Battery life on Android has been a bit of a sore spot for many users, mostly because it's simply not good enough. Most devices can make it a day on moderate use, and a few can even do so comfortably, very few phones can hit two days without some time on the charger. The Android "L" release is making several improvements to power efficiency via Project Volta, but there are also ways to improve 3rd-party apps, and that's where the new Job Scheduler comes in.
If it's not already completely obvious, the L Developer Preview is shaping up to be an absolutely massive sea change for Android. While we've been treated to an entirely new design language called Material, a redesigned Recents screen, huge performance improvements, and over 5000 other new APIs and features for developers, it's easy to overlook plenty of exciting improvements that aren't quite as flashy. One such change was briefly mentioned by Dan Sandler during the "What's new in Android" session: Multi-Networking, the capability to maintain multiple network connections simultaneously.
Last year, at Google I/O 2013, some major new features and improvements were announced for Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) -the replacement for Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM). A couple of the new bits were even featured during the keynote, particularly notification syncing, which the audience loved. The one thing most people don't know is that most of the coolest things announced that year were marked as beta and locked behind an application process.
If we're being honest, it's hard to deny that one of Android's most obnoxious flaws comes in the category of audio performance. Playing some music is generally fine, but the issues start to become obvious after introducing very high quality audio or trying to achieve precise timing or real-time processing. With the L Developer Preview, it appears that Google is driving to improve upon these weaknesses and give audio performance the shot of adrenaline it needs.
If you couldn't make it to Google I/O, and thus couldn't get one of the first Android TV units as part of the developer swag, you can still start developing your apps for the platform's retail debut later in 2014. Google has included Android TV modules in the official Android SDK, underneath the Android L (API 20) package. That includes an emulator specifically for TV, so you should be able to build and test apps without any extra hardware.
Android Studio was first introduced to the world a little over a year ago at Google I/O 2013. At the time, it was coined a "Developer Preview" to indicate that it wasn't ready for major development projects, but people were welcome to experiment with it. In the following months, Android Studio has progressively improved, swatting many of the bugs and adding truly valuable features for developers and interface designers. After a long, and sometimes frustrating road, the upstart IDE is finally trading in its 'Developer Preview' moniker in favor of a shiny new 'Beta' tag.
The Android team has been hard at work replacing old code that hasn't scaled well with newer and more powerful hardware. We've long known that the camera API was destined to see a massive update, but we were missing details like a release date or exactly what was coming. Thanks to the L release, we can finally see what has been in the works for all these many months.
One of the most important aspects of the new Camera 2 API is a dramatic increase in performance over the previous interface.
Google is slowly expanding support for developers all over the world, and while devs in hundreds of countries can publish Android apps on the Google Play Store, only a small subset can charge money for them. After extending support to eight new countries last month, Google has added another nine today, bringing the total up to 54. Here are the new additions:
- Belarus (US Dollars)
- Chile (Chilean Pesos)
- Colombia (Colombian Pesos)
- Costa Rica (Colón)
- Egypt (Egyptian Pound)
- Kazakhstan (US Dollars)
- Kuwait (US Dollars)
- Nigeria (US Dollars)
- United Arab Emirates (Dirham)
To be clear, customers in these countries could already download and/or pay for Android apps on Google Play, and developers could already upload free apps, but after today they can charge for apps and in-app purchases and collect revenue from a Google Play Merchant account.
If you want in on the action, head to the Google Play Developer console and set up a Merchant account for $25 USD (or your local equivalent).
Android 4.4 contained a number of interesting and very powerful features for developers, many of which went unused or misunderstood for quite a long time. Since it was introduced in KitKat, The Storage Access Framework (SAF) may be one of the best examples of an API that has been underutilized, despite offering a great method to provide cleaner and more informative interfaces. I even theorized that it may ultimately take the place of file system access.
Developers and Android information fanatics, this is just a quick PSA that the official API overview, developer materials, and L Developer Preview reference are all now available on the Android developers site. The API overview can be found here, and the developer reference is right here.
If you want a detailed, piece-by-piece breakdown of the developer-facing changes in Android, the developer reference is by far your best bet. It includes tons of information, what's been added, what's been changed, and what's been removed in the "L" release.