It seems like forever since we did our last teardown for Google Glass, but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of things happening for the former Google[x] project. XE16 brought the first ever change in OS version, taking Glass from 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) all of the way to 4.4.2 (KitKat). A minor hotfix from build followed with an undisclosed set of changes and a minor bump in build number.
So we all know that Project Tango is cool – programing a mobile device to be aware of its own surroundings just as people are can be potentially beneficial in many ways. NASA has clearly seen something in the in Tango as well, as the company has been working with Google since last year to utilize the project with its own robotic platform called SPHERES. In a nutshell, it wants to incorporate Tango into autonomous, space-aware robots that will take some of the load off of astronauts on the International Space Station by doing some of the work for them.
Two days ago, Google Glass received the XE16 update that bumped the device up to KitKat, introduced photo bundles, brought in sorted voice commands, and added a number of other features. This release was different for a few reasons, the most notable of which being the long wait (the last release was XE12 back in December).
Now the Glass team has released the update's system image to the Internet. The file is available for download from the usual location.
The lottery situation with Google I/O this year means nobody is guaranteed entry. Google knows this. And it's Google we're talking about. So they planted a bunch of secret codes you can redeem for a guaranteed I/O ticket. The hunt is already on, and some lucky folks have already won.
Correction: You don't win free tickets, but rather a guaranteed opportunity to buy them.
Good scavenger hunts are tough, and the best ones don't even announce the rules.
In a rare (and very amusing) fireside chat between Matias Duarte and Joshua Topolsky, we heard that I/O 2014 might put significantly more attention on great design as a topic. Today, a post on Google's Developer Blog is here to back up that declaration and adds that there will be sessions and workshops geared for designers and developers interested in improving their products. While there still hasn't been an official session list posted, this is surely meant to encourage designers to apply for registration before the window closes on Friday.
Earlier today, Google released a dedicated camera app into the Play Store. This would have been news on its own, as this method of distribution allows for camera updates without having to wait for a new firmware to come along. But the goodies didn't stop there. Google has completely redesigned the app, and while your opinion may vary, here's mine - it's better.
Why, You Ask?
For starters, there's a new lens blur effect that I've already elaborated on in great detail.
Along with two new apps, today's Update Wednesday has brought us a new version of YouTube with version 5.6.31. The previous version was 5.5.27, so it became clear right away that we should expect something relatively significant as opposed to simple bug fixes. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disappoint those of you still waiting for offline and screen-off playback - those are not here just yet. There are no major UI changes either.
Photo Sphere product manager Evan Rapoport, who also manages Maps, Street View, Views, and Panoramio, had one more tidbit of Google Camera-related news to convey today. In a post to Google+, Rapoport announced that photo spheres had gotten a major boost to 50MP (about 11776x5884 pixels). This is up from around 8MP in the previous app, and the results are beautiful.
Most of the time, we execute APK teardowns by comparing the code of older app versions to an updated version. Newly released apps can hold juicy information too, though. We've quickly taken apart Google's newly released camera app and discovered a few tidbits worth mentioning.
Our primary target for this teardown is the strings file. This file holds a wealth of strings not yet revealed in the interface that look like they'll bring missing features back and add some new ones, too.