If you've recently updated your Nexus device from Jelly Bean to KitKat, there's a chance you're already being notified of an OTA update to KRT16S. If you're wondering what's changed, the collected list of source commits has been posted by Al Sutton. Most of the tweaks are pretty minor, including an improvement to the backup service, a few updated APNs for assorted carriers, and code to handle rare issues with the 3G Nexus 7 (2012) radio. However, there is one emergency fix for a serious bug that could result in the loss of access to encrypted disks on a device upgrading from 4.3 to 4.4. Read More
Google has released an early version of the Glass Development Kit, opening the doors for leagues of new developers to create software for the company's advanced pair of glasses. This is only a sneak peak that's subject to change at any time, but developers can already download it now and start creating apps for Glass right away. It's available directly within the Android SDK Manager.
Developers need to own a pair of Glass in order to test what they produce, as an emulator isn't included. This limits who can currently produce software for the platform, but for anyone who can surpass that bar, development amounts to taking an Android app and altering it to work with Glass. Read More
Back on Halloween, Google promised that proprietary binaries and factory images for the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 would arrive shortly after devices received their OTA updates. Even though some OTAs haven't even rolled out yet, as of a few minutes ago, all modern Nexus devices now have Android 4.4 KRT16O factory images and drivers available for download.
This means you can flash stock Android 4.4 onto any supported device, even if an OTA either wasn't available yet or wouldn't work for some reason. The availability of binaries/drivers, on the other hand, is great news for custom ROMs.
Note #1: If your bootloader is locked, your data will be wiped for security reasons - there's no way around that. Read More
By now you've probably heard about ART and how it will improve the speed and performance of Android, but how does it actually perform today? The new Android Runtime promises to cut out a substantial amount of overhead by losing the baggage imposed by Dalvik, which sounds great, but it's still far from mature and hasn't been seriously optimized yet. I took to running a battery of benchmarks against it to find out if the new runtime could really deliver on these high expectations. ART is definitely showing some promise, but I have to warn you that you probably won't be impressed with the results you'll see here today. Read More
Did you know it's possible to unlock your Nexus 5 bootloader without wiping user data? If your device has already been rooted and relocked for optimal security, then unlocking is just a button tap away thanks to the latest update to BootUnlocker. Support for Google's latest flagship phone was just added with an update to version 1.4 of the app from XDA member segv11. Sadly, both generations of the Nexus 7 from ASUS remain unsupported.
If you haven't heard about BootUnlocker, it's a simple utility app with a single purpose: toggling the locked state of the bootloader on supported Nexus devices. Read More
It's fair to say that Android went through some chaotic years in the beginning. The pace of development was frantic as the operating system grew at an unprecedented rate. An as-yet undetermined future led to decisions that were made to conform to existing hardware and architectures, the available development tools, and the basic need to ship working code on tight deadlines. Now that the OS has matured, the Android team has been giving more attention to some of the components that haven't aged quite as well. One of the oldest pieces of the Android puzzle is the Dalvik runtime, the software responsible for making most of your apps run. Read More
Advertising revenue is a huge part of doing business in the mobile apps space for a large number of developers. As such, from that practice have emerged methods to send advertisers information about you to better serve appropriate ads. Oftentimes, the way your advertising "profile" is specifically identified is less than ideal from a security standpoint. Many apps use your phone's IMEI - a potentially personally-identifying number - as your advertising identification number because every modern smartphone has one.
Another common practice that has emerged in mobile advertising is a lack of opt-out capabilities for such systems. This means users are often left with the choice of either accepting that some form of hopefully non-identifying personal information is being transmitted to an advertiser, or simply choosing not to use a particular app. Read More
Next in the line of KitKat feature spotlights is the addition of new motion-oriented UX elements meant to give users a dynamic, fluid experience while making it easier for developers to implement high quality animations.
Android 4.4's new transitions framework allows developers to define scenes and transitions. A scene is usually a view hierarchy, while a transition defines how the scene should transform when a user enters or exits it. Developers can use predefined transition types, an auto-transition type, or create custom transitions "that animate the properties that matter most to your app."
That said, developers don't actually have to define scenes to animate UI changes - they can also animate pieces on the fly. Read More
Yet another facet of KitKat worth pointing out today is the addition of new security enhancements to the OS. Security is one area that's frequently sensationalized with Android - it seems that every few days a scare story about Android malware creeps onto my Google News page. Google's eliminating security arguments (and possible arguments) one at a time, though, and has made a few key enhancements this time around.
First among them is a change to SELinux. For those not up to speed, SELinux - introduced in Android 4.2 - is essentially a set of kernel add-ons and tools that restricts pieces of software to run with only the bare minimum privilege set they require to function properly, and minimizes the damage a malicious program can do by tightly controlling security policy. Read More