Sundar Pichai let something of a bomb drop in regard to data privacy in apps on Android today at I/O, potentially addressing a long-standing complaint that the OS doesn't allow users enough control over what apps can do with their information, or if they can access it at all. Now, there's a tool to manage your privacy in Android, and it's called Universal Data Controls.
No interface was demoed, no real details were provided, and we don't even know if this is actually just putting all the existing Google privacy settings in a dedicated area and giving them a fresh coat of paint.
Just a couple quick tidbits from the I/O keynote in case you missed them: Google will be publishing factory image previews of the "L" release of Android for the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (presumably 2013 only) tomorrow morning, that being June 26th. We're guessing anyone can download them, so long as you're comfortable flashing an image to your device.
You can see a few more features and APIs in the L here.
An unexpected treat came zooming out of Google HQ today as Android 4.4.4 OTAs and factory images have started rolling out for Nexus devices. The updates have already been posted to AOSP and Al Sutton quickly followed up with a list of the changes. Since 4.4.3 is only 2 weeks old, and I/O is merely a week away, we had a feeling this was just a security update, and it looks like that's all it is.
Most of the significant changes are centered around fixing a recently discovered vulnerability in OpenSSL.
As one of the world's largest advocates for web access in emerging markets, Facebook obviously cares very much just how well its own platform works on mobile devices in those markets. As such, Facebook sent a team of product managers and engineers to various regions in Africa to learn more about just how people were using the service, on which devices, and what the major pain points for the app were.
It looks like Google is putting the last nail in Dalvik's coffin, and the new Android Runtime (ART) is about to take the throne. A pair of commits turned up last night in the master branch of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository that spell certain doom for the Android runtime we've known and loved for all these years. The first of the two changes completely wipes the /libdvm (Dalvik Virtual Machine) folder from AOSP, and the second takes care of changing all of the relevant configuration files and startup scripts to call on the ART runtime.
Jeff Bezos took to the stage earlier today to announce Amazon's first entrant into the highly competitive smartphone industry, the Fire Phone. Not only was the presentation loaded with some of the shiny new features of the handset and Fire OS, all meant for the press to disseminate to potential buyers, but there were also a few unusually blunt efforts to attract developers. In the midst of demonstrating Firefly and Dynamic Perspective, portions of the presentation were focused on explaining that developers would be able to extend these platform features in their own apps.
Since the Chromecast debuted, Google has had partnered apps featured at chromecast.com/apps. According to a tip we received this evening, and a post by Leon Nicholls to the Google Cast Developers community, it looks like Google might be ready to show off third-party apps at the same URL.
The Google Cast Developer console has been updated, allowing users to enter details about their apps for inclusion on the Chromecast site.
While the majority of Nexus and GPE devices have received their Android 4.4.3 OTAs relatively quickly, the rollout for certain other devices has certainly been... unusual. We still haven't heard anything about the 2013 Nexus 7 LTE, the LG G Pad 8.3 GPE, or the Moto G GPE, and until today, the OTA for the 2012 Nexus 7 Wi-Fi (I've been waiting for it to post both Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi+3G links together).
Most people familiar with the Nexus program know that each new Android update usually brings with it a new set of driver "blobs" for each supported phone and tablet in the product line. Even though these proprietary binaries are usually the latest versions when they come out, Google still occasionally receives updates to the drivers even when it's not a good time to issue an OTA. As we've just witnessed from the long lead time on the 4.4.3 release, it can take quite a while before an update is rolled out.