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Google releases Android Things Developer Preview 3

Fast on the heels of Developer Preview 2, Google has just pushed out their latest Developer Preview for Android Things, the IoT embedded platform based on Android.

Android Things was released at I/O in 2015 originally under the codename Brillo, and was meant to give existing Android developers a platform for embedded devices through the same tools and Android SDK they already know. At its most basic level Android Things is the same Android we all know and love applied to embedded devices like smart lights, doorbells, thermostats—that sort of thing—with some of the same APIs and tools that Android developers have used for years.

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Google open sources the 2016 Santa Tracker Web and Android apps

Christmas is here. Yes, I know it's April 6, but for developers and nerds, Christmas falls any day they can take the wraps off some code and look through every line and function to see how things are built. It's like finally being able to disassemble that remote controlled car after playing with it for weeks and seeing how the motor turns and triggers the wheels.

And Google does this every year: in December it releases the Santa Tracker, then a few months later, it open sources it for developers to put on their nerdy scuba masks and dive deep into what makes the magic real.

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Google is working on bringing Android Studio to Chrome OS

Chrome OS is often characterized (somewhat unfairly) as just a glorified web browser; and if your needs involve powerful photo editing tools like Photoshop, video editing packages like Adobe Premiere or Apple's Final Cut Pro X, modeling tools with complicated features like Blender or Solidworks, or an assortment of other powerful software tools, it's not hard to see how that perception came to be. Software development is another area where things aren't too rosy – unless you're a web developer. However, a clue has popped up that suggests Android Studio may be coming to Chrome OS.

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Google posts Android O overview video for developers

Android O is in the wild now, and developers are already toiling to bring new features to their apps. We're still a long way from release, but there are many new features for developers to play around with in the meantime. Google has posted a quick video to give devs (and curious normals) an overview of what's new in Android O.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon 835: The first benchmark results - comparisons to Pixel, OnePlus 3T, Galaxy S7, and more

Last week, I had the privilege of visiting Qualcomm's San Diego campus to check out the new Snapdragon 835 chip and run some benchmarks using Qualcomm's reference platform for the SoC. You'll never guess what happened next (you will: benchmarks).

Full disclosure: Qualcomm paid for me to ride the train to San Diego, which was very pretty, put me up in a great hotel next to Qualcomm HQ for two nights, and took me out to a very nice dinner... with an open bar. There was a taco station with really, really good Mahi-Mahi. The guacamole was also totally solid. We played cornhole.

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Android O feature spotlight: The install source permission is now limited to only user-authorized apps

Installing apps from outside of the Play Store can be a good thing (I mean, it's the whole basis for APKMirror), but it can also lead to trouble. For some time now, a user would have to go into the Security settings and toggle "Install from unknown sources." One of the many changes in Android O is to how this model works — that old option is gone and each app now must be granted the install source permission for APK installation.

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Android O feature spotlight: The status bar in the notification shade gets a bit more information-dense

If you pull down the status bar on your Google Pixel running Android 7.1, you'll see the time, day, date, and a settings quick access button in the status bar area. In the new Android O preview, things have been changed a bit. For one, we have a much cleaner font for the time and date information. But we also still see our connectivity statuses for Wi-Fi and mobile data, the current battery percentage (plugged in or unplugged), and the individual battery icon is gone (it now just toggles battery saver). Compare below - current Nougat on top, new O version on the bottom.

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Android O feature spotlight: Custom shortcuts can now be added to the lockscreen via System UI Tuner

Google's version of Android has historically been relatively light on features, but the Mountain View-based company has been rapidly closing that gap. Other implementations of Android have had multi-window for a while now, but that took until 7.0 Nougat to make its way onto stock Android. Now, we're getting another feature that we've seen on other skins: custom lockscreen shortcuts.

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Android O feature spotlight: The settings app has been completely overhauled

While Android 7.0 already offered a pretty extensive rethink on Android's stock settings app, it appears Android O will go a step even further than that, overhauling the interface and navigation model extensively.

The first thing you'll notice is that Google is moving to an organizational approach much more like a smartphone manufacturer, organizing categories of settings at higher levels, resulting in a much shorter top-level settings list. It's half or less the size of the settings menu on the Pixel on the current Nougat beta - which should tell you how extensive a change this is.

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Android O feature spotlight: It looks like Android may be getting native support for themes

I cannot fault people for loving the theme support present in certain OEM and custom ROMs. The fact that Google has never implemented them in any sort of official way has been a frustration to many, but we did find something very interesting in the Android O preview. In the display settings, there is a section for "Device theme," which has two options. Hm...

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