Yesterday's Google I/O keynote gave an introduction to some of the great new improvements to Android Studio 2.2, but it only scratched the surface. Today, the Android Tools Team took to the stage again to detail even more about the things they've been doing to make work easier for developers. Topics ranged from new tools like the APK Analyzer and Espresso Test Recorder to big improvements in the code editor and inspectors. We can't cover everything, but here is a summary of the main topics presented today.
New Layout Editor
One of the two hot topics introduced during the keynote is a brand new layout editor.
So Allo has some people in the Android world quite excited, even if it is Google's third chat standard in four years and leaves the future of Hangouts somewhat nebulous. It's going to be several months before the public gets access to Allo in all its Assistant-infused glory, but there are already APKs leaking out to the Internet for both the standard Allo and the new Duo video chat app. At least a few users were able to grab the apps off the Play Store despite them being in pre-registered mode, and both of them were posted to our sister siteAPK Mirror.
You might be seeing a lot more of Android Pay in the coming months. Google has deployed a new set of APIs for developers to build Pay into mobile web sites, instant apps, and even your email. The goal is to make the payment process faster and easier on mobile devices, but only in countries where Android Pay is accepted.
The first two N Developer Previews were alpha releases, so naturally a good number of things didn't work correctly. One of the apps that purposely did not work as intended was Android Pay, which produced a screen saying it was disabled until a future release. As Developer Preview 3 is now officially a beta, the Android team has seemingly seen fit to restore Android Pay to working order.
The reason Android Pay now works is because Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) is now approved. This also means other apps that depend on CTS should work too. On Developer Preview 1 and 2, this was not approved, and so Android Pay did not work.
There were plenty of features announced at Google I/O yesterday regarding Android and some of those new things are meant for Android Auto - Google's car dashboard system. The most exciting of them is the fact that you will no longer need an Auto-enabled vehicle to be able to benefit from the simplified car-friendly interface while you're driving. You can also learn more about the features in our video, below.
In the next few months, Android Auto will get several interesting additions. First is Waze compatibility with the app running on your dashboard and keeping you in the loop of hazards ahead and potential delays and problems. Second is OK Google hotwording which will activate voice commands when you say "OK Google" instead of requiring you to press a button to start listening.
Long ago in the far-off time of last year, NVIDIA announced a handful of current and last-gen console titles would be released for the Android TV-powered SHIELD. It took a long time, but eventually most of the promised high-profile games came along, including Metal Gear Rising, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and War Thunder, but one of the more long-standing franchises was still a no-show before today. Capcom's Resident Evil, or at least the fifth entry in the main series, is available on the SHIELD TV right now.
If you've read any of my articles on Android Auto, you'll know that my thoughts - for the sake of brevity - are that it's just kind of OK. This is because Android Auto's philosophy of projection via smartphone over USB and Bluetooth is inherently limited in what it can actually do with a vehicle. And so, many of you have asked on Auto articles I've written in the past: "Why doesn't Google just build an Android Car OS?" WhileGoogle may not have been listening per se, they definitely had the same idea, and have created just that. You can also check out our video quickly going over the concept below.
NVIDIA is taking advantage of the excitement around Google I/O to announce some improvements to its own Android hardware. The SHIELD TV is getting some interesting new capabilities with its next update, version 3.2. Specifically, it will be the first Android TV hardware to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video - that's something that's coming to Android N later, but NVIDIA wants to get a jump on the competition.
One of the more exciting revelations at the opening keynote of Google I/O 2016 is "Assistant," Google's upcoming expansion of its search tools. Explaining exactly what Assistant is and isn't is a bit tricky, because it both integrates a lot of existing Google technology and spills over into other upcoming services, like Google Home and Allo. Essentially, it's a new way to interact with Google Search, with the intention being that you "speak" with it in a more human fashion.