Root Checker is a simple little tool that does what it says on the box: it checks whether your phone or tablet (or game console, or set-top-box, or e-reader, or robotic toaster) has root permissions. Those that use it probably only do so for a few seconds once or twice a month. That being the case, it's not a big deal if the app doesn't look good. But that doesn't mean that it can't, right?
Chrome users love to try out new features in the beta version of the Android browser, and fans of Opera's long-running software have been able to do the same since March. Now you can try out the new goodies in the pipeline early for the Opera Mini browser as well: the company just published a beta app on the Play Store. And what's more, the very first release of the beta version is making it count with a fresh new user interface.
Update: Some commenters say that the test link works on other phones. Based on the devices that are allowed in thus far, it may be dependent on a 1920x1080 resolution.
Update 2: Wow, that was fast. One of the Android Police staff already has at least some of the Material Design changes enabled for searching from Chrome for Android, and others are reporting that they can see them as well. This isn't active for everyone - even my Nexus 5 with the latest KitKat firmware is showing the old interface.
Though Google officially announced Android Auto back at Google I/O, we didn't get to see much of the car initiative at the show itself. A recent update to the Developer.Android.com page shows off a lot more of the system, primarily in how the usual Android apps on a phone interact with a dash unit in a car or truck. The updated page includes screenshots of the app launcher (such as it is), Google Play Music, and some basic menus.
Alarm.com is one of those ubiquitous home security companies that sells home safety packages, and like a lot of their competitors, they had an Android app simply as a check mark for comparison shoppers. Before today, the previous version of the security system's mobile component looked like it hadn't been touched since 2010. Yesterday's update fixed that primary problem with an extensive user interface refresh, granting easy access to all the security and automation features installed in a home.
Releasing the L preview was an important leap forward for Android as an ecosystem, but, outside of a single almost meaningless update, we're probably not going to see any new builds up until the final L release. I can sort of see why the Android team doesn't want to put out builds with incremental fixes, saving all the improvements for a grand finale unveiling, so in the meantime, any glimpse at their progress is very interesting to us as well as developers working on porting their apps to adhere to the new Material Design guidelines.
While CyanogenMod is generally regarded as the biggest and best of the innumerable custom ROMs, some of the others tend to implement interesting additions to Android much sooner. The latest nightly builds of CM 11 (Android 4.4) have added something that's not exactly new, but should be very much appreciated by immigrants from other ROMs. Users can now long-press the physical or virtual Recents button to quickly open the last app "under" the current one.
Chrome is the go-to browser for most of the Android world, but those who need a little variety or customization hold the long-standing Dolphin in high regard. The latest beta for Dolphin Browser adds a completely revamped user interface (which the developers seem to do at least once a year now) and a goody basket full of new features. Easily the best among them is support for the official Dolphin extension OneTap, which essentially copies the background-loading app Link Bubble.
Quick, if you're on a desktop browser, open a new tab and head for Google Drive. You might just see a new interface for Google's document and storage service, first announced back at Google I/O. Drive is getting a makeover to make it more like navigating files in a desktop file manager, complete with thumbnail views for all items and keyboard modifiers that let you manage multiple files at once.
Take a gander at the video below, ladies and gents - it was just posted to the Google Developers YouTube account. "Material Design" doesn't feature any context, but anyone who's kept up with the leaks here at Android Police will probably notice some familiar design elements.
At the end of the video is a link to Google.com/design, which gives notes and suggestions on Google's new direction for both web and mobile visual design.