For years, Android has allowed apps to modify the behavior of other applications, using Accessibility Services. While the intended purpose is for developers to create apps for users with disabilities, the API is often used for other functionality (to overlay content, fill in text fields, etc.). LastPass, Button Mapper, Signal Spy, Tasker, and Greenify are just a few examples of applications heavily using this API. Read More
Some of you might remember the Contextual App Experiences talk at I/O this year. The seemingly convoluted name actually held some pretty big news, as it was during that talk that Google revealed its plans to refresh the Nearby Connections API. That set of APIs is used to provide communication between your phone and other things in physical proximity to you, further expanding your ability to share info and data locally. Well, as of today version 2.0 of that API is now available, bringing new features for developers. Read More
Over the years, one of the most annoying feature omissions in stock Android has been a battery indicator for connected Bluetooth devices. There is a public standard for reporting battery life from (supported) Bluetooth devices, but stock Android just doesn't use it. A few OEMs have implemented it themselves in the last few years, like Samsung and LG, but not Google. Read More
Now that Google is through with its biggest developer conference of the year, it's time to deliver a few updates and fulfill some of the promises made during the event. Some of that is happening through an update to Play services. Google posted the release notes for the update and it includes a lot of additions, both big and small, and a few deprecations. Read More
If you aren't familiar, Chrome has two versions: the open-source Chromium project, and Google's proprietary Chrome builds with added functionality (like a built-in Flash player). Numerous browsers on Android are based on Chromium, including the popular Snapdragon-optimized CAF browser. Unfortunately, Google has now shut off access to the Chrome Sync API on Android for anything but Chrome itself, including vanilla builds of Chromium. Read More
Google's Safe Browsing feature has been around since 2007, and has protected millions of people from harmful threats on the internet. It's a blacklist of harmful websites, such as those distributing malware and phishing scams, that Google actively updates every day. The database is used by Chrome, Firefox, and even Safari to ensure users can be as safe as possible online.
Back at Google I/O, Google announced they would make an official API for applications to check a given website in the Safe Browsing database. Starting with Google Play Services 9.4, developers can finally use the API in their apps.
The Safe Browsing API uses the latest version of the Safe Browsing Network Protocol, meaning it's designed to be as quick (and use up as little cellular data) as possible. Read More
The Vulkan graphics API is a big deal for mobile developers, since its direct GPU access allows for complex graphics to be rendered with a considerably lower hit to the processor, and thus a lower overhead on the hardware and battery life. A few devices like the SHIELD family and Samsung's 7 series already supported Vulkan several months ago, but Nougat now features full support for all updated Android 7.0 devices. Developer Super Evil Megacorp, which turned heads last year with its Vainglory mobile MOBA, now has a beta version that uses the Vulkan API. Read More
Earlier this month, Google announced they were killing off Chrome apps for Mac, Windows, and Linux. While it makes logical sense to remove a feature that almost no Chrome users actually used, there are still hundreds of excellent Chrome apps affected by the decision. Google recommends that developers move their applications to Electron (another way to run web apps on the desktop), but doing that would require rewriting every component using Chrome's APIs to the Electron equivalents.
Koush, developer of the Chrome app Vysor (among other projects), has made porting Chrome apps to Electron incredibly easy. With his tool, aptly named Electron Chrome, developers can compile their existing Chrome apps into Electron applications in seconds. Read More
There are some neat things coming to Chrome in the future, and if you'd like to test them out before everyone else, you're probably already using either the Beta or the Dev version of the Android app. Keep an eye on the former: it's getting some of said features right now. The most interesting addition in version 53 is a new API for quickly checking out on mobile online purchases. It's sort of like the streamlined payment options already offered by PayPal and Visa, but it works with any payment system and it's built into the browser. Check it out in the video below: Read More