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Google Play Services drops support for Android 4.0 ICS

Android 4.0, nicknamed 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' was an exciting release. It brought all the improvements in Honeycomb back to smartphones, and for the first time ever, Android had a somewhat-cohesive visual style. However, those days have long since passed, with 4.0-4.0.4 now representing less than 0.5% of the overall Android install base.

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Google announces Flutter 1.0, the first stable release of its cross-platform mobile development toolkit

Yesterday, at a dev-focused event at the Science Museum in London, UK, Google announced the 1.0 release of its cross-platform portable UI toolkit. Flutter has been in development since in 2015 with several betas being going out in the last year and a preview release this summer. It will allow developers to build apps that seamlessly work on both Android and iOS without maintaining separate codebases.

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Razer Phone 2 factory images and kernel source are now available for download

For many, a phone is a black box filled with apps, connectivity, and no small part of modern tech magic. But for the technically inclined (like enthusiasts and developers), the intricate operations that keep us knee-deep in apps and services are well understood, and access to specifics like kernel sources and factory images helps tremendously when it comes to rooting, ROMing, and device-targeted development. So it's a good thing Razer pushed out both factory images and kernel sources for its most recent flagship, the Razer Phone 2.

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Chromebooks and Chrome tablets will get an option to show the tablet-optimized version of a website

Viewing the full web is one of the great parts of using a Chromebook, but sometimes the full web doesn't feel quite so full - especially if you're exploring it with a touchscreen. Much of the internet remains poorly-optimized for touch, and desktop websites are still, first and foremost, designed for point-and-click experiences. With the launch of the Pixel Slate, Google's senior product manager for Chrome OS, Kan Liu, confirmed to me in an interview that the company is aware that not all websites are going to be a great fit for a touchscreen. To address that, an upcoming release of Chrome OS for tablets and touch-enabled Chromebooks will add the option to render the mobile version of a webpage.

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[Update: XZ2 Compact too] Sony has added the Xperia XZ2 and XZ3 to its Open Devices program

For developers wishing to tinker with Sony phones, the Open Devices program is a welcome official point of entry. The Japanese company adds most of its high-profile Android handsets to the list of supported devices after a little while, and the Xperia XZ2 and XZ3 are the latest to join the ranks.

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Registration for Google's .dev domains begins January 2019

As the number of available .com domains continues to decline, alternative domain endings are becoming more popular. Many developers (including yours truly) prefer to use .io domains for personal sites and projects, as a nod to "I/O" being the abbreviation for "input/output," but now Google is working on a new ending specifically for those people — .dev.

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Google could give more devices an early taste of Android Q with earlier GSI (Generic System Image) releases

Project Treble seems to be making a dent in the fight against Android's fragmentation problem, and one of the keys to its success relies on something called a GSI (Generic System Image) which is basically a super-stock, AOSP-based image of the Android framework, and a required part of testing Treble compliance. According to a talk at the Android Dev Summit last week, Google may give more devices an advance taste of later Android versions via an earlier GSI release schedule.

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Google admits too much white in apps is bad for battery life

During the Android Dev Summit 2018 that was just held in Mountain View, Google admitted something we all basically knew anyway: it may have been wrong to use so much much white in its apps as it drains smartphone batteries faster than duller, darker colors. Thankfully, dark modes can alleviate the problem and lead to better battery life, and Google wants more devs to add one to their apps.

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APEX furthers the Android ROM modularization started by Treble

Google's Project Treble was created to help fight Android's dirty f-word (fragmentation), by making the update process easier and faster for OEMs. Separating vendor-specific code like SoC drivers out from Android itself was meant to help when it came to OS updates and the work required to push them out. Now Google is working on increasing just how modular Android can be with something called APEX.

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Gallery: Take a look at Samsung's new "Night theme" dark mode for Galaxy phones

We had a chance to go hands-on with some Samsung test devices running the company's new One UI - the latest in a long line of TouchWiz rebrands - and the feature likely to generate the most attention is almost certainly the new "Night theme" option. Basically, night theme sets nearly every stock app, along with the launcher and lockscreen, to an all-blacked-out look - something Android enthusiasts have been asking of device makers for years. My initial take is that Samsung's done this pretty well, and essentially every stock app on the test device had a dark theme. Here's a quick look at some of those apps in a gallery.

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