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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Deep Linking Without Selector Prompts Can Be Changed Or Removed By Users On A Per-App Basis

We reported yesterday on Google's announcement that Android M would support deep links that skip the sometimes-annoying app selector prompt. Details were scarce at the time and many were worried that this would shut out third party apps or make it hard to view content with a browser when it might be more appropriate.

Screenshot_20150528-145229 Screenshot_20150528-153957

If you go to an app from the list within the "apps" section of the system settings, you will see something like the first picture. You can set defaults and decide whether that app should open its own links without asking. If you go to the advanced area instead of selecting an app, you will see the second screenshot.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] The New Share Menu Is Simplified, Shows Many More Apps At Once Instead Of One Option Per Line

For many, this one falls into the category of "fixing problems you didn't know you had." If you have a lot of apps installed, though, you probably have already been frustrated by the share menus on previous Android versions. God forbid the app you want falls too low in the alphabet, because you will be scrolling like the dickens to share with it. Android developers clearly recognized that they were really wasting some space, so the Android M version is a lot more efficient.

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Left and middle: the old share menu Right: the new one

If you look closely, you'll notice that you can actually see more share options in the compact version of the new menu than you could in the fully expanded view of the old one.

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Google Cast Gets New APIs, Allowing For Second-Screen Functionality, Autoplay, Queuing, And More

Google Cast is one of those things that just seems to keep getting better, and with Chromecast sales doing so well, it's no wonder Google is throwing resources at the platform to make it even more robust. While not technically a part of Google I/O, Google did announce yesterday that some very awesome new Cast APIs are coming... right now. As in, they're here - for both iOS and Android.

There are a few major new features, so let's go over them.

The first is second-screen functionality. Casting graphically intensive apps from your device is no longer limited to simple mirroring - the new Cast Remote Display APIs (which are betas, so beware) will allow full-on second-screen functionality when casting something like a video game.

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Google Open-Sources Its I/O 2015 Web App

Google's I/O conference app is generally considered a boon for developers. Each year the app is open-sourced following the conference, exposing the code beneath Google's latest design suggestions and functionality on Android.

This year, however, Google is offering up another open-source goodie. In a post to Google+, Google Developers announced that this year the source of the I/O web app will be released for inspection. In fact, the ioweb2015 project is already available on Github.

The dazzlingly-designed web app is mobile-first and offline enabled, and comes with a long list of impressive functionality. A few features Google chose to specify include "Polymer, material design, web components, service worker, push notifications, google sign-in 2.0, add to homescreen, and web animations APIs."

Knowing that, it's clear that the site is well-rounded from functionality, design, and UX standpoints, so the source undoubtedly holds some treasures for intrepid developers.

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Google Releases Cardboard Design Lab To Walk You Through VR Design... In VR

Since debuting at last year's I/O, Google's Cardboard effort hasn't slowed down. Google has been making it easier and easier for manufacturers and developers to hop on board with its vision of virtual reality, and the project got some major updates yesterday. On stage, Google showed off a new Cardboard viewer that accommodates bigger phones (including those running iOS), 360 degree videos, and expeditions for classrooms.

Just last month, Google announced its "Works with Cardboard" program, along with new design guidelines and today Google has released an app that will make those guidelines tangible for VR developers and designers - Cardboard Design Lab.

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Google's ATAP Introduces Project Jacquard To Make Interactive Textiles Easier To Produce And Use

Combining metallic alloys with natural or synthetic threads, Google's ATAP and its industrial partners have created Jacquard yarn. Named for Joseph Marie Jacquard's inventions, the yarn is the basis for ATAP's Project Jacquard, an effort to make it easy for textile makers to weave interactive surfaces into everyday textiles like clothes and furniture. These surfaces would ultimately control things like mobile devices, and perhaps evolve into experiences and functions of their own. Jacquard yarn allows these new surfaces to either be plainly visible or completely hidden from the user so, just like regular yarn, designers can decide exactly how a surface will appear - or not appear, as the case may be.

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Smart Lock Passwords Is Now Going Live On Pre-Android M Devices, Web Interface Is Active Too

One of the relatively hidden treasures of yesterday's I/O announcements and Android M preview release was Smart Lock Passwords, which takes credentials you've signed in with on Chrome or for Android apps and automatically signs you in on those platforms in the future. At launch, there are not many app partners, but developers need only use a now-public API to add support. Today, Lollipop users with relatively recent Google Play Services are finding the new feature enabled on their devices as well.

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[Update: Android Too, And Content Descriptors] Google Play Store Listings Start Showing The New Content Ratings And Interactive Elements On The Web

Back in March, Google announced a few changes to its Play Store listings — a content rating system and a manual approval process for apps. The latter had been in effect for a while, but the former is now showing up on the web version of the Play Store. (I can't see it on my Android phone yet at the time the article is being written.) Edit: It should also show up on Android, on the Play Store version 5.6.6.

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[Android M Feature Spotlight] Android Now Has A Native Flashlight API, Hopefully Negating The Need For OEM-Specific Solutions

While Android Lollipop added a flashlight toggle into Quick Settings, circumventing most third-party torch apps, the function was only accessible in the notification drop-down and as an on/off switch. If you wanted to use the flashlight with morse code, for signaling, or other patterns, you still had to use a separate application and developers of said apps didn't have any clear API to build their software on. They had to hack together solutions for various phones, relying on whatever way the different OEMs had created to access the camera's flash.

With Android M, a new Flashlight API is accessible to developers with CameraManager.setTorchMode(). The flash will be switched on until the app is closed, it is toggled off, or some other app takes over control — flash isn't restricted or exclusive to any apps.

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[I/O 2015] Google's Cardboard Now Works With Phablets And iOS, Pushes For 360 Degree Videos, And Brings Expeditions To Classrooms

What everyone thought was an innocent little experiment from Google during last year's I/O has turned into a full-on Virtual Reality venture from the company. Cardboard, a piece of actual cardboard that you fold and insert your phone in for a make-shift low-cost VR display, has been getting more focus and momentum over the past year with 500 compatible apps and over 1 million viewers sold or given away. That rise culminated with a few announcements at yesterday's I/O keynote.

First, the Cardboard hardware has been redesigned to be simpler to disassemble and put together, as well as work with bigger devices that have screens up to 6" in size.

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