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Android Studio v0.8 Finally Leaves Behind Preview Title, Emerges As Beta With Tons Of New Features

 

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.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: New Camera API Enables Burst Mode, Thorough Control Over Photos, And Much 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.

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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.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: Accessibility Gains Color Inversion And Color Blindness Compensation

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.

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Android Wear FAQs And Tips Up On Google Support Site, Here Are Some Of The Interesting Ones

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.

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PSA: Guys, Android "L" Isn't A Stable Release, And Things Are Inherently Going To Be Broken

We've already started receiving a ton of emails from concerned readers about L's app compatibility issues, broken functionality, and the like. Of course, we understand how frustrating this can be, but that's actually the point of the developer release.

One of the primary purposes behind Google releasing L for the Nexus 5 and 7 is so developers can get their apps updated before the stable version rolls out, as the switch from Dalvik to ART requires apps to be updated to add support for the latter.

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Google Keyboard 3.1 From Android L Developer Preview Ported To All 4.0+ Devices [APK Download]

The new Google keyboard in Android L brings the Material Design aesthetic to text input, but the APK pulled from L doesn't work quite right on other Android builds. It actually breaks the keyboard for most devices. No worries, though. An XDA user has tweaked it to work correctly on (probably) all Android 4.0 and higher devices. There is one method that requires root (it's actually a ZIP file) and one that might not work on all devices that's an APK.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: System-Wide Data Compression For WebViews

Developers who need to display web content as part of an app have the option of using Android's built-in WebView class. WebView renders a webpage without JavaScript and ignores errors. It's fine for reading content and saves devs from implementing a full-fledged browser. There's an experimental setting in Android L's developer options that could make WebViews much cooler – data compression.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: OpenGL ES 3.1 Support For Prettier Games

Among Android L's many, many features is one that will set game developers' hearts aflutter – support for the recently announced OpenGL ES 3.1. This is the cross-platform rendering API used in many games, both mobile and desktop. Android L's support for v3.1 of the standard brings a ton of new capabilities.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: Write Wi-Fi Passwords To NFC Tags Directly From Android

You know the scenario: friends come over, want to use your Wi-Fi, and expect you to just hand over the password. I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty weird about just giving my password to everyone who walks through the door, regardless of how well I know them. Most of time I opt to type my password in for them, but there is an easier way: store your Wi-Fi info on an NFC tag.

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Android "L" Feature Spotlight: Stock Recovery Gains Reboot Into Bootloader And Power Down Options

Compared to the popular third-party alternatives, Android's stock recovery has always been pretty...weak. Makes sense, because it's not really meant to do all the stuff that ROM flashers tend to use recovery for, but rather a failsafe of sorts in case something goes awry.

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With L's Android release, the recovery is getting a little bit more useful with two new options: reboot to bootloader and power down. Nothing groundbreaking here, but still incredibly useful (especially "reboot to bootloader") for those times when stock recovery is the only option.

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