It was only a couple of days ago that the Play Store got updated to version 6.7 with several new features including better access to betas and beta feedback, features that were soon reverted through a sever-side switch probably because they were revealed a little prematurely. Now we have official word from Google about those new betas as well as plenty of other goodies for Google Play that are in store for users and developers alike.
Better Beta Access
You'll no longer need to scour Google+ or read Android Police to find out about app betas. Wait, come back, please keep reading Android Police so I can get paid.
The first two N Developer Previews were alpha releases, so naturally a good number of things didn't work correctly. One of the apps that purposely did not work as intended was Android Pay, which produced a screen saying it was disabled until a future release. As Developer Preview 3 is now officially a beta, the Android team has seemingly seen fit to restore Android Pay to working order.
The reason Android Pay now works is because Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) is now approved. This also means other apps that depend on CTS should work too. On Developer Preview 1 and 2, this was not approved, and so Android Pay did not work.
There were plenty of features announced at Google I/O yesterday regarding Android and some of those new things are meant for Android Auto - Google's car dashboard system. The most exciting of them is the fact that you will no longer need an Auto-enabled vehicle to be able to benefit from the simplified car-friendly interface while you're driving. You can also learn more about the features in our video, below.
In the next few months, Android Auto will get several interesting additions. First is Waze compatibility with the app running on your dashboard and keeping you in the loop of hazards ahead and potential delays and problems. Second is OK Google hotwording which will activate voice commands when you say "OK Google" instead of requiring you to press a button to start listening.
One of the promised features of Android N was launcher shortcuts, a way for developers to include additional actions in their app's launcher icon following a certain gesture. There were dynamic shortcuts, pinned shortcuts, and a lot of interesting things for developers to explore that you can read about in Cody's exploration of the feature.
But Launcher Shortcuts are going away. Recode had already reported the rumor that Google was going to delay their introduction, and it turns out that was true. The latest developer documentation explains that Launcher Shortcuts will be deferred to a future version of Android (so not N) and that their APIs will be removed from the Android N API starting with the next developer preview.
You know how you can usually type some combination of Alt or Ctrl or Cmd with the question mark on your computer to surface a list of available keyboard shortcuts in whatever app you're using? Android is about to get the same option, which is great if you plan on using something like the Pixel C for work.
The trigger for the overlay is Alt + / (on Chrome OS, it's Ctrl + Alt + /). Once you tap that on your physical keyboard, it should show a screen with all of the keyboard shortcuts that are available from the system and your currently used app.
Do you like Spotify? Do you want to listen to all of your playlists, stream new albums, and discover interesting artists from your Android TV unit? Until today, you could only use a third-party client (Emma for Spotify) that required a premium account. But today, you can finally use Spotify's own app which doesn't even require a paid account.
"Spotify Music for Android TV" as it is aptly called lets you check your playlists, albums, and tracks, as well as discover new music while also enjoying the album artwork on your TV. Apparently the app says that it requires a gamepad controller, but reviewers on the Play Store are saying it works just fine with a regular Android TV remote or the Android TV remote app.
Earlier this month, Google updated the Google Keyboard to version 5.0 with plenty of new gestures, optional borders, one-handed mode, and more features. However, version 5.0 was not compatible with Android N, so those running the Preview couldn't benefit from it.
This is now fixed with Android N's third Preview. The new image includes Google Keyboard 5.1 that not only brings all of the same changes, but also adds two new cool features: themes and all those new emojis we were promised with Android N. Unfortunately, there's no sign of that iOS GBoard action. Oh bugger.
Google Keyboard 5.1 includes a new setting section for themes.
Long ago in the far-off time of last year, NVIDIA announced a handful of current and last-gen console titles would be released for the Android TV-powered SHIELD. It took a long time, but eventually most of the promised high-profile games came along, including Metal Gear Rising, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, and War Thunder, but one of the more long-standing franchises was still a no-show before today. Capcom's Resident Evil, or at least the fifth entry in the main series, is available on the SHIELD TV right now.
Google has detailed a new capability you can look forward to in Android N, but it's not entirely new. If you've used a Chromebook for any length of time, you've seen so-called seamless updates before. Now Android too will be able to install OTA updates in the background, and you'll be done the next time you reboot.