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Google Announces Android "N" Developer Preview: Available Today, Adds Multi-window, Improved Doze, And More

Did you expect to wake up to a new version of Android this morning? Probably not. But that's exactly what you're getting, and Google's letting the information fly fast and hard (... and in some cases, slightly before we expected) about the latest iteration of their mobile OS, at this time only known as "N." Like previous... previews... N doesn't have a version number or name yet, but it's chock-full of new features for users and developers alike, and the list of those features will grow as we near the final release. Let's break down the key facts.

  • Preview images: Android N preview images will be available today for the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, General Mobile 4G (Android One), Nexus Player, Nexus 9, and Pixel C.
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Hiroshi Lockheimer Says Android N Will Be Available In "Final Release" Form This Summer

Android N is here: have you heard? Of course you have (well, maybe a bit earlier than even we expected), because the internet is freaking littered with Android N news right now. But one piece you may not have broken out amongst all the ruckus was exactly when N is launching for real (read: this summer), as opposed to a developer preview. Well, Hiroshi Lockheimer, head of Android (and Chrome OS / Chromecast) at Google, dropped a little nugget of relevant info today in a post on Medium about Android N.

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Android N Feature Spotlight: Notification Shade Now A Lot More Powerful With Direct Reply And Notification Bundling

Android's notification shade is getting a lot more powerful in N, and two new APIs are the key to that: direct replies and bundling. On the surface, both of these things sound fairly unexciting, but in reality, they have the potential to make the notification shade a powerful multitasking tool that reduces the amount of time you spend doing quick tasks and entering apps when you don't actually need to.

inline-reply

First, let's hit the direct reply API. The wonderful ability to reply to messages in Google Messenger or Hangouts directly from the notification bar was, you may be surprised to learn, not a standard Android feature.

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AOSP Changelogs Posted For March's 6.0.1 And 5.1.1 Security Updates

The latest factory images for the Nexus family have landed and people are getting their updates. What are they updating to? The changelogs built from developer comments can probably answer that, or at least give some pretty good hints.

Like most of the monthly updates, at least since Google started this practice, March's update focuses on security.

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[No Cables, No Problem] Fastboot Gains Networking Capabilities, Wireless Flashing Isn't Far Off

If I were to say that I'm going to flash a new system image to your Nexus phone without attaching a USB cable, you might think I'm a little crazy. Well, I could be a little crazy, but that thing about the cable is definitely coming true in the very near future. Google has added networking support to the fastboot tool. When paired with a phone with a supported bootloader, it will be possible to perform all of the usual fastboot commands wirelessly.

In a recent commit to AOSP, support for the TCP protocol was added to fastboot. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the basic building blocks of communication on the Internet, used for reliable transmission of data from one point to another.

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InBrief
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Motorola Uploads Marshmallow Kernel Files For The 2015 Moto E LTE

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Google Explicitly Bans Ad Blockers From The Play Store, Except All Those Ad-Blocking Web Browsers, Apparently

Google has a brand-new website for content policy on the Play Store that it unveiled today, and that's nice, but nestled away in that news was a far more interesting story regarding ad blockers. Google has long enforced a de facto ban on ad blockers on the Play Store, citing section 4.4 of the Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement, going all the way back to 2013.

This involved a rather convoluted interpretation of a vague policy forbidding apps from interfering with third-party apps or services, but it's the official justification Google has used to date. Now, a new update to the Play Store Developer Policy Center (formerly Google Play Developer Program Policies) makes it clear via an example interpretation of said policy: no ad blockers.

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[Update: Beta Has Arrived] Remix OS 2.0 Graduates To Beta March 1st With 32-Bit Support, OTA, Dual Boot, And Still No Google Services


Jide Technology is focused on making Android more desktop-like. The company first kickstarted a Microsoft Surface-like tablet, then followed it with a small puck to turn any display into an Android desktop, the Remix Mini. When Michael reviewed the latter, he found the software interesting, but the hardware lacking. The third aspect of Jide's strategy was to release its Remix OS for free for anyone to install and use. Michael also reviewed it and called it promising while still pointing out its current limitations.

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Google Play Developer Console Provides New Tools For Understanding User Reviews

There are multiple reasons to leave a review in the Play Store. One is to convey to other users how good or bad an app is. Another is to communicate to the developer.

Google has recently changed up the dashboard that software creators see when they sign into the Developer Console. The new page shows how ratings have changed over the course of days, weeks, and months (pictured above). This overview makes it easy to see if the release of a new update has any effect on user impressions. Developers can also break down ratings by location, language, and other variables.

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Microsoft Acquires Xamarin To Make Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Easier

Microsoft makes a lot of apps for multiple platforms. It also makes a lot of tools that are used by other developers to build apps for multiple platforms. It only makes sense then that the company would be interested in buying Xamarin, one of the leading platform providers for mobile app development.

While you may not have heard of Xamarin, its solution counts as one of the invisible threads that play a role in running the Internet nowadays. The platform helps developers use a shared codebase in C# to build, test, and monitor native apps for iOS, Android, and Windows, all with the same IDE, language, and APIs.

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