore, anyway. Hearing a company is producing a ho-hum smartphone based on Android isn't nearly as exciting as hearing about the Kindle for the first time. But with the Echo, the online retailer does have a cool piece of tech on its hands.

AmazonEcho

The Echo, which recently became available for general purchase in the US, is essentially what you get when you stick Google Now or Siri into a plastic tube. While that may not sound all that creative, delivery is everything. Saying OK Alexa (the name of the persona inside the device) out in the middle of the kitchen and having the product pick up from another room is rather impressive, especially when you just want to fire up some background music or search for a recipe.

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Amazon Releases Cloud Drive SDKs For Android And iOS So Developers Can Integrate Their Apps

Amazon Cloud Drive is like other cloud storage options, only it provides unlimited storage space. That's nothing to sniff at, but it's still not all that big a deal if your favorite apps can't smoothly tap into the service.

To address this issue, Amazon has now released an SDK so that developers can start baking the platform into their apps. The additions serve as part of the company's existing Mobile App SDK.

Screenshot 2015-06-17 at 5.15.53 PM

In the source link below, Amazon highlights four Android apps that have already taken advantage of the SDK. The list consists of A+ Gallery, TextMaker HD Basic, PlanMaker HD Basic, and Presentations HD Basic.

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[Breakfast Meat] Google's M-Preview Developer Docs Are Packed With A Bit Of Bacon-y Goodness

There was a time when we thought bacon could make almost anything better. We were wrong... It can make everything better! Things started simple with bacon appearing on breakfast plates, hamburgers, and sandwiches. Society eventually aimed higher with more creative endeavors like bacon ice cream, bacon-wrapped pizza, and of course, bacon-wrapped bacon. We couldn't even stop there because cocktail culture simply wasn't complete without bacon-flavored vodka. Why am I talking so much about bacon? Because this tasty meat has been sprinkled on top the API Overview page in the M-Preview SDK developer documentation. Take a look:

SoooooooMeaty

What you're seeing above is "bacon ipsum," a delicious alternative to the lorem ipsum commonly used in graphic design and publishing as filler until a final copy is written.

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