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? Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
Android Studio was first introduced to the world a little over a year ago at Google I/O 2013. At the time, it was coined a "Developer Preview" to indicate that it wasn't ready for major development projects, but people were welcome to experiment with it. In the following months, Android Studio has progressively improved, swatting many of the bugs and adding truly valuable features for developers and interface designers. After a long, and sometimes frustrating road, the upstart IDE is finally trading in its 'Developer Preview' moniker in favor of a shiny new 'Beta' tag. Read More
The Android team has been hard at work replacing old code that hasn't scaled well with newer and more powerful hardware. We've long known that the camera API was destined to see a massive update, but we were missing details like a release date or exactly what was coming. Thanks to the L release, we can finally see what has been in the works for all these many months.
One of the most important aspects of the new Camera 2 API is a dramatic increase in performance over the previous interface. The Camera 2 system is now capable of delivering full resolution images at the same speed the hardware can capture them thanks to a fully synchronized pipeline model. Read More
Perhaps you don't wander into the Android accessibility settings very much, but some users will be very happy to see what's going on in this menu as of the L release. Literally, they will be happy to see it. Android L has support for color inversion and correction for color blindness.
As Google typically does upon the release of a new product, it has updated its support documentation with a series of common questions and issues users may find themselves facing when using Wear devices. Some are pretty handy. For example, if your phone is too far from your watch to maintain the pairing connection, you lose voice action controls. You can still set alarms, check your calendar, step count, heart rate, and a few other basic features, though. Read More