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Android P feature spotlight: Google confirms idle apps can't access microphone or camera

Last month, a series of AOSP commits revealed that the next release of Android would block apps in the background from using the camera or microphone. It's a bit surprising that this feature didn't already exist, but recent privacy concerns (like the theory about Facebook listening to users) may have pushed Google to implement it.

As expected, the feature is officially part of Android P; idle applications can no longer access the microphone, camera, or device sensors.

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Android P feature spotlight: Notifications can now have inline photos and smart replies

Google launched its new 'Reply' app last month, which adds smart replies to notifications from messaging apps. It's a neat idea, and many believed that the feature would eventually become a native part of Android. Now it seems that has come true, as there is a new notification type that developers can use in Android P.

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Android P feature spotlight: HDR VP9 video and HEIF image format now supported

HEIF, or 'High Efficiency Image File Format,' is a relatively new format that was developed by the MPEG Group in 2015. It's designed to maintain twice as much image data as a JPEG image, while keeping the file size roughly identical. Android P now includes native support for this file format, along with a decoder for HDR VP9 video.

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Android P feature spotlight: Google introduces support for display cutouts and notches [sigh]

If the design of the iPhone X is notcha cup of tea (sorry), a slew of incoming copy-cat designs from Android OEMs is sure to get your blood boiling. Google's opinion on this is unknown, but it knows Android devices with notches are on their way and appreciates the need to accommodate such hardware designs with its next OS version.

Android P will support screen cutouts natively, with APIs to manage how content is displayed on panels with various bites taken out of them. The system will manage status bar height so that it matches any notch, allowing app content to be separated out easily.

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Google announces Android P: Notch support, multi-camera API, indoor positioning, and more

We expected Android P to land in mid-March, possibly as a whimsical reference to Pie day (3/14), but it turns out we don't have to wait this long. Android P is now official and as with years past, we're getting the first developer preview today with zero allusion as to what the full name might be. The image above could be a bit reminiscent of popsicles, but that's possibly Google just trolling everyone.

There are many new features and APIs available to developers, but before we get started on that, let me answer your most urgent questions:

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Android P SDK and emulator images appear in Android SDK Manager

If you've been curious about the next version of Android, there's a hint that something special may be coming soon. Check the Android SDK Manager on this morning and you'll spot packages for a new API level: Android P. There are packages for the SDK itself, plus Android TV, Google APIs, and Google Play variants of emulator images for x86.

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After almost a year in testing, EA has officially released 'The Sims Mobile' on Android

That's right, after almost a year of The Sims Mobile existing as a soft launch testing release, Electronic Arts has finally seen fit to open the floodgates and officially push this title out to the rest of the world. But before you get too excited, it is sadly just like every other The Sims mobile game on our platform. This means you can expect plenty of wait timers and in-app purchases that range up to $99.99 per item.

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Jurassic World: Alive is a Pokémon Go-like dinosaur AR game, coming this spring

Apparently with the approaching theatrical release of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom there is going to be a tie-in mobile game published on Android that apes the augmented reality gameplay found in Niantic's games Ingress and Pokémon Go. This upcoming title is called Jurassic World: Alive and it is scheduled to hit the Play Store sometime this Spring. It's being developed by Ludia Games, a company that has already published 2 other Jurassic-themed mobile games in the past. So hopefully they know what they are doing with the property.

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Google Home calling is now live in the UK

You might think making phone calls with Google Home would be a basic function available from launch, but you'd be wrong. VoIP calling eventually came to users in the US and Canada last August, but it's eluded other regions until now. At Google's October 4th hardware last year the UK was promised similar functionality — due to go live later in the year. It's a bit late, but UK Google Home users are finally able to make hands-free calls as of today.

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24 new and notable Android games from the last week (2/28/18 - 3/6/18)

Welcome to the roundup of the best new Android games that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous week or so.

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