We reported yesterday that trusted places — Android's method for keeping your device unlocked when it's in certain locations such as your home — was no longer an option in Smart Lock settings. But surprise: it's back! Is this our doing? Well, no, probably not.
Smart Lock, a feature that lets Android users specify conditions under which their devices will unlock without requiring the usual fingerprint, PIN, or pattern authentication, now has one less use case. Trusted Places could previously set a phone or tablet to remain unlocked when it was in a (well) trusted place, like at home, but that option seems to have disappeared.
Google Play services 7.3 started rolling out to Android devices a little less than 2 weeks ago, making some small, but much needed changes in the process. It turns out that wasn't the only purpose for that release, as it also brings some cool new capabilities developers can use in their apps. Now that the rollout is finished, Google has released an updated Play Services SDK with new capabilities for Android Wear, Google Fit, and Location Services. There's also an improvement to the GoogleApiClient class to handle situations when APIs aren't available on a given device.
Magnus is back!
We learned last week from an update to the Android Wear app that support for connecting multiple watches – and possibly other devices – had become reality.
Early this month, Google announced a major update to its Play services framework, which brings the version number up to 7.0 and adds several great new APIs. The SDK for this update was held back until the corresponding apk had time to make its way out to Android devices everywhere. The wait is now over, and the SDK is live. Developers are now free to incorporate all of the new APIs into their apps. For a quick summary of the new features in Play services 7.0, check out the DevBytes video below. Fair warning, the video is hosted by Magnus Hyttsen, so make sure you've had your morning coffee.
The Android ecosystem –as most of us think of it– is built on more than just an operating system and a marketplace for independent apps. It's largely shaped by dozens of services that have been built by Google, allowing developers to add rich features to their apps without building out expensive infrastructures. The Google Play services package is the core element in this equation, and it's getting a pretty major update to version 7.0 over the next couple of weeks. Google just announced that it's about to give developers access to important new features including a Places API to get surrounding businesses and landmarks, and a new Nearby Connections API to make it easier for phones and tablets to act as a second screen to your Android TV.
Late yesterday, Google began rolling out an update to the Android Wear companion app. Despite a sudden growth of over 2 MB in size, the app only seemed to change the text of a warning, and there were no visible changes on our watches. We knew there had to be something great hidden under the covers, and we were right. The companion app certainly has some interesting changes of its own, but it also acts as the delivery mechanism for a Wear-customized version of Google Play services, and there's a bit to talk about in there, too.
Disclaimer: No matter the confidence level, there's always a chance product updates, features, and some or all details will be changed or cancelled altogether.
Sometimes, updates break things. That seems to be the case for some HTC owners who, upon receiving a silent update to the newest version of Google Play Services, are having trouble using apps that rely on location data. According to HTC phone users in this support thread, Google Now continually asks to turn Location Services on, location-dependent applications like Foursquare and WeatherBug don't function properly, and Maps is unable to lock onto a location.
The good news? Google's looking into the problem. The bad news? No ETA. And unfortunately, because Google Play Services updates in the background automatically, wiping data won't help.