Android Beam has been around since 4.0, but the NFC sharing tool has always been a little awkward (I think I've used it successfully twice in three years), since it relies on both phones physically detecting each other in proximity before you can even initiate the sending process. In the preview versions of the "L" release, Beam finally gets its own dedicated option in the standard Android Share menu, which should make it much less ambiguous.
In the "news that will ease your OCD" category, Android "L" finally adds proper support for the battery percentage trick we were first made aware of in Android 4.4. Yes, you still have to download an app from XDA (or use a couple lines of ADB commands) from this post to get it working in the first place, but in the "L" release it no longer periodically disappears or decides not to work in certain situations.
So, the Android L developer preview is here for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013, Wi-Fi) and a few of us here at AP have been playing with it today. The changes are vast and quite drastic (but all pretty damn good thus far), and we want to highlight a few of the more notable things.
The lockscreen is one of the areas that's getting a pretty heavy makeover in the L release (henceforth just known as L), and, since it's generally the first thing you see when a device is turned on, seemed like a logical starting point.
There have been rumblings of RAW-style image capture support in Android for some time now, and it looks like the "L" release will finally bring photographers everywhere the freedom to individually process and archive their smartphone photos DSLR-style. The "L" developer documentation specifically mentions the new DngCreator class, an API that will allow camera apps to capture images and save them in the Digital Negative format, an open standard published by Adobe as a more generally-compatible alternative to RAW images (which generally require OEM or camera-specific plugins).
Ever wondered why you have to open up a PDF in Android on Chrome or using a 3rd-party viewer? Well, it's because up until now Android hasn't had a native PDF rendering tool in place. As of Android "L," it does. If you're on Android 4.4 or below, try opening a PDF in the Drive app - you'll be sent to whatever your native PDF viewing tool happens to be.
Now, if you're on the "L" preview release, do the same thing in Drive (make sure no PDF viewers are installed, that might break this behavior), and you'll see the PDF displays natively in the app.
The images are live, and that means developers (and not developers) all over the world are getting their first taste of whatever version Android L is going to be (I assume 5.0). This is the most significant change Android has ever seen, but the version we're getting is slightly different than what Google showed off at I/O, but let's take a quick look at what we do get to play with.
Google has just released the "L" preview factory images for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013) Wi-Fi, and you can get them right now. Here are direct links:
- Nexus 5 (GSM/LTE) "hammerhead": hammerhead-lpv79-preview-ac1d8a8e.tgz
- Nexus 7 (Wi-Fi) "razor": razor-lpv79-preview-d0ddf8ce.tgz
Go! And if you're a developer, the "L" preview SDK is available now, as well.
Developers, ROMers, countrymen - lend me your ears, because the SDKs for both the Android "L" release preview and Android Wear have just landed. Just fire up the SDK manager (be sure to update your SDK tools!) and you should see both are ready for downloading immediately, so you can start digging around in the latest Android releases.
The Wear SDK was actually released as a preview a few months back, but today is the real deal, with all the Wear resources you'll need to get developing great wearable experiences for the Gear Live, LG G Watch, and Moto 360.
Of particular interest in this video is the way the display works. When not in use, the Moto 360 display appears to be on, but very dim. So you'd be able to look at your wrist and see the time without touching it.
Google took its sweet time updating the Nexus-style Google Play Edition of the G Pad 8.3 to Android 4.4.3, but it looks like they had a good reason. The tablet has been zipped straight to 4.4.4, and the over-the-air update should be going out now. If you're not willing to wait - and it might be a few days, considering the staggered rollout - we've got a link to the update ZIP file below.