11
May
ic_launcher_play_games

Remember how we told you Google Games was coming, and how it's going to pack multiplayer functionality, leaderboards, achievements, and stuff like that? That's happening. There are going to be cloud game saves too.

Fresh out of Google HQ, we've managed to score a copy of the new Google Play Services v3.1.36, which is very slowly rolling out to devices right now. For comparison, the current Play Services that most people have is v3.0.27.

08
May
nexusae0_ic_head_wake_up_large_lower_thumb

Man, Google Glass moves at the speed of light. This is crazy.

The big XE5 update just hit the interwebs, so that means it's time for a teardown! XE5 is still Android 4.0.4 based, but now we're up to build 4.0.4-665738; the old version was 4.0.4-625737.

The Glass Team is still extraordinarily messy; any new file usually has copies in a million different locations. Basically, everything ships in every APK.

02
May
ic_head_wake_up_large_lower

Despite not (yet) having Google Glass, I've managed to get a hold of a system dump, so it's time to have some fun for the day and see if Glass has any (more) hidden goodies for us. It'll also be fun to see just what makes Glass tick, and how the OS is laid out.

APK Teardown is usually at its best when I have a previous version to diff against and, you know, when I've actually used or at least seen the software in question.

18
Apr
nexusae0_GAMES1
Last Updated: April 20th, 2013

We've got a good one for you today. A teardown of MyGlass, yes that's right, the Google Glass companion app, has given us what looks like the entire Google Games Service feature list. You just can't make this stuff up.

The games service probably has nothing to do with Google Glass; Glass can't run complex apps. The Glass team accidentally shipped the full suite of Google Play Services with their new app, which is not normal.

16
Apr
app_launcher_icon

MyGlass, the Google Glass companion app, has just hit the Play Store.  Since no one actually has a pair of Google Glass yet, no one actually knows what this thing does. To save myself from going crazy while waiting for my Glass email, ripping apart this new app seemed like a good distraction.

Permissions

The package name is "com.google.glass.companion," and, naturally, this release is version 1.0.0. MyGlass has a decent amount of permissions, here are a list of the most important ones:

  • Access Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (ACCESS_WIFI_STATE/ACCESS_NETWORK_STATE/CHANGE_WIFI_STATE)
  • Google Voice Send and Receive permissions
  • Full account access (GET_ACCOUNTS/USE_CREDENTIALS/MANAGE_ACCOUNTS)
  • Receive and send SMS and MMS
  • Full location access (ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION/ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION)
  • Full internet access
  • Read contacts

So basically, it's a tethering app - a tethering app that Glass appears highly dependent on.

15
Apr
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For the first time in a million years, Google Voice got an actual update. While the changelog is, as usual, of no help whatsoever ("Improved the reliability of SMS delivery"), a teardown teases out an eyebrow-raising tidbit: Google Voice’s configuration settings can now be read by other apps.

The GV update comes packing a new service for handing out this info, called “GoogleVoiceConfiguration,” and a new permission, "com.google.android.apps.googlevoice.permission.FETCH_CONFIGURATION."

There’s an explanation of the permission in the strings file:

<string name="google_voice_fetch_configuration_permission_label">Read Google Voice configuration</string>
<string name="google_voice_fetch_configuration_permission_description">Allows applications to read the configuration of Google Voice, including your Google Voice phone number.</string>

That's about it for the cold, hard facts.

04
Apr
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Google Search teardowns are always a huge mess, because there's really no way of knowing what is or isn't implemented. I'm up against a scary combination of Now's entirely context-based UI and Voice Actions, which has absolutely no UI. Rather than try and guess at what does or doesn't work, I'll just post everything that Google neglected to add in the change log. If you manage to see something working, send in a screenshot and I'll add it.

01
Apr
icon_wakizashi

We've managed to score a system dump of the Facebook phone! There's nothing in it that's too earthshattering, and you could probably guess most of the features, but, since we've got it, we might as well take a look at it.

[This is not an April Fool's joke. I promise.]

Now, this being Facebook, nothing really works unless you sign in. The problem is, all of this is pre-release, so it's set up to only work for Facebook employee accounts.

19
Mar
ic_launcher_mail

Gmail 4.3 recently hit the streets, bringing with it a long-awaited (by me, at least) ability to archive email directly from the notification panel. It's awesome. But what else did Google sneak into our phones and tablets with this update? Let's find out.

Fair warning: this is going to be one of those teardown sessions that raises more questions than answers, so bring your speculation hat.

Experimental Preferences

Gmail has always had this wacky file in it called "experimental_preferences.xml." I've mostly ignored it, because it has only ever had two relatively-boring things in it: "full text search," which works already; and "Enable drag and drop contact chip," which would let you type a name into the "To:" field and move it to something like "CC:" by dragging it.

20
Feb
icon_white_backgound

Ok, here's a short and sweet edition of APK Teardown coming your way. Prepare yourself.

What's the one remaining thing a standalone GPS unit can do that Google Maps can't? (Besides work offline) Lane guidance.

lane-guidance-junction-view

Right now, Google Maps would best be described as "Turn guidance." It will tell you when to make a right turn, but that's about it. Lane guidance is a step further: Your next exit is coming up on the right, and a TomTom (pictured) will better prepare you to make the exit by directing you to the right hand lane in advance.

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