Android has always made use of location services in various ways, including recent innovations like location-based smart lock. What if your phone could truly understand what's going on in the world around it with a simple API? That's Google's new Awareness API, which was just announced at I/O.
Google will be launching its new Allo chat application in the coming weeks, and with it comes true end-to-end encryption. Open Whisper Systems has announced that its own Signal Protocol is powering the encryption in Allo. It's not on by default, which has sent some privacy purists into a fit, but this is still a very good thing.
You might be seeing a lot more of Android Pay in the coming months. Google has deployed a new set of APIs for developers to build Pay into mobile web sites, instant apps, and even your email. The goal is to make the payment process faster and easier on mobile devices, but only in countries where Android Pay is accepted.
You know how when you use your phone or tablet for long periods of time, it gets a little warm? Sometimes it even goes toasty — hi, Snapdragon 810! — and app performance suffers: you start seeing lags and stutters and things don't work as smoothly or as reliably as they should. That's because the system throttles the SoC when it risks reaching its limit temperature. This is the kind of performance issues that the new Sustained Performance Mode aims to solve.
There's a new 'Sustained Performance API' in the latest Android N Developer Preview 3. It works based on feedback provided by OEMs regarding each device and its performance for long-running apps.
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.
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.