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Google Playtime 2018 event focuses on building better apps in smaller bundles

Google's yearly invitation-only event for app and game developers took place today in Berlin and San Francisco today, and the key message was about reducing the size of app bundles. This new way of dynamically delivering Android apps was introduced this summer and support was added to Android Studio 3.2. Here are the main takeaways from Playtime 2018.

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Google to more closely monitor SMS and phone permissions of apps on Play Store

The Play Store may be packed with content, but there are some pretty strict rules in place when it comes to the things apps distributed by Google can do, and once in a while those rules are refreshed or tweaked. Starting this month, Google has refined its Developer Program Policies to include limits to call log and SMS permission access, explicit prohibitions against surveillance and "commercial spyware apps," and new Android Contacts API restrictions.

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[Update: Stable version now available] Android Studio 3.2 Beta is out with App Bundle support, Emulator Snapshots, and more

Android Studio is Google's recommended environment for developing Android applications, and plenty of new features were announced at Google I/O. Some of those improvements have now landed in the beta branch, with the release of Android Studio 3.2 Beta.

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Google is working on native hearing aid support for Android

In partnership with Danish firm GN Hearing, Google is currently developing a protocol to enable native hearing aid support in Android. The open specification will allow users with hearing impairments to connect their aids to their phone for a better user experience.

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TensorFlow 2.0 announced with a new focus on usability, preview coming later this year

Most of our audience is at least familiar with seeing the name TensorFlow appear in our coverage. For the uninitiated, Tensor Flow is a machine learning framework/library created by Google that allows developers to leverage the emerging technology for their own uses. Although v1.0 only landed last year, the team behind the project has continued its work, just recently announcing that a preview for v2.0 of the platform would be coming later this year. This update could break compatibility with v1.0 APIs, but with its "focus on ease of use," developers shouldn't run into too much trouble updating.

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Dart, Google's home-grown programming language, reaches version 2.0

Google Dart has evolved a great deal over the past few years. It was originally designed as a JavaScript replacement, with Google planning to add native support for it in Chrome. The company later dropped those plans, instead focusing on Dart's ability to compile to JavaScript (thus allowing Dart code to work in every web browser). Dart is heavily used in the cross-platform Flutter SDK, and it's a supported language in Fuchsia.

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Firefox Nightly can now block auto-playing audio

Firefox is finally addressing a big browsing annoyance. The browser's Nightly build can now block websites from automatically playing audio. This isn't a first; Chrome has had the same ability since April (and even longer on mobile). Still, it's a great feature, and a boon for Mozilla diehards.

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The Android P engineering team will be having a reddit AMA on July 19

Are you an Android developer (or an aspiring one)? Do you have some burning questions you've been dying to ask Google's Android team? Well, there's good news for you; the Android P engineering team will be answering your questions in an r/androiddev AMA on July 19th, and you can get your questions in now.

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Android Studio device emulator now works with AMD processors and Hyper-V

Android Studio's device emulator used to be incredibly slow, even on capable hardware. Google has drastically improved the performance over the past two years, but a few issues remain. The Windows version of the Android Emulator uses HAXM, which only works on Intel processors. That means AMD-powered computers can only use non-accelerated ARM images.

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