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Google Firebase announces Extensions, App Distribution for iOS and Android, and web app analytics

For many developers, apps aren't just about the platform they run on, but also integration with cloud services that transport notifications, data, crash reports, ads, and more. The breadth of services and features offered by Firebase ensured many developers would consider it a must-have in their apps, even if only for Crashlytics. With the fourth annual Firebase Summit in Madrid, several new announcements expand the product line even further with products and services that can make development even easier and more effective.

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[Update: Delays may exceed 7 days] Google Play Store silently extends app review to all submissions, fails to inform developers

The Play Store has often been compared to the wild west; which may be good or bad, depending on your perspective. Unlike Apple's App Store and the Amazon AppStore, developers have long been free to publish their apps without going through a lengthy curation stage, and only those that contained malware or used restricted APIs were blocked. However, it appears Google may have quietly instigated a more involved review process that impacts every app and update.

Back in April, an Android Developers blog post mentioned that Google would be taking more time to examine apps from devs that hadn't established a track record with the Play Store.

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Android Studio 3.5 hits stable, bringing along better performance

After Google published a beta of Android Studio 3.5 during I/O this year, the product is now coming to developers as a stable release. However, this version doesn't bring any new features with it. Google halted regular development for eight months and focused on making the program faster and less resource-demanding, leading to a more usable IDE.

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Play Store developers can now tag apps with keywords to help discovery

Publishers want their apps to be found. People want to search for apps. The Play Store has ways of letting the two meet through various promotions, sectioning, categories, and, now, tags: developers are now able to describe their apps with up to five words or phrases.

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SMS Backup+ is now broken due to Gmail's API changes, but there's a workaround

Over the last week or so, the popular SMS to Gmail backup application SMS Backup+ has finally stopped working as a result of Google's Gmail API changes. When messages regarding the app's impending loss of functionality were sent out a few months back, our readers were understandably upset. After all, over five million people use SMS Backup+, and not just for backups, but for moving messages between devices and the convenience of Gmail-based threaded conversation view. Thankfully, SMS Backup+ has an IMAP-based workaround which still works.

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Google won’t suspend developers who fail to maintain unpublished apps, as previously feared

Play Store rules and policies have always been fluid and quick to change. Lately, Google has emphasized user security over usability. One instance is the crackdown on purported misuse of SMS and call permissions, making some developers rethink or remove basic functionality in their apps. A Reddit thread surfaced that suggested old, unpublished applications would also need to be updated, with emails and help documents seemingly implying that not addressing the issue could result in the suspension of developers' accounts. Thankfully this isn't the case, according to an Android Developer Relations spokesperson who joined the conversation.

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[Update: Toggle arrives in Q Beta 5] Android started heavily throttling Wi-Fi scanning in Pie, Google confirms it's here to stay

If you use an app that relies heavily on frequent scans from your device's Wi-Fi radios, you've probably felt the squeeze of a behavior introduced with Android 9 Pie which limits the number of times an app can perform scans. Developers have been complaining to Google about this since last year, but the company has since decided that the behavior will remain as is.

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Gmail API changes are about to break apps like SwiftKey, SMS Backup+, and Nine

Over the last year, Google has been instituting sweeping changes when it comes to app permissions to help protect user privacy. It imposed new restrictions when it came to SMS and phone permissions, and plenty of app makers found themselves caught in the Google support machine. Now developers found in violation of recent Gmail API changes are left out in the lurch, and the list of affected apps includes SMS Backup+, Nine, and even SwiftKey.

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ASUS sends Zenfone 6 units to community devs, helps make first Gcam port possible

ASUS seems to get that plenty of the folks interested in the latest ZenFone 6 are among the same market that like OnePlus' devices, and one of the biggest advantages for Android enthusiasts when it comes to OnePlus' devices is developer support. The root and ROM crowd go for things like the OnePlus 6T in part because, well, you can root and ROM it. Now ASUS wants its ZenFone 6 to get some of that same developer attention, so it's sending phones to some of them.

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Android Q Beta 4 allows apps that can use overlays to launch background activities

In Android Q Beta 3, background activities were made the scourge of the kingdom. No background app could start a foreground task. Sure, it was meant to stop any malicious developers from doing some unwanted snooping on their users' devices, but it also cuts off automation apps like Tasker from triggering their jobs. Google does allow for exceptions to this ban, but none of them have suited those apps until the company introduced a new exception to the list with the release of Android Q Beta 4: SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW.

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