The Android ecosystem –as most of us think of it– is built on more than just an operating system and a marketplace for independent apps. It's largely shaped by dozens of services that have been built by Google, allowing developers to add rich features to their apps without building out expensive infrastructures. The Google Play services package is the core element in this equation, and it's getting a pretty major update to version 7.0 over the next couple of weeks.
It's only been a month since Lollipop made its debut on the platform distribution chart, and it's making decent headway. Android 5.0 more than doubled its standing, bringing the total from 1.6% to 3.3%. Most of this bump can be attributed to firmware updates that have been rolling out to 2014's flagship phones and tablets. Surprisingly, KitKat also increased its hold by 1.2%, totaling 40.9% of all Android devices.
Since Lollipop and KitKat only account for a combined 2.9% shift, most of the remaining versions of Android lost ground pretty evenly.
Google made news earlier this year when it announced that Android 5.0 Lollipop devices would ship encrypted by default. And indeed, the first few Lollipop devices (all Nexus) were encrypted out of the box. However, OEM Lollipop phones are not shipping with encryption enabled. It looks like Google is backing off on this requirement, pushing it to a future version.
Watch the video below. Watch it several times if you need to. Try to figure out what it's trying to promote. A remote and exclusive European ski resort? An auction house for classic Mercedes cars? Champagne intended only for use in questionably phallic gestures? Nope, it's Huawei's Watch. That's not a typo, it's actually called the Huawei Watch. Let's... um, watch.
The design of the Android Wear device looks more or less like the Moto 360, with its metal housing and thin bezels but without its signature "flat tire" screen cutout.
We're all looking forward to Google I/O. Some of us frequently check the official website to count the days until registrations are open, so we are familiar with the cool font and animations used for the event's hashtag and countdown. They're all about Material Design — layers, colors, shadows, FABs, and all the design elements that have populated our conscious and subconscious dreams for the past months.
Now you can count the time until I/O more accurately and with the same style, thanks to this IO 2015 Watch Face.
With Lollipop 5.0, most of the Contacts app graduated to a slick new experience inspired by material, but for some reason the contact creation/editing screens clung to old holo paradigms.
The newly tweaked editing layout in Android 5.1 makes a decidedly more thoughtful use of horizontal lines and adheres to material design's standard keylines (at 16 and 72dp) making for a cleaner, clearer interface with helpful iconography highlighting each type of field.
The Czar has spoken. After his anointment as Google's Senior Vice President of Products last October, which put him in charge of Chrome, Android, search, ad technology, Google+, Maps, social, commerce and infrastructure, Sundar had been operating in incognito mode, occasionally letting loose a few tidbits of information, like Inbox' deployment to Apps users. In a recent interview with Forbes, the man behind most of the things we talk about here on Android Police has answered some interesting questions regarding his vast portfolio of products, tried to put an end to a few concerns, and remained mum about other issues.
Ever wish your Android Wear device did more things? If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, you can make almost anything happen with AutoWear. It's the latest Tasker plug-in from joaomgcd, maker of popular Tasker projects like AutoRemote and AutoVoice. I hope he makes an Android Auto plugin called AutoAuto.
Google has had a fairly rough time convincing consumers to use Wallet for in-store purchases. However, with the recent acquisition of Softcard's "technology" alongside plans to preload Wallet on Android phones from most major US carriers, Google is putting its weight behind a renewed effort to be a major player at brick-and-mortar locations.