While Google I/O is all the rage on our side of the internetz, another conference is taking place that is probably a lot less exciting for us: INTX, the Internet and Television Expo. But one interesting nugget has escaped INTX and found its place on our radar as Android users and it's about Comcast, of all evil companies and things.
Last month, Comcast had announced the Xfinity TV Partner program, an initiative aimed to make the Xfinity TV app available to smart TVs, and TV-connected and IP-enabled devices (read: other set-top boxes) without the requirement for a Comcast set-top box. Think of this as Comcast wanting to be Netflix'ish, ie available to you through an app and with a subscription, no need to call the company and lease a physical box from it.
Android N still isn't officially released yet, but that hasn't stopped HTC from trying to grab some attention and get its time in the limelight during I/O's news cycle. The company announced through its official Twitter account that Android N will come to three of its existing devices.
Life is about to get a little sweeter. Android N will be coming to the HTC 10, HTC One A9 and the HTC One M9. pic.twitter.com/XzOEwTCVlU
Were you expecting any of these not to get N? No. The One M9 will be around a year and a half old by the time N is revealed, the One A9 will be approximately a year old, and the HTC 10 is newer than new.
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.
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.
You might have noticed that there aren't a lot of Android TV boxes around. Aside from the original Nexus Player, the much-recommended NVIDIA SHIELD, and the generally regrettable Razer Forge TV, only a few somewhat random cable boxes and some Sony televisions are using Google's living room version of its mobile OS. But there's a surprise entry announced at Google I/O 2016: Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi. Its "Mi Box" Android TV device ticks all of the hardware boxes, but what's even more surprising is that it's coming to the United States.
Psssssst. You, yeah you. I know you're waiting for Google I/O to start and you're impatiently twiddling your thumb, unlocking and relocking your phone to see if YouTube is about to notify you of the livestream, and maybe staring at your Android Wear watch every two minutes to see what time it is. I've got something for you though: a deal on an ASUS OnHub.
What is that? This isn't as exciting as I/O?! How dare you? Seriously, how would you even watch I/O keynotes or read Android Police or download the latest N image if you don't have a nice router you can connect to the internet with?
Developers got a nice treat earlier today when Google released a new dashboard app in the Play Store. That one is available to all right away, but there's another new developer-oriented release called Playbook that you'll have to join a beta to get. Playbook is an app that aggregates help articles, tips, and videos that help you create a better app.
NVIDIA is taking advantage of the excitement around Google I/O to announce some improvements to its own Android hardware. The SHIELD TV is getting some interesting new capabilities with its next update, version 3.2. Specifically, it will be the first Android TV hardware to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video - that's something that's coming to Android N later, but NVIDIA wants to get a jump on the competition.
Today at I/O 2016, Google announced two new messaging and communication apps: Allo, a messaging app which hooks into your phone number, and Duo, a video calling app. You might assume that means Hangouts would be quietly canned (or as quietly as possible, anyway), right? Not so.
Google has confirmed to Android Police that the company will continue to invest in Hangouts and it will remain a separate product. In a way, this does make sense: as Allo requires a phone number, it might be aimed as a WhatsApp competitor, while Hangouts remains as a Facebook Messenger competitor. On the other hand, would it not be better to have one singular product focused on messaging?
Android TV didn't get much screen time at the opening keynote of the Google I/O developer conference, but there were a few goodies mentioned for upcoming builds. Specifically, VP of engineering David Burke showed off a new picture-in-picture mode that allows users to continue a streaming video while doing something else in the main ATV user interface, such as performing a voice search or downloading an app.