Android is really turning into a jack of all trades, having become the OS of choice for phones, tablets, face computers, and now wristwatches. The combination of flexibility, open source code, and low cost of entry make it a prime candidate for countless utilitarian purposes. With the upcoming release of Android L, Google is aiming to make it even easier to deploy highly specialized environments with a new feature called Task Locking that allows a single app to take control of the interface and prevent users from switching apps or even seeing notifications.
Task Locking isn't intended for use on average consumer-oriented phones or tablets. Read More
You saw Android Wear a couple of months ago when Google unveiled the SDK and both LG and Motorola presented the first promotional pictures. Then you watched the Google I/O keynote that officially launched the LG G Watch and Samsung's surprise addition of the Gear Live. And now you've got a shiny, brand new Android Wear watch before you... but all you can think about is ripping into the digital guts of that thing and doing all of the awful things that Google never intended. Admit it, you're one of us.
Android Police is here with a guide to fill all of your hacking and modding needs. Read More
Back in KitKat, we were introduced to translucent system bars, which gave app developers the ability to make the navigation and status bars semi-transparent. Reclaiming as much of the screen as possible became an obsession for many fans as they demanded their favorite apps go "full bleed." With Android L, Google is treating us to even more flexibility by allowing developers to set their own color for the status bar, or even turning it completely transparent.
Fundamentally, the translucent status bar was nothing more than a very low opacity static gradient from black to fully transparent. This was added to protect the visibility of KitKat's all-white notification icons. Read More
A couple of days ago, AOSP was graced with a series of freshly created "l-preview" branches and a massive push of brand new code. As we know now, quite a bit of that code push wasn't truly representative of the L developer preview. (Very sneaky, Google.) Most of the truly new updates belonged to GPL-licensed projects, which Google is obligated to release in a timely fashion. The remaining projects with "l-preview" branches were filled with a recent snapshot from the Master branch.
While we didn't get enough code to build our own versions of L, there is still an obscene amount to look at. Read More
It looks like Google is serious about getting the "L" preview out to developers in all of its forms, even as code. That's right, some of the source code is already live on AOSP!
It looks like all of the recent Nexus devices are covered - everything from the 2012 Nexus 7 up through to the Nexus 5. Of course, just because branches have been published for these devices, it is not absolute confirmation that this entire list of devices will receive an official L release. Nothing is certain until Google releases OTAs and/or factory images.
Note: there still aren't any binary packages or kernel sources for the Nexus devices, but these are probably coming fairly soon. Read More
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.
In the past, if a developer wants to run a background task to pull data from a server or run some processor-intensive work, the app has to listen for certain events or set an alarm to wake up at regular intervals. Read More
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.
Historically, Android's design philosophy about networking has dictated there should only ever be one connection to the Internet at a time. Read More
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. Plenty of developers were accepted, but it certainly wasn't available to everybody. This year, the restrictions are dropping and all developers are allowed to make full use of GCM. Read More
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. In a session at Google I/O 2014 titled "Building great multi-media experiences on Android," Glenn Kasten and Andy Hung took to the stage to explain the improvements appearing in the next revision of Android that can give us access to higher quality sound and greatly reduced lag in audio input. Read More
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. There was a similar emulator for Google TV.
That being said, an emulator usually isn't an ideal solution, since it will almost certainly be slower than the ADT-1 developer hardware. Read More