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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

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Google announces new features for Android TV, Xiaomi Mi Box coming to US

Posted: 18 May 2016 03:05 PM PDT

Android TV started out a bit rocky, but it's getting lots of support from hardware manufacturers now. Google has announced that Sony's 2016 BRAVIA lineup and Sharp's Net Player will both feature Android TV, adding to the list of hardware that includes it.

Google also announced a bunch of new apps coming to Android TV, and the list is very impressive. We'll soon see  CNN, Comedy Central, MTV, Freeform, Nickelodeon, Spotify, STARZ, WATCH ABC, WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Junior, ESPN and more. Those are some huge names, making Android TV much more appealing. There are some new features coming with Android N, too, like picture-in-picture, recording APIs for live TV, and high dynamic range.

On top of that, Xiaomi has announced the Mi Box 4K Android TV set-top box. It will include a Bluetooth remote with voice control, and you'll be able to buy a separate gaming control with dual vibration motors. And surprisingly, it'll be coming to the US!


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SHIELD TV Upgrade 3.2 Will Include 4K VUDU, YouTube 60FPS 4K, Netflix HDR, And Gamestream HDR

Posted: 18 May 2016 03:01 PM PDT

nexus2cee_wm_DSC05919_thumb (1)NVIDIA is taking advantage of the excitement around Google I/O to announce some improvements to its own Android hardware. The SHIELD TV is getting some interesting new capabilities with its next update, version 3.2. Specifically, it will be the first Android TV hardware to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video - that's something that's coming to Android N later, but NVIDIA wants to get a jump on the competition.

In particular, that capability will open up the VUDU and Netflix libraries to HDR, at least for whatever content supports it.

Read More

SHIELD TV Upgrade 3.2 Will Include 4K VUDU, YouTube 60FPS 4K, Netflix HDR, And Gamestream HDR was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Even With Allo And Duo, Hangouts Will Remain As A Separate App In Google's Ecosystem

Posted: 18 May 2016 02:45 PM PDT

alloduohangoutsmessenger

Today at I/O 2016, Google announced two new messaging and communication apps: Allo, a messaging app which hooks into your phone number, and Duo, a video calling app. You might assume that means Hangouts would be quietly canned (or as quietly as possible, anyway), right? Not so.

Google has confirmed to Android Police that the company will continue to invest in Hangouts and will remain a separate product. In a way, this does make sense: as Allo requires a phone number, it might be aimed as a WhatsApp competitor, while Hangouts remains as a Facebook Messenger competitor.

Read More

Even With Allo And Duo, Hangouts Will Remain As A Separate App In Google's Ecosystem was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Android Auto will soon no longer require a compatible car system

Posted: 18 May 2016 02:35 PM PDT

Android Auto is an awesome feature, but not everyone has a compatible car. Some new cars are now supporting the feature, but many still aren't. And if you're driving an older car, your only hope is installing a very expensive Android Auto head unit, if one even fits in your car.

Fortunately, Google has announced an update to the feature that many have been asking for. You will no longer need Android Auto-compatible hardware, like a head unit or car entertainment system. You'll be able to use Android Auto on your smartphone.

Android Auto phone 2

This is something that many people have asked for and a few apps have even offered. You will now have a user interface optimized for driving, with giant buttons and necessary apps at your fingertips.

For people that use their smartphone for navigation and hands-free calling, this is a fantastic addition. This feature will be coming later this year, though no specific date was released. How many of you are looking forward to this update?


Android Match

Google announces Android Instant Apps, use applications without installing them

Posted: 18 May 2016 02:04 PM PDT

What if we didn't have to download every app to use its features? What if there was a single app that encapsulated all services? Well we have that app, and it's called a web browser. But using mobile sites isn't always ideal, and keeping an app around just for occasional use is a waste of your phone's precious resources.

Enter Android Instant Apps, a new feature announced by Google. If you need to use an app, you can open it without having to install it. Participating apps will be designed with modules, so when you need to use an app you don't have installed, it can be loaded quickly and with as little data usage as possible just by downloading the needed modules.

A great example given at I/O is finding a product like a camera bag on Google. Hitting the link to B&H will seamlessly open only the part of the app you need rather than the mobile site, all without installing. You can even check out with Android Pay with no hassle.

If the process is quick, this will make shopping, viewing content, and more much easier on the internet. Native apps are so often superior to the mobile site, so having them available without lengthy install times is awesome. And best of all, this feature will be available for all devices Jelly Bean and up, so Android N won't be necessary!

What do you guys think of this new feature? Is it useful? Leave a comment!


Android Match

Google announces usage numbers at I/O, like 65 billion Google Play app installs

Posted: 18 May 2016 02:04 PM PDT

We all expect impressive numbers from Google. Everything from monthly users to app installs, we know it's going to be big. But it's awesome hearing of the successes of Android and various Google products, so let's lay down the numbers.

Google announced 65 billion Android app installs from Google Play, one billion monthly active Chrome mobile users, 200 million monthly active users of Google Photos, 50 million Google Cardboard apps, 25 million Chromecasts sold, and 600 Android smartphones launched last year.

Impressive work, Google. Let's hope your new services, like Daydream and your various new messaging apps announced at this Google I/O, are just as successful.


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HTC announces Android N update for HTC 10, One A9, and One M9

Posted: 18 May 2016 01:34 PM PDT

HTC has announced three devices that will officially be getting the Android N update, and they are the HTC 10, HTC One A9, and HTC One M9. Of course, these are the devices that were expected to get Android N, but at least HTC has made it official.

HTC Senior Global Online Communications Manager Jeff Gordon says that may not be all though, as more devices that will receive Android N will be announced when Google ships the software to manufacturers. That's also when we'll get timelines, because right now there are no announced times.

Unfortunately for One M8 owners, the Android N update may not be coming to the device. Gordon says the M8 is over two years old now, so it may or nay not be receiving the update. However, we'll have to wait and see what devices are next in line for some Android N goodness.

Source: @HTC, @urbanstrata (2)


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What exactly is the Google assistant?

Posted: 18 May 2016 01:34 PM PDT

Google unveiled a ton of cool new products and features today at Google I/O, many of them powered by some seriously impressive artificial intelligence going by the name of Google Assistant. Or is it a Google assistant? Err, the Google assistant? Which kinda just seems like Google Now? And while we're asking questions … Hold on. Let's take a step back and go over what exactly the Google assistant is, what it does and how it's going to change the way you use Google.

What's in a name?

Before we go any further, let's see what Google has to say about the Google assistant:

"The assistant is an ambient experience that will work seamlessly across devices and contexts. So you can summon Google's help no matter where you are or what the context. It builds on all our years of investment in deeply understanding users' questions."

There you have it. Plain as day. It's not a personality, like Alexa, Cortana or Siri. It's not a new service or tool like Google Now. Think of it as a new way to use Google. Or better yet, an assistant to help you use Google. The assistant to help you use Google. The Google assistant. Get it now?

What does it do?

For many years now, users have been searching Google by using complex, real, human questions. No one uses strings of boolean operators anymore, especially from a mobile phone and especially when talking to your device. Despite all this, Google still provides information back in a very blunt way.

Ask for movie times and Google will provide exactly that: a dense page of information showing movie times, links to more movie times and even some ratings of those movies. You can ask for more info on a movie, and get more info on a movie. You can even ask to buy tickets, and Google will help where it can.

The Google assistant will help take care of some of those clicks for you and automate more of the process. Instead of all the above, you ask the Google assistant what's playing tonight, and the Google assistant gives you some highly rated movies. You let the Google assistant know you are taking kids and it will suggest a family friendly movie while asking if you want to buy tickets or watch a trailer.

The Google assistant isn't simply Google search or Google Now, it uses Google for you. It learns your usage habits and becomes your own personal customized conversational gateway into Google. You have real, open conversations with the Google assistant. From both sides. You ask a question, it has an answer. Not a bunch of information, but a real contextual answer. Becuase the Google assistant understands you and what you are looking for.

How can I use it?

You can't. Not yet, anyway.

The Google assistant will live in Allo, Google's new messaging app, and on Google Home. Eventually, anywhere you can search Google, you will instead be able to call on the Google assistant for help.

And that's all there is to it for now. We will know more and have a better understanding once the Google assistant goes live in various ways, but for now just think of it as a much more natural way to use Google.


Android Match

Enhancing Android Pay APIs

Posted: 18 May 2016 01:04 PM PDT

Posted by Pali Bhat, Senior Director, Product Management

Today, we're enhancing our APIs, making it easier than ever for the developer community to integrate with Android Pay. With just a few lines of code, you can enable quick and seamless checkout to help increase purchase conversions and ongoing engagement.

Improve conversions within apps

We've been working with popular apps such as Airbnb, Yelp Eat24, Kickstarter, TicketMaster, Uber and many others to bring the ease of speedy checkouts to apps. We also want to make the same great in-app experience available to all developers, big or small. So we're taking a few steps:

  • Earlier today, we announced Android Instant Apps, which gives users the ability to pay using Android Pay with a single tap, without the friction of getting a user to install the app to complete their transaction. 

Example of Android Pay in Android Instant Apps

  • We're opening the Android Pay API to all developers selling physical goods and services in markets where Android Pay is available—just sign up at http://ift.tt/1OK1DOI
  • We've teamed up with payment processors globally so developers can integrate Android Pay with their Android apps in just a few hours.

Enhance mobile web payments

Many users continue to make purchases on mobile sites. But buying something from a website on your phone can be clumsy and cumbersome, which results in much lower conversion rates on mobile sites than on desktop sites.

To make painful web checkout forms a thing of the past, we will be launching PaymentRequest, a brand new web API that we are developing together with Chrome and standardizing across browsers through W3C. Android Pay will be part of this API to allow users to pay on mobile websites as they do in-store and in-app.

Example of Android Pay in PaymentRequest
Drive deeper engagement

Thanks for all the great feedback on our Save to Android Pay API since launch. You spoke and we've listened: We think you'll be thrilled with the latest improvements to the Save to Android Pay API. The following enhancements help developers build stronger loyalty and engagement with new and existing customers:

  • Enable users to add offers, loyalty cards and gift cards in the Android Pay app with the tap of a button. Simply add a deep link to an email, SMS message, push notification or within an app and you're all set.
  • Enroll new customers into a loyalty program in a variety of ways with the new simplified sign-up feature. Customers can sign-up either in store via a NFC tap or through a sign-up page linked from an Android Pay transaction notification.

Example sign-up feature for Walgreens Balance Reward®  
via Save to Android Pay from transaction notification
We believe that mobile payments can make for a better, more secure shopping experience - so we're in this together for the long haul. We're building a robust Android Pay ecosystem, one that's open and scalable, to enable developers to drive mobile payments - and their businesses - forward. We're very excited for the road ahead and we hope you are too.

To learn more about Android Pay and share your feedback, visit our developer pages.

Android Match

Google Play services 9.0 updates

Posted: 18 May 2016 01:04 PM PDT


It's been a little while since we made a release of Google Play services, because we've been busy integrating Firebase. While Firebase will contain the SDKs you've come to know and love for building mobile applications that run cross platform, we'll also continue to ship Google Play services updates with new SDKs regularly. Firebase was built using Google Play services 9.0, so let's dig a little deeper into some of the new and cool APIs that are available in this release.

Ads
If you build apps that monetize with ads, we've added a lot of updates since 8.4. There's a new Initialization method that publishers can use to kick off the SDK at app start. There's also a new native ads format: Native Ads Express (iOS // Android). With Native Ads Express, publishers can define CSS templates for their ad units that define fonts, colors, positioning, and other style information. AdMob combines these with advertiser assets like headlines and calls to action to make a finished ad, which is displayed in a NativeExpressAdView. Moving the work of customizing presentation off the device means there's less mobile code required, plus it's possible to update templates without redeploying the app.

Nearby
We're continuing to update BLE beacon scanning in Nearby Messages. Any app with ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION will be able to scan for beacons via Nearby without any additional permissions. We recommend developers check to see if the app has the location permission prior to calling GoogleApiClient.connect(). Get started here.

For peer-to-peer Nearby Messages, there's now an option to show the opt-in dialog upon connection to the GoogleApiClient which significantly reduces boilerplate for obtaining the Nearby permission.

Player Stats API
We're also continuing to update the Play Games Client SDK with improvements to the Player Stat API and the public launch of the video recording API. The Player Stats API now has Predictive Analytics to help you identify which groups of players are likely to spend or churn, and we are adding new predictions for how much a player is likely to spend within 28 days and the probability that a player is a high spender. This allows you to tailor experiences for these players to try to increase their spend or engagement. Learn more about the Player Stats API.

Video recording API
You will be able to easily add video recording to your app and let users share their videos with their friends and on YouTube in a few simple steps. In the coming months, we are also adding live streaming functionality to allow your fans to broadcast their gameplay experiences in real time on YouTube.

That's it for this release of Google Play services 9.0 -- we're continuing to ship new APIs all the time so watch this blog for future announcements.

Android Match

Daydream is officially Google’s virtual reality platform

Posted: 18 May 2016 01:03 PM PDT

Rumors that Google would announce a VR platform based on Android that have been swirling for weeks now have finally come to a head with the announcement of Daydream, Google's Android-based VR platform.

Daydream is a platform comprised of many parts that come together to provide a complete higher-end VR experience across devices. Based on Android N, the Daydream software experience is totally optimized for VR and includes a VR ready launcher, Google Play VR, enhanced VR notifications and more. Devices that meet strict guidelines will be Daydream ready, with manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Alcatel, Huawei and more readying Daydream compatible devices for release later this year.

Along with Daydream software, Google is also releasing reference devices including a headset and a controller. Developers are being encouraged to develop content for Daydream now, with support already building. Content supported out of the gate for Daydream includes Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, MLB, NBA and even official Imax support among others.

As expected, Daydream falls somewhere between Cardboard and devoted headset systems like Vive and Oculus. With wider availability and a presumably much more affordable price tag, Daydream should be highly competitive with all tiers of VR.

Look for more information on Daydream as we get closer to a fall release.


Android Match

Android Instant Apps Is Google's New Way For You To Use Apps You Don't Have Installed

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:59 PM PDT

Screenshot (217)

Sometimes content is just best accessed in its native app. But just as often, we have no need for that app beyond a single specific instance. To deal with this inefficiency, Google is introducing Android Instant Apps. For content that is deep-linked into participating apps, the app will seamlessly download and install to let you use it in that very moment.

The key to this working out, said Google's Ellie Powers, is having participating apps be built with modules.

Read More

Android Instant Apps Is Google's New Way For You To Use Apps You Don't Have Installed was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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What’s new in Google Play at I/O 2016: better betas, the pre-launch report, benchmarks, a new Play Console app, and more

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:34 PM PDT

Posted by Purnima Kochikar, Director, Google Play Apps & Games

Google Play reaches over 1 billion monthly active users giving developers the world's largest app distribution platform. Last year, Play users installed apps 65 billion times. To keep that great momentum going, we're continuing to listen to your feedback and invest in more ways to help you grow your app or game business. Today, we're sharing new features that benefit developers of all sizes.


Improvements to beta tests and app discovery on Google Play

Beta testing is a crucial tool that many developers use in the Google Play Developer Console to test their apps with real users, gather feedback, and make improvements before launching widely. Open beta tests are helpful to get feedback from a large group of users and allow any user to join a beta test. We're making open beta tests easier to find and participate in: apps that are available only as open betas and aren't in production yet will soon appear in Play search results, users will be able to opt-in from Play store listings directly, and users will be able to send you private feedback through your Play store listing too.

We'll also be adding a new featured section to the store, called Google Play Early Access, showcasing a hand-picked group of promising open betas that haven't gone to production yet.

There are more than a million apps available on Google Play and we continue to work on making it easy for people to discover the apps they'll love. To that end, you'll start seeing new collections on the store for tasks that might require a combination of apps. For example, when you're buying a house, you'll see the best apps for finding real estate, keeping notes, getting a mortgage, and travelling in the area in one handy collection. Developers don't need to take any action to take advantage of this benefit, apps will automatically be chosen. These contextual collections make it easier for users to discover complimentary apps as well as new types of apps.

Users can now opt-in to beta
tests from the Play Store
An example of a new collection
for apps relating to buying a house

Improve your app with the Play pre-launch report

Your app business relies on having high quality apps. To achieve quality, your apps need to be tested on a range of real devices before you ship them to your users. Play's new pre-launch report summarizes issues found when testing your app on Firebase Test Lab for Android on a wide range of devices.

The pre-launch report in the Developer Console

Along with diagnostics to help you fix any crashes we detected in your app, your reports will also include screenshots from devices that use different Android versions, languages, and screen resolutions. These can help you find layout issues. We've also included early warnings of known security vulnerabilities that may have sneaked into your app -- even via third party libraries you rely on. You can enable the pre-launch report in the Developer Console.

Gain deeper insights from user reviews at a glance and reply to user reviews more easily

Your app reviews offer a wealth of information on what your users like and dislike about your app. We're expanding on the improvements we made to ratings and reviews earlier this year, to offer you more ways to take advantage of reviews and better engage your audience.

Review benchmarks let you see your app's rating distribution compared to similar apps in your category for a list of common topics which are relevant for all apps – like design, stability, and speed. You are also able to see how each area impacts your app's rating. Review topics will let you see your app's rating distribution for a list of topics which are specific to your app. With this analysis functionality, you can more easily identify what users think of your app and where to focus your improvement efforts.


Review benchmarks in the Developer Console
Developers frequently tell us they find replying to reviews valuable as a channel to directly engage their audience and gather feedback. In fact, we have found that users who update their star rating after a developer has responded to their review increase it by an average of 0.7 stars. For developers who have their own customer support solutions, we're making replying easier with a new Reply to Reviews API. In the last few months, we've tested the API with Zendesk and Conversocial, so you can now start replying to reviews directly from those popular platforms or build your own custom integration.


Developers can now reply to reviews on Google Play from platorms
such as Zendesk and Conversocial
Understand more about user acquisition and conversion, and see how you're doing compared to others

The User Acquisition performance report in the Developer Console gives you a snapshot of how many users visit your store listing, how many install your app, and how many go on to make purchases. We've now added the ability to see user acquisition data by country and you'll soon be able to see user acquisition benchmarks and compare your app's conversion rates to similar apps on the Play store. With this data, you can find opportunities to focus your marketing efforts and increase your installs with tools like Store Listing Experiments.

User acquisition country data in the Developer Console
Building apps and games for billions of users

Hundreds of millions of users, many of them in emerging markets, are coming online and, for many of them, their first experience is on an Android device.



To help you get your app ready for this opportunity, we've created Building for Billions guidelines with a development checklist to help you optimize your app. You can also get more in-depth tips and best practices for expanding to new markets in the accompanying Building for Billions Playbook.

To help you meet local expectations when you set your prices and make purchases more attractive to your users, the Developer Console will now automatically round prices to local conventions in each market. For example, for a US app priced at $1.99, a user in Japan would see ¥200 rather than a non-rounded price from a straight FX conversion. You can also set up pricing templates to change pricing for products in bulk. You can make this change in the Developer Console.

While you're working on getting your app ready for billions of users, we've been enhancing the Google Play experience for them too. With improved compression, we've made app updates more data efficient, and we're focusing on making the Play Store itself faster than ever on all connection types.

We've also revamped how we select visible apps in key markets like India and Brazil to better showcase apps that are more relevant locally and apps made by local developers. And we continue to add more payment methods in new countries, including carrier billing and gift cards in India and Indonesia.

Two new apps: Get your app data and important notifications on the go, and stay up to date with best practices

To give you access to your data when you need it, and to keep you informed of crucial business updates with notifications, we're launching the Play Console app. You can access your app's data including installs, uninstalls, crashes, ratings, and reviews. You can also receive push notifications for important news like when your app update is live on Google Play. And you can even reply to reviews directly in the app, making it easier and quicker to engage your audience when you want to. Get the Play Console app on Google Play today.

Staying on top of all the features and best practices and strategies you should consider when growing your business can be a challenge. We've built another app, the Playbook by Google Play. The Playbook is a tailored list, based on your objectives, of the latest articles and videos from Google experts and across the web to help you grow a successful business on Google Play. Join the Playbook beta today and let us know your feedback.

The Play Console app
Playbook by Google Play

Finally, we will be soon making some updates to the Developer Distribution Agreement (DDA), which includes the ability for family members to share purchased apps on Google Play. Here you can see the updated DDA.



To learn more about all of these features, tune-in live to 'What's new in Google Play for developers' at 11am PDT / 2pm EDT / 7:00pm GMT+1 on May 19 on the Google Developers YouTube channel.

If you're attending I/O, come and visit the Google Play sandbox to get your app reviewed by experts.

Whether you're attending I/O in person, at one of the many I/O Extended events around the world, or just watching from home, you can find more Google Play sessions in the I/O 2016 schedule.



Android Match

What’s new in Android: the N-Release, Virtual Reality, Android Studio 2.2 and more

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:20 PM PDT

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

In the past year, Android users around the globe have installed apps–built by developers like you–over 65 billion times on Google Play. To help developers continue to build amazing experiences on top of Android, today at Google I/O, we announced a number of new things we're doing with the platform, including the next Developer Preview of Android N, an extension of Android into virtual reality, an update to Android Studio, and much more!

Android N Developer Preview is available to try on a range of devices
Android N: Performance, Productivity and Security
With Android N, we want to achieve a new level of product excellence for Android, so we've carried out some pretty deep surgery to the platform, rewriting and redesigning some fundamental aspects of how the system works. For Android N, we are focused on three key themes: performance, productivity and security. The first Developer Preview introduced a brand new JIT compiler to improve software performance, make app installs faster, and take up less storage. The second N Developer Preview included Vulkan, a new 3D rendering API to help game developers deliver high performance graphics on mobile devices. Both previews also brought useful productivity improvements to Android, including Multi-Window support and Direct Reply.

Multi-Window mode on Android N
Android N also adds some important new features to help keep users safer and more secure. Inspired by how Chromebooks apply updates, we're introducing seamless updates, so that new Android devices built on N can install system updates in the background. This means that the next time a user powers up their device, new devices can automatically and seamlessly switch into the new updated system image.

Today's release of Android N Developer Preview 3 is our first beta-quality candidate, available to test on your primary phone or tablet. You can opt in to the Android Beta Program at android.com/beta and run Android N on your Nexus 6, 9, 5X, 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and Android One (General Mobile 4G). By inviting more people to try this beta release, developers can expect to see an uptick in usage of your apps on N; if you've got an Android app, you should be testing how it works on N, and be watching for feedback from users.

VR Mode in Android  
Android was built for today's multi-screen world; in fact, Android powers your phone, your tablet, the watch on your wrist, it even works in your car and in your living room, all the while helping you move seamlessly between each device. As we look to what's next, we believe your phone can be a really powerful new way to see the world and experience new content virtually, in a more immersive way; but, until this point, high quality mobile VR wasn't possible across the Android ecosystem. That's why we've worked at all levels of the Android stack in N–from how the operating system reads sensor data to how it sends pixels to the display–to make it especially built to provide high quality mobile VR experiences, with VR Mode in Android. There are a number of performance enhancements designed for developers, including single buffer rendering and access to an exclusive CPU core for VR apps. Within your apps, you can take advantage of smooth head-tracking and stereo notifications that work for VR. Most importantly, Android N provides for very low latency graphics; in fact, motion-to-photon latency on Nexus 6P running Developer Preview 3 is <20 ms, the speed necessary to establish immersion for the user to feel like they are actually in another place. We'll be covering all of the new VR updates tomorrow at 9AM PT in the VR at Google session, livestreamed from Google I/O.

Android Instant Apps: real apps, without the installation 
We want to make it easier for users to discover and use your apps. So what if your app was just a tap away? What if users didn't have to install it at all? Today, we're introducing Android Instant Apps as part of our effort to evolve the way we think about apps. Whether someone discovers your app from search, social media, messaging or other deep links, they'll be able to experience a fast and powerful native Android app without needing to stop and install your app first or reauthenticate. Best of all, Android Instant Apps is compatible with all Android devices running Jellybean or higher (4.1+) with Google Play services. Android Instant Apps functionality is an upgrade to your existing Android app, not a new, separate app; you can sign-up to request early access to the documentation.

Android Wear 2.0: UI changes and standalone apps  
This morning at Google I/O, we also announced the most significant Android Wear update since its launch two years ago: Android Wear 2.0. Based on what we've learned from users and developers, we're evolving the platform to improve key watch experiences: watch faces, messaging, and fitness. We're also making a number of UI changes and updating our design guidelines to make your apps more consistent, intuitive, and beautiful.  With Android Wear 2.0, apps can be standalone and have direct network access to the cloud via a Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular connection.  Since your app won't have to rely on the Data Layer APIs, it can continue to offer full functionality even if the paired phone is far away or turned off. You can read about all of the new features available in today's preview here.


Android Studio 2.2 Preview: a new layout designer, constraint layout, and much more
Android Studio is the quickest way to get up and running with Android N and all our new platform features. Today at Google I/O, we previewed Android Studio 2.2 - another big update to the IDE designed to help you code faster with smart new tooling features built in. One of the headline features is our rewritten layout designer with the new constraint layout. In addition to helping you get out of XML to do your layouts visually, the new tools help you easily design for Android's many great devices. Once you're happy with a layout, we do all the hard work to automatically calculate constraints for you, so your UIs will resize automatically on different screen sizes . Here's an overview of more of what's new in 2.2 Preview (we'll be diving into more detail this update at 10AM PT tomorrow in "What's new in Android Development Tools", livestreamed from Google I/O):

  • Speed: New layout designer and constraint layout, Espresso test recording and even faster builds
  • Smarts: APK analyzer, Layout inspector, expanded Android code analysis and IntelliJ 2016.1
  • Platform Support: Enhanced Jack compiler / Java 8 support, Expanded C++ support with CMake and NDK-Build, Firebase support and enhanced accessibility

New Layout Editor and Constraint Layout in Android Studio 2.2 Preview

This is just a small taste of some of the new updates for Android, announced today at Google I/O. There are more than 50 Android-related sessions over the next three days; if you're not able to join us in person, many of them will be livestreamed, and all of them will be posted to YouTube after we're done. We can't wait to see what you build!

Android Match

Google I/O 2016: Develop, Grow & Earn

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:20 PM PDT

By Jason Titus, Vice President, Developer Product Group

Earlier today, we kicked off our 10-year celebration of hosting developer events with Google I/O in front of over 7,000 developers at Shoreline Amphitheatre, and with millions of other viewers on the I/O live stream around the world. During the keynote, we had a number of announcements that featured tools for Android, iOS, and mobile Web developers, showcased the power of machine learning for delivering better user experiences, and introduced a previewed platform for high quality, mobile virtual reality.

And over the next three days at the festival, we'll continue to focus on things that matter to you: Develop, to build high quality apps; Grow & Earn, to find high quality users, increase user engagement and create successful businesses; and What's Next, a look at new platforms for future growth.

Develop, Grow & Earn with Firebase

Those core themes are best represented in our launch of Firebase. As shared during the keynote, we've significantly expanded Firebase beyond a mobile backend to include brand new features, like mobile analytics, growth tools, and crash reporting. Firebase is now a suite of 15 features and integrations designed to help you develop your app, grow a user base and earn money. At the heart of the suite is a new mobile analytics tool we built from the ground up called Firebase Analytics. Available for free and unlimited usage, Firebase Analytics is inspired by our decade-long experience running Google Analytics, but designed specifically for the unique needs of apps.

Let's also take a closer look at the other major developer news at I/O:

Develop

  • Android N Developer Preview 3 — Get a look at the next release of Android N focused on performance, productivity and security. Even better, Android N is now ready to test on primary phones or tablets.
  • Android VR — A rework of the entire Android stack in N to tailor it to provide high quality mobile VR experiences.
  • Android Studio 2.2 Preview — Our new preview focuses on speed, smarts, and Android platform support. This major update includes a completely rewritten, feature-rich Layout Designer.
  • Android Wear 2.0: A developer preview of the biggest platform update since we launched Android Wear two years ago. It includes updated design guidelines and APIs that make the watch even more useful for watch faces, messaging, and fitness. Apps on the watch can now be standalone, with direct network access to the cloud.
  • Recording APIs: enables Android TV app developers and content providers to bring recording functionality to live channels.
  • Google Play services 9.0 — In addition to Firebase, the next release includes new API updates for Ads, Nearby and Play Games services.
  • Android Pay APIs — A new set of tools that includes support for mobile web, Instant Apps, Save to Android Pay and an API for issuers. We'll have more to share during the session "Android Pay everywhere: New developments" later today at 2:00 PM PT Stage 1 Hercules.
  • Progressive Web Apps — A new set of capabilities to build app-like mobile websites that work reliably on the worst network connections and can send notifications to re-engage users.
  • Credentials API — The latest version of Chrome now supports the Credential Management API, allowing sites to interact with the browser's credential manager to improve the sign in experience for users. The API enables users to sign in with one tap and lets them automatically sign back in when returning to the site.
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages — Check out the AMP project, an open source initiative that is helping publishers create mobile-optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.

Grow & Earn

  • Reach a global audience on Google Play — New and powerful tools to help you grow your business: discover and join beta tests from the Play Store (including a new Early Access section), discover collections of complementary apps to help users solve complex tasks, see how your app runs on real devices with a new pre-launch report, get insights and benchmarks for reviews and user acquisition, monitor your app stats and get notifications when your updates are live with the new Play Console app, and more.
  • Android Instant Apps — With Android Instant Apps, users can open your app simply by tapping on a link, even if they don't have the app installed. Instant Apps is compatible with Android Jelly Bean and later, reaching over a billion users. We're working with a small set of developers now, and we'll be gradually expanding access.
  • Building for billions — New resources to help you optimize your app and get your business ready to serve over a billion Android users around the world.
  • Universal App Campaigns — Last year, we introduced Universal App Campaigns as a simple and powerful way to surface apps to the billions of users across Google Play, Search, YouTube, and the Google Display Network. We're building on this success by expanding onto iOS and by helping developers use insights to optimize for lifetime value. See our new apps best practices.

What's Next

  • Awareness API: We'll be previewing a new, unified sensing platform that enables apps to be aware of all aspects of a user's context, while managing system health for you. Learn more at the "Introducing Awareness API: an easy way to make your apps context aware" session later today at 3:00 PM PT in Stage 5 Libra.
  • Daydream — We'll have more to share on how developers can start building Daydream apps during the "VR at Google" session tomorrow (May 19) at 9:00 AM PT in the Amphitheatre and livestreamed.
  • Chromebooks — Hear from the team firsthand what's new with Chromebooks tomorrow (May 19) at 11:00 AM PT in Stage 8 Crater.
  • The Mobile Web — We'll share what we're doing to improve the mobile web experience for developers and users tomorrow (May 19) at 2:00 PM PT in the Amphitheatre.

Android Match

Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:20 PM PDT

Posted by David Singleton, VP of Engineering

Today at Google I/O, we announced the most significant Android Wear update since its launch two years ago: Android Wear 2.0. Based on what we've learned from users and developers, we're evolving the platform to improve key experiences on the watch, including watch faces, messaging, and fitness.

Android Wear 2.0 will be available to users this fall. We're making a Developer Preview available today and plan to release additional updates throughout the summer, so please send us your feedback early and often. Also, please keep in mind that this preview is a work in progress, and is not yet intended for daily use.

What's new?

  • Standalone apps: Your Android Wear app can now access the internet directly over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular, without relying on the Data Layer APIs. This means your app can continue to offer full functionality even if the paired phone is far away or turned off. Removing the requirement to use the Data Layer APIs also enables your app to offer the same functionality regardless of whether the watch is paired with an Android or iPhone. In addition, your app can receive push messages via Google Cloud Messaging and access AccountManager directly on the watch.
  • New system UI: We've made a number of UI changes that will help users interact with your app more easily. A new notification design and app launcher make it easier to take action on notifications and launch your app, and a new watch face picker makes switching watch faces fast and fun. The system UI also adopts a dark color palette and makes better use of round displays. We recommend you test your existing Android Wear app and notifications with the new UI.
  • Material design for wearables: The new Material Design for Wearables guide will help you make your app's interface more consistent, intuitive, and beautiful. The new navigation drawer and action drawer components in the Wearable support library make it easy to align your app with the system UI's new vertical layout. We've also provided guidance on how to adopt the dark color palette.
  • Complications API: Complications are bite-sized pieces of information displayed to users directly on the watch face. Android Wear now has a system-wide framework to enable any app to show data on any watch face that implements the API. As an app developer, you can choose to publish your data to a wide variety of watch faces and make it easier for users to launch your app from the watch face. As a watch face developer, you can rely on data from a rich ecosystem of Wear apps without having to worry about sourcing it yourself.
  • Input methods: Keyboard and handwriting input methods open up new ways to accept text from users on the watch. You can now use these new input methods in your app via RemoteInput and EditText, and notifications that already use RemoteInput for voice replies will automatically support the new input methods. We've ported over the full Android input method framework to the watch, so you can even create your own custom input methods if you wish.
  • New MessagingStyle notification: Android Wear 2.0 includes a new notification template with a layout optimized for quick and responsive messaging. This template is also available on phones and tablets using Android N, so creating a great cross-device messaging experience is a breeze.
  • Google Fit platform: Improvements to the Google Fit platform make it easier for your app to use fitness data and detect activity. You can register a PendingIntent to be notified of changes in the fitness data store, so you don't have to keep querying for changes to weight, nutrition, and other data types. It's also easier for your app to get a consistent daily step count on Android Wear -- with HistoryApi.readDailyTotal(), a step recording subscription is no longer required. Finally, apps will soon be able to detect (with consent) when the user starts walking, running, or biking.
  • Support for Android N: Your Android Wear app can now take advantage of the latest Android N features such as Data Saver and Java 8 Lambda support. Also, let's not forget the new emojis!

Get started and give us feedback!

The Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with tools, and system images for testing on the official Android emulator, the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, and the Huawei Watch.
To get started, follow these steps:
  1. Take a video tour of the Android Wear 2.0 developer preview
  2. Update to Android Studio v2.1.1 or later
  3. Visit the Android Wear 2.0 Developer Preview site for downloads and documentation
  4. Get the emulator system images through the SDK Manager or download the device system images
  5. Test your app with your supported device or emulator
  6. Give us feedback
We will update this developer preview over the next few months based on your feedback. The sooner we hear from you, the more we can include in the final release, so don't be shy!

Android Match

Introducing Android Instant Apps

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:05 PM PDT

Posted by Suresh Ganapathy, Product Manager

Developers have built amazing Android apps. They use your mobile device to the fullest, including the camera, GPS, and sensors to connect to the real world. They're beautiful and immersive, with Material Design and smooth animations running at 60 frames per second. They use access to identity and payments to create seamless experiences.

But developers tell us they wish they could bring users into their apps more quickly and easily. With the web, you can click on a link and land on a web page — it takes one click and just a few seconds. It should be easier for users to access a wider range of apps, and for developers to reach more people.

So, we asked ourselves: How do we make it possible for people to access a wider range of apps, seamlessly? How do we help developers reach more people? And how do we do that while giving developers access to the range of capabilities and experiences that Android apps provide?

Today we're sharing a preview of a new project that we think will change how people experience Android apps. We call it Android Instant Apps, and it evolves Android apps to be able to run instantly, without requiring installation. With Instant Apps, a tap on a URL can open right in an Android app, even if the user doesn't have that app installed.

As a developer, you won't need to build a new, separate app. It's the same Android APIs, the same project, the same source code. You'll simply update your existing Android app to take advantage of Instant Apps functionality. In fact, it can take less than a day to get up and running for some developers, though the effort involved will vary depending on how your app is structured. You modularize your app, and Google Play downloads only the parts that are needed, on the fly. And when you do upgrade, your app will be available to more than a billion users on Android devices going back to Jelly Bean.

This is a big change, so it's going to take some time. We've been working with a small set of partners to help refine the experience, including developers like BuzzFeed, B&H Photo, Medium, Hotel Tonight, Zumper and Disney. We'll be gradually expanding access for developers and bringing Instant Apps to users later this year.

B&H Photo
(via Google Search)
BuzzFeedVideo
(via a shared link)
Park and Pay (example)
(via NFC)

If you're interested in learning more about Android Instant Apps, please check out the Android developers website, where you can sign up for updates as they become available. We can't wait to see what you build when your app is just a tap away.

Android Match

Google unveils Android Wear 2.0

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:04 PM PDT

The news out of Google I/O isn't stopping yet. Alongside Google Home, Assistant, Allo, Duo and an Android N beta program, Google is also announcing Android Wear 2.0.

Android Wear 2.0 can be broken down into a few key updates. The biggest update is in relation to cell enabled Android Wear devices. With Android Wear 2.0 and later, watches will no longer require a device to be connected to. Android We will be completely independent, and much more flexible becuase of that. For the homescreen, Google will now allow custom widgets regardless of the watch face you are using, with third-party developer support. And finally, Google is brining machine learning to messaging on Android Wear, with smart replies, handwriting recognition and more.

Android Wear 2.0 is available today as a developer preview. Let us know what you're most exited about in Android Wear 2.0 in the comments below.


Android Match

Android N beta program provides stable build for daily drivers

Posted: 18 May 2016 12:04 PM PDT

Google saw an incredible response to the initial Android N preview, and has been able to finish a huge amount of work on the upcoming release. So much that Google is launching an Android beta program that will deliver certain devices with a stable build of Android N for daily drivers, starting today.

Devices compatible with the Android N beta include the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C and General Mobile 4G (Android One). Signing up for the beta is easy, as Google has created a landing page that lists your compatible devices where you can enroll. Unenrolling is just as simple, which will send your device an OTA update that reverts back to a stable channel.

To enroll in the Android N beta program, hit the source link below.


Android Match

New additions to the Android TV and Google Cast family

Posted: 18 May 2016 11:40 AM PDT

More Android TV devices and features on the way with Android N release
Android TV delivers thousands of your favorite movies, shows, games and apps to your living room. We've extended Android TV to millions of users globally with support from hardware partners and TV service providers. Today, we're excited to welcome even more TVs and set-top boxes to the lineup.

Sony and Sharp are adding to their Android TV product lines with Sony's 2016 BRAVIA and Sharp's Net Player. New devices are also on the way with RCA's first Android TV, and Xiaomi's sleek 4K set-top box. And in Europe, Android TV will be available from Beko, Grundig and Vestel starting in June.

Hardware is only half of the picture. In addition to the hundreds of apps currently available, many new apps are coming to Android TV such as CNN, Comedy Central, MTV, Freeform, Nickelodeon, Spotify, STARZ, WATCH ABC, WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Junior, ESPN and many more. Plus, new features available in Android N will make it easier to watch your favorite programs. Here's a look at what's coming:

  • Picture-in-Picture: lets users play video while browsing other content. 
  • Recording APIs: brings recording functionality to live TV.
  • High Dynamic Range: supports the next frontier in 4K UHD video.

Google Cast scales to more TVs and displays
Google Cast, which is built into all Android TV devices, is also expanding. In March, we introduced the first displays with Google Cast from Vizio. Those are now joined by a lineup of TVs from Magnavox, Philips, Polaroid, Toshiba, Westinghouse and more. All Google Cast devices–TVs, displays, speakers, Chromecast, and Chromecast Audio–will be supported by the Google Cast app. You can use the app to discover 1000+ Cast-enabled apps, set up almost any Cast device, and receive the latest content recommendations.

Posted by Sascha Prueter, Program Manager, Android TV

Android Match

Google wants you to help name Android N

Posted: 18 May 2016 11:34 AM PDT

Have you ever heard the name for the latest release of Android –Marshmallow, Lollipop, Jelly Bean, etc.– and thought you could do better? If that's the case, then Google wants YOU!

Straight out of Google I/O, Google has just published a website where users can suggest a name for Android N, which Google will then pick through to find a winner. That's it. Seriously. Head over to the source link and suggest away.

Our first choice is definitely Nutella, but you never know what will end up winning.


Android Match

Google Duo is a dead simple video messaging app

Posted: 18 May 2016 11:34 AM PDT

As the new products and services continue pouring out of Google I/O, Google has just announced a dead simple mobile only video messaging app called Duo.

Engineered with a focus on being incredibly fast, Duo lets users register with their phone number with the ability to connect a Google account (just like Allo), and then perform one on one video calls. That's it. It's meant to be simple, becuase it's meant to be accessible to anyone and, again, really fast.

The only unique feature is that the call answer screen has the video call already started, so you can see exactly why someone is calling.

Look for Duo this summer on Android and iOS.


Android Match

Google Photos Has 200 Million Monthly Active Users, 2 Trillion Labels Automatically Applied

Posted: 18 May 2016 11:30 AM PDT

Screenshot (78)

Everyone's favorite online Photo management tool, Google Photos, is pretty popular. At the company's annual developer conference, I/O, Google just announced that Photos has over 200 million monthly active users, with over 2 trillion labels automatically applied to a variety of different photos. CEO Sundar Pichai said a lot of these labels were labelling selfies, which is mind-boggling when you think just how many selfies must be being taken every day.

Read More

Google Photos Has 200 Million Monthly Active Users, 2 Trillion Labels Automatically Applied was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Duo Is Google's New One-On-One Video Calling App For Android And iOS

Posted: 18 May 2016 11:15 AM PDT

Screenshot (109)

As a major component of what appears to be a big push to revamp their messaging offerings, Google has announced Duo, a video calling app. As the name suggests, it is focused solely on two-person video conversations.

Unlike Allo, which Google insists is bringing some fundamentally new features, Duo is all about simplicity. As far as novel features go, the closest we get is that when you receive a video call, you can see the live video of the caller before you answer.

Read More

Duo Is Google's New One-On-One Video Calling App For Android And iOS was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google Announces Allo, A Smart Messaging App Based On Your Phone Number

Posted: 18 May 2016 11:15 AM PDT

Screenshot (82)

Hangouts is Google's unified messaging app, but there's something completely new on the way. At I/O 2016, Google just announced Allo. It's a messaging client that's connected to your phone number rather than an email (like WhatsApp). Google has included various smart prediction features, Google Assistant, and of course, stickers (yay).

Google has added a few interesting general chat features to Allo. No longer will you have to use ALL CAPS to express "louder" text.

Read More

Google Announces Allo, A Smart Messaging App Based On Your Phone Number was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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