Last year, at Google I/O 2013, some major new features and improvements were announced for Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) -the replacement for Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM). A couple of the new bits were even featured during the keynote, particularly notification syncing, which the audience loved. The one thing most people don't know is that most of the coolest things announced that year were marked as beta and locked behind an application process.
If we're being honest, it's hard to deny that one of Android's most obnoxious flaws comes in the category of audio performance. Playing some music is generally fine, but the issues start to become obvious after introducing very high quality audio or trying to achieve precise timing or real-time processing. With the L Developer Preview, it appears that Google is driving to improve upon these weaknesses and give audio performance the shot of adrenaline it needs.
Android 4.4.4 is just a minor security update, but what's the point of buying these Nexus and Google Play Edition devices if you can't have the latest and greatest no matter how minor the update? The Google Play Edition Moto G is finally living up to expectations with an OTA to Android 4.4.4. Just like the LG G Pad Google Play Edition (that's the LGGPGPE for "short"), this device is making the jump straight from 4.4.2 to 4.4.4.
We had a little early information on the Project Hera task switching system before the announcement, but now things are becoming clearer as Googlers chime in with the specifics. At the I/O keynote, Google showed Chrome adding multiple tabs to the app switcher, but that's just the start of what's going to happen in Android L's multitasking.
Android L has brought a new version of the Google Keyboard with Material Design and an optional white KitKat theme, but if you're an avid fan of Swiftkey, its predictions, and themes, or any other third-party alternative, you will notice that the option to select your keyboard is now down in the right corner of the navigation bar, instead of the notification drop-down.
The new placement makes a lot more sense, because keyboard selection isn't a notification, is it?
If you couldn't make it to Google I/O, and thus couldn't get one of the first Android TV units as part of the developer swag, you can still start developing your apps for the platform's retail debut later in 2014. Google has included Android TV modules in the official Android SDK, underneath the Android L (API 20) package. That includes an emulator specifically for TV, so you should be able to build and test apps without any extra hardware.
All the talk about Android L this week overshadows the unfortunate fact that the previous release is still on less than 15% of Android devices. This weekend US Cellular is helping in a small way, releasing KitKat to two of its Samsung phones. The US Cellular versions of the Galaxy S4 Mini and the Galaxy Mega (6.3) are both being updated to KitKat, so those with the applicable hardware should keep an eye out for the over-the-air alert.
Let's be clear about this: developers don't have any kind of obligation to update their apps for the Android L preview release. It's a preview - by definition, it's not ready for prime time, and developers shouldn't have to immediately treat it like consumer software. That said, it's nice to see that some have already begun to prepare for the full Android L release later this year. Even relatively large players like Twitter are getting in on the action.
Basically all of Blu's phones as of the last year or so have been released with Android 4.2.2, leaving users waiting for any sign of an update to put them past Jelly Bean. We've known that the company planned on pushing KitKat to a number of devices towards the end of June, and it has now released the initial devices that will be the first to get 4.4, along with a statement on Facebook.