Google's initiative to put privacy and security back into the hands of users through a revised permission system has received generally positive responses. It's no secret that this approach closely matches the way iOS prompts users for access to things like the contacts or location. Aside from the possibility that permission requests could become annoying with too much frequency, this has proven to be a pretty effective approach. However, since the announcement, one sticking point seems to have emerged around access to the Internet.
Under the hood improvements don't always get much love, but there is a segment of Android users that will be thrilled to hear about what Google has done for those working with audio. The headlining change is an API for MIDI, which is the primary interface for communicating music-oriented information between devices. The net result of this will be making it far easier for developers to create apps that interact with hardware for making music or other sorts of sounds.
Remember that "Voice Access" talk that was supposed to happen at I/O but was removed from the schedule? It turns out that, while it wasn't the full-on in-app voice craziness we had hoped for, Google did have some news about voice interactions to share.
Specifically, with Android M, Google has introduced the Voice Interaction API, which will allow apps to get a better handle on a user's voice-initiated requests. Check out the video below, by the leaders of a sandbox talk at I/O about voice actions.
The new API, as Google Search Developer Advocate Jarek Wilkiewicz explains, shouldn't be confused with custom voice actions.
Google added a battery saver mode in Android 5.0 that disables various features when you need to conserve juice. You could activate it manually or have it flip on at a certain battery level. Android M adds a third option—voice.
Sony doesn't have a huge presence in the US despite making a boatload of phones. Still, if you've got one, odds are good that you'll be seeing an Android 5.1 update in the coming months. The update will hit all Z series devices and a few of the mid-range models too.
Sprinkled inside the big M letter slide during Google I/O was a list of new features on the platform, most of which we have discussed (and some of which we are still to discuss) in our M Feature Spotlight articles. One of these was a mysterious "Undo/Redo keyboard shortcuts" that you can spot in the seventh line on the left in the image below.
After stumbling to figure out what this exactly was, we reached out to Dave Burke who explained that M now supports the CTRL+Z and CTRL+Shift+Z shortcuts in text fields in Android M. That is if you happen to be using a Bluetooth keyboard with your device. From our tests, it seems that the feature is a bit hit-and-miss on the M preview, and has a short window of time where you can trigger it, then nothing happens if you wait longer and try it.
Android TV has a serious app discovery problem, and it's the built-in "leanback" version of the Google Play Store. Before today, the Play Store on your TV only showed curated apps selected by the powers that be at Google, so between the video, audio, and game sections, there were less than two hundred apps on display for users. You might get the impression that these were the only Android TV apps available - the rest had to be manually searched for in the search function of the main leanback launcher.
With version 5.5.15, that finally changes. New sections of the Android TV Google Play Store are now visible beneath the curated portion, and based on a quick run-through, it looks like every compatible app for your ATV device is exposed.
Most over-the-air updates include a few bug fixes, maybe a new bloatware app or two, and are thus not really worth getting excited over. Not so for the latest addition to T-Mobile's customized version of the Sony Xperia Z3. In addition to the long-awaited upgrade to Android 5.0, today's update flips a software switch that enables access to band 12, the 700MHz spectrum that T-Mobile began using for LTE earlier this year. If the prospect of wider, faster LTE for your phone doesn't make you excited for an update, I don't know what will.
Beginning June 3, the Sony Xperia Z3 will have a mandatory software update to Android version 5.0.2/ Build 23.1.C.0.385 available via OTA push or Sony PC Companion over Wi-Fi only.