DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!! DEVELOPERS!!! Yeah, ok, I know, the chant has been done to death. But, we at Android Police really do <3 developers. Building great apps is a challenging job and it requires an obscene amount of time. As a developer myself, I know how hard it is to invest an extra hour when I'm already busy writing software, supporting customers, and of course, having a life. Unless you are eager to dive into every last session from Google I/O, all 25 hours of Android-specific content, then you might be wondering which sessions are really worth it for you. Well, I've taken the liberty of watching all of it and have compiled a quick guide so that all of the developers out there might be able to turn 2-3 solid days of cornea-crushing talks into a dense afternoon of unadulterated Android brilliance.
In our review of the Pebble SmartWatch, we only had two complaints about the software: a lack of apps, and a lack of utility. The second point stems from the fact that the Pebble can only receive alerts from your phone, and it can't send information back. Both issues have now been addressed by the Pebble SDK. Developers have been cranking away on watch apps for some time, but the latest SDK update adds AppMessage, a method of implementing bi-directional communication for Pebble. Translation: your watch can now tell your phone to do stuff.
Of course, support for this feature will require Android app developers to either bake it into their existing apps, or create a bridge application, plus the official Pebble app.
Heads up, Google, Glass is about to get some serious competition. Recon Instruments, a Canadian technology company known for athlete-focused heads-up display products, is looking to expand into general-purpose HUD technology. The company's prototype device - dubbed Jet - was officially unveiled today, and Recon Instruments hopes to release a retail product by the end of this year.
At first glance, the Jet looks like little more than a pair of sunglasses with an attached LCD screen; you won't be mistaking Recon Instrument's HUD for Google's anytime soon. On closer inspection, though, the Jet has promise. Boasting a dual-core CPU, HD camera, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+ and a myriad of sensors, Recon Instrument's glasses look to account for every augmented reality scenario imaginable.
Few things attract new users to an app more than the ability to interact with other people; gamers demand multi-player and socialites want instant photo sharing. To ease the burden of exchanging data fluidly, Samsung has released its new Chord SDK to make local peer-to-peer and group communication much easier for developers with little or no networking knowledge. It exposes features similar to Samsung's AllShare SDK, but makes it possible to broadcast data and share files with several devices at once.
Chord automates the discovery of nearby devices and handles most of the tedious aspects of file transfer and messaging, which are built on top of the open source ZeroMQ library for high efficiency.
For quite some time, we've been hearing about the potential advantages of the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) spec, and a seemingly endless list of gadgets that could benefit from it. Unfortunately, while many modern flagship devices are equipped with the necessary hardware, Google has allowed the Android OS to languish without official support for the standard. Most of the top OEMs have built their own proprietary versions for the energy efficient protocol, but until now, only Motorola has freely shared access to its API. However, that changes today: Samsung is taking its BLE SDK public.
Since building their own custom frameworks, both HTC and Samsung have required developers to submit applications for access to the SDKs.
Google recently updated its SDK license terms for the first time in a long while. While most changes are minor, one change has been grabbing quite a few headlines – Google's proclamation that those using the SDK are disallowed from taking "any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android". Here's the full clause in question:
Today, with the official release of the Nexus 4, Nexus 10, and Nexus 7 HSPA+, Google has released the Android 4.2 SDK, "a new and improved Jelly Bean."
Along with the SDK release, Google has made available SDK Tools r21, the Android NDK, and of course some helpful API documents. Highlighting some of the benefits of the new SDK (and, by extension, Android 4.2), Google touts "Renderscript computation directly in the GPU" for the Nexus 10, "a first for any mobile computation platform," lock screen widgets, Daydream, incredibly enhanced support for external displays, and optimizations for international users.
A full list of changes (specifically those pertinent to developers) can be found in the API docs, linked at the end of this post.
Before we get started, let's clarify something: this information is probably not relevant to you, unless you work for a major game publisher. Today, Ouya announced that they have some more Dev Kits available for pre-order if you want to get early access to the Android-based gaming console. The price tag (and this is why it's not relevant for you) is sitting way up there at $800.
For the cash, those purchasing the Dev Kit will receive one console, two controllers, and the OUYA Developer Kit. The Developer Kit, which is a separate entity from the Dev Kit, is an SDK (or ODK as they call it) that can be used to build and test games on the pre-release hardware.
We've been covering the OUYA since its original debut as an ambitious idea on Kickstarter in July. Within a month, the campaign had raised an astounding $8.6 million. We've also heard that OUYA is partnering with Square Enix, will include OnLive support, and a whole lot more (thanks to Founder Julie Uhrman's AMA on Reddit).
After a brief pause in OUYA news, Uhrman recently published a post to the official OUYA blog, giving readers a "full update" on the project. The post, titled "the train keeps on rolling," explains just about everything from details surrounding the status of manufacturing, to developer relations, to plans for the fit and finish of the final product.
Previously, most of these titles were restricted to Sony's own Android phones, but the company has struck a deal that will bring 30 new titles from a variety of genres to selected Fujitsu and Sharp smartphones as well. This may not be big news for stateside customers, but it's particularly significant in the Japanese market.
According to the press release, the service will start in nine countries - Japan, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia - on October 3rd, with more countries to be announced in the future.