Google began rolling out v8.3 of the Play services framework a few weeks ago, and it looks like it's in a wide release. While this version didn't present with any direct user-facing features and only a few cryptic hints for a teardown, it did bring some definite improvements to the Play services SDK. There are some changes to streamline the sign-in experience for app developers and users alike, along with some additional enhancements that should make it easier for developers to set up new user accounts. New APIs have also been added to make data delivery more efficient between a phone and an Android Wear watch. Read More
Google has updated the developer dashboard with new platform numbers and there's big news. There are now officially more Marshmallow devices in the world than Froyo ones. Maybe one day Froyo will die, but today is not that day. In other news, there was a big uptick in 5.1 usage and everything else declined. Read More
The first few Android Wear watches from mid-2014 were watches in name only. They were really more like tiny screens strapped to your wrist that told the time. The design of Android Wear devices has evolved significantly since then, and now there are some that look like honest-to-goodness watches. The second gen Moto 360 and Huawei Watch are the most watch-like so far, but they aren't cheap. Let's see how they compare so you can (maybe) pick up the right one for you. Read More
The Android Auto companion app is generally one of those things you're probably only going to work with a couple of times before you're done setting things up, then it'll stay tucked away, never to be seen again. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't look good and be as useful as possible. An update to the Android Auto app began rolling out today and it's a near total refresh of the user interface. Granted, there's not a lot to change, but it now looks much more like the companion app for Android Wear. Read More
In our final Android 6.0 Compatibility Definition Document post, we'll be looking at a small[-ish] clause added in the security section of the CDD. Previously, Google had not actually defined any particularly specific requirements about factory resets for Android devices. While all devices have such a function, they may differ in their efficacy and level of security post-wipe. And while we don't have any reason to believe a particular manufacturer is not already meeting these new requirements (a point I will stress), it's good to see Google is at least laying down a clear mandate on this issue going forward.
Basically, it was possible, pre-Android 6.0, for a manufacturer to merely conduct a logical wipe when doing a factory reset of a device. Read More
Ever had a phone with a bum gyroscope? Or a totally irrational pedometer? Google, in the interest of better counting your steps and determining just what in the hell your phone is doing moving around in three-dimensional space has now defined a "high fidelity sensor support" flag for Android devices, as in the Android 6.0 Compatibility Definition Document.
The idea here is to give developers a single flag to look for that says "this phone / tablet / whatever is not a dumpster fire of awful sensor accuracy." Or, perhaps, more positively, to just say a device has really good sensors. Read More
Google's monthly security updates are out in the form of factory images, and that means it's time for some new code in AOSP. Since these versions are dedicated to closing security holes, there certainly won't be any new features and the bug fixes probably won't have much effect on battery life or performance, but they will keep the baddies from treating your phone like it runs an old version of Windows.
A number of serious vulnerabilities were fixed in this release, including two critical issues that could be used for remote code execution. Details have been posted on the Nexus Security Bulletin. Read More
The Wall Street Journal dropped a bombshell last week when it reported that Google planned to merge Chrome OS with Android and phase out the Chrome OS we've come to know and love. Googlers (including Android/Chrome head Hiroshi Lockheimer) reiterated the company's commitment to Chrome OS. Now, Google has made a post on the Chrome blog to set the record straight once and for all—Chrome OS isn't going anywhere. Read More
Screw Google On Tap and UI tuner, the best new feature in Android 6.0 is clearly Doze, the new portion of the OS dedicated to extending a phone's battery life when you're not using it. That said, this is Android, so of course people are going to start tweaking it just as soon as they can. There are already two apps that do just that. The bad news: they both require root permissions, so you'll need to have modified your farm-fresh Android 6.0 build already to use them. The good news: both of them might be worth the hassle of rooting all on their own. Read More
Due to a smaller installer base, the specialized version of the Play Store that comes on Android TV gets a lot less attention that the version on phones and tablets. Even so, we keep an eye on all the various flavors of Android - check the sign over the door - so we're happy to report that the Android TV version has received a notable update. The latest release (5.10.30-leanback) makes some big changes to the user interface, chopping off some of the less necessary corners to focus on the core experience. Read More