Fun fact: Microsoft was working on "smart watches" a solid decade before the current craze. Microsoft partnered with Fossil and a few other watch makers to release SPOT Watches, which received information updates via FM radio broadcasts. I don't want to say that SPOT watches were terrible, and I don't have to, because this Cnet review does it for me. Maybe Microsoft is trying to capture the not-so-glorious days of early 2000s smartwatches, because the company's research division has just posted an experimental keyboard for Android Wear.
As evidence mounts that the official release of Android L may be days away, Google began rolling out yet another update to Play services, just one week after the previous update. As it turns out, there's a bit more than just a new icon, a few UI tweaks, and the usual bug fixes. This version brings some finishing touches to a couple of features, no doubt getting them ready to launch alongside the next version of Android.
Motorola has pushed an update to its camera app in the Play Store with a few performance improvements and remote shutter for Android Wear, just like the official Google camera. The new version also includes KitKat compatibility, according to the changelog. Strange considering KitKat has been out for a year, but okay.
Here's the full changelog just so we're clear.
- Remote shutter control for Android Wear watches
- Performance improvements and bug fixes
- Updated application will be compatible with Android KitKat
Motorola has taken a lot of heat for mediocre camera performance, but at least it can offer camera updates in the Play Store.
Back in June, Google announced Android was destined to gain 64-bit support in the coming L release. A few weeks later, Revision 10 of the Native Development Kit (NDK) was posted with support for the three 64-bit architectures that would be able to run the new version of Android: arm64-v8a, x86_64, and mips64. As we close in on the official release of Android L, Google has updated the NDK to revision 10b and added an emulator image developers can use to prepare their apps to run on devices built with Intel's 64-bit chips.
Google announced last year that the venerable Galaxy Nexus would not be getting any of that sweet, sweet KitKat action. Well, not officially anyway. Owners were not pleased, but they couldn't properly flood the internet with complaints because their phones were already dead. There have been a few KitKat ROMs that work well enough, but now some developers have created a kernel and GPU driver combo that could keep this device chugging along through the L release.
In case you missed it, the official help forum for Android Wear has gone live. There are many places to go online to get help with using your new smartwatch, but this Google Group is the place the company would probably prefer you go. It's also a location where you have a reasonable chance of getting an answer. We try to answer many of the questions that you pitch to us in the comments, but we don't see everything.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Excitement over products like the Ouya, nVidia's Shield line, and even numerous gamepads proves that gaming on Android has entered the mainstream. Developers have been jumping at the opportunity to build games that work across many of the different operating systems; and thanks to the Cross-Platform SDK, they're able to integrate most of the Play Games services into their products on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Until now, this SDK has lagged behind the SDKs for Android and iOS on one specific feature: real-time multiplayer support.