Back in KitKat, we were introduced to translucent system bars, which gave app developers the ability to make the navigation and status bars semi-transparent. Reclaiming as much of the screen as possible became an obsession for many fans as they demanded their favorite apps go "full bleed." With Android L, Google is treating us to even more flexibility by allowing developers to set their own color for the status bar, or even turning it completely transparent.
It's raining wearable apps. After Google, Delta, Duolingo, and IFTTT updated their apps with Android Wear functions, it looks like the floodgates have opened. The Google Play Store now has a page dedicated to apps that include support for Wear, including Google's own apps and the ones we've already covered. The page is propagating through the Play Store right now, so you might not be able to see it quite yet.
Owners of the LTE variant of the Nexus 7 2013 have kind of been left out in the cold when it comes to the latest Android updates. While most of the other current Nexus devices (including the WiFi version of the same tablet) are running Android 4.4.4, a lot of N7 LTE users are still back on 4.4.2. Those who know their way around a bootloader can install the factory image for 4.4.3, but until now there was no standard over-the-air update.
I'd just like to thank Google for expanding Android to two new platforms this year (Android TV doesn't count). Now we've got twice as many opportunities to talk about over-the-air software updates. The LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, both running nearly identical builds of Android Wear, are being updated to the slightly newer KMV78V build today. Owners should be seeing the update alert over the next few days if they haven't already.
A couple of days ago, AOSP was graced with a series of freshly created "l-preview" branches and a massive push of brand new code. As we know now, quite a bit of that code push wasn't truly representative of the L developer preview. (Very sneaky, Google.) Most of the truly new updates belonged to GPL-licensed projects, which Google is obligated to release in a timely fashion. The remaining projects with "l-preview" branches were filled with a recent snapshot from the Master branch.
There are a flurry of Android apps being updated to support the new Wear watches, but perhaps none of them has as much potential for genuine utility as If This, Then That (IFTTT). The popular service-linking system just launched its Android component back in April, but they're wasting no time in jumping on the Android Wear platform. The app has been updated to include Wear support, and the service itself is adding recipes for actions started from Wear.
Google didn't spend enough time on Material Design during the keynote. We saw a beautiful video and learned a little bit about the intent and thought behind Google's new cross-platform look (which we actually saw a bit earlier than anticipated), but there's so much more to be said. Having attended as many design sessions as possible during I/O, I think it's worth taking a somewhat closer look at Material Design. In this post we'll attempt to scratch a little bit deeper into what Material means, why it's awesome, and why it's a forward-looking move for Google.
It looks like all of the recent Nexus devices are covered - everything from the 2012 Nexus 7 up through to the Nexus 5. Of course, just because branches have been published for these devices, it is not absolute confirmation that this entire list of devices will receive an official L release.
Battery life on Android has been a bit of a sore spot for many users, mostly because it's simply not good enough. Most devices can make it a day on moderate use, and a few can even do so comfortably, very few phones can hit two days without some time on the charger. The Android "L" release is making several improvements to power efficiency via Project Volta, but there are also ways to improve 3rd-party apps, and that's where the new Job Scheduler comes in.
At Google I/O last week, Google announced Project Volta, its effort to change and drastically improve how Android manages battery life. Since then the folks over at Ars Technica have downloaded the publicly available L developer preview build and put it through its paces. Is there a noticeable difference? Yes, apparently. They were able to get an an extra two hours of battery life out of their Nexus 5, an improvement of thirty-six percent.