Android Q for Quick Release

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Android Q for Quick Release

You may think we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but Android Q is already on the horizon.  Yes, we just finished covering the release of Pie a few months ago.  But it looks as though rollouts are starting to pick up more speed in the Android community.  Android Q’s full scale release is slated for 2019, and last week it was hinted that it will be available on a wider scale than we’ve seen before.

Android’s History:

Unless you own a pixel device chances are there’s been a time where you were waiting for your phone to have the newest software.  While Android is an amazing operating system, it’s notorious for rolling out very slowly.  Many phones just updated to Oreo as Pie was already being released.  In July Oreo was only active on 12.1% of devices.  This is somewhat understandable since Google is not the only player in the Android user experience But people still want what’s new, and that’s never going to change.

Last week at Android Dev Summit Hung-Ying Tyan, an engineer for Google’s Project Treble team, hinted that Q may be coming out on a trial basis sooner than we thought.  He said “We are also exploring ways to make future GSI available earlier than the release of next Android version.  So you will be able to try out next Android version earlier over GSI, and at the same time, we can get early feedback from you, so the benefit is mutual.”  GSI stands for Generic System Image and is a version of Android based on the Android Open Source Project.

What will Q have to offer?

Things are of course mostly speculation at this point, but predictions exist for a reason.  One such prediction is that the software is going to develop to match the ever-expanding tablets and foldable smartphones.  With increased screen size and split screen functionality users are bound to want to use multiple apps at the same time.  Enter Multi-resume.  I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly frustrating when I’m trying to use split screen but one app pauses once I interact with the other.  Depending on the app, this could render the whole feature pointless.  Split screen is an amazing tool, but it needs to be perfected still.

In the Android activity lifecycle there are different states an app can be in.  Currently when an app is no longer the forefront of attention in split screen it goes into a paused state.  Then when a user interacts with it again it enters the resumed state.  In Q we may see a multi-resume where two apps can both be “resumed” at the same time.  It’s also speculated that Q will have features like multi-monitor support, but only time will tell what all is on the table.

Coming Soon to a Phone Near You:

Android Q source code will be shared with users and app developers for testing before the version officially launches.  The long term goal of this is to make users and developers more acquainted with the upcoming version.  Increased comfort equals an increased adoption rate.  I’m currently enjoying and exploring Pie, but as with the rest of you I’m looking towards the future!  What are your thoughts on Android Q?  Is there a feature it desperately needs?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

Android Isn’t Going Anywhere

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Android Isn’t Going Anywhere

There’s been a buzz going around this week that Android is dead.  Well dying actually, but everyone is claiming that Android’s reign is coming to an end and Google is moving forward.  If we take a few moments to look at the bigger picture then we’ll see Android has a long way to go before it’s no more.  The most popular operating system in the world is here to stay for a long time.

The Rumor:

The rumors pertain to the Made by Google 2018 keynote that just took place in New York City.  During this keynote the word “Android” was not said, and many have taken this as a subtle sign that Google is looking to replace the brand.  This coupled with the fact that “Android Messages” was recently renamed to “Messages” on the Play Store, and bloggers everywhere ate it up. 

Many believe that Chrome OS is set to take over Android’s claim as king since that was front and center at the keynote.  Google told a whole story about Chrome OS’s history and why it belongs on tablets. They also marketed it as a great alternative for your desktop instead of Windows and macOS.

Do the rumors stand?

While it may be true that we didn’t hear the word “Android” explicitly said, let’s not forget that there is still Android related tech coming out.  Android Auto is rolling out to a ton of new cars this year, Android Pie was released at the start of this fall, and Google just adopted Kotlin as a new official Android programming language.

Along with all these new developments we have the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL that have just come out running Android Pie.  Sure they would have to run it since that’s the newest version to come out and it’s Google’s flagship phone.  But let’s remember that that’s the newest version to come out and it’s Google’s flagship phone.  People are discussing the death of Android less than a week after a new huge phone dropped running that same software.

Looking Forwards

Sure there are things in the works to improve the user’s experience like Fuschia, but that doesn’t mean that Android is on its way out.  The fact of the matter is Android is going nowhere.  An operating system that covers 75% of smartphones worldwide is too nested into Google’s overarching architecture to instantly remove, and there are too many new Android advancements coming out to argue that Google wants to remove it.

What do you think about the recent talk against Android?  Let us know your predictions in the comments below!

 

Android Pie is Fresh Out Of The Oven

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Android Pie is Fresh Out Of The Oven

Today Google officially dubbed the newest version of the Android operating system as Pie!  Along with this naming they’ve also released the first official version of it to Pixel phones.  Android users around the world are debating whether this was the right dessert name or not, but either way we know that Pie has some great things in store for us.

The Build Up:

Over the past few months we’ve seen a few beta version of Pie released on a series of smartphones, but this official release is only available on Pixel phones.  People who signed up for the Android Beta program will receive the update by the end of this fall though.  Google also said it’s working to launch/upgrade other devices sometime this year.

Those details are pretty vague, and if Pie behaves anything like other Android versions, it could be over a year before it’s adoption rate breaks double digit percentages.  All the same it’s officially available to Pixel users and it has a name.  That’s plenty for now, but let’s also not forget that Pie is available in its beta format on a number of different devices.

A review of Pie:

We’ve talked about Pie and its cool new features a few times here at RootJunky.com.  The new software is designed with predictive analytics and AI for battery power as some of the main features.  The idea is to improve things behind the scene for users.  Pie monitors and adjusts screen brightness as well as what apps are in the background during different times of the day.  It gets used to user’s habits, and then preps itself in advance to recreate that behavior.  AI is definitely a buzz-word, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have some perks.

It also features an official dark mode option in settings, something Android user’s have been asking for for years.  Notifications also offer features such as smart replies for texting and a new feel to them, so the changes in this version are both front and back end.

Aaand the Notch:

Of course when we’re talking about new looks we have to mention the notch.  It’s taken a hold of both the iOS and Android markets so much that Google has actually come out and banned phones with more than 3 notches from getting Google support.  Somewhat crazy to even think more than 3 notches could exist on a phone right now, but you never know!

One more feature that I have to mention that I’m very excited for is the change to rotation.  Instead of just locking your rotation or having it rotate every time you accidentally turn your screen, you now have optional re-orientation.  Android Pie will display a small button when it detects a screen rotation, and if you select this then the phone knows to readjust, and if not then you can continue doing things as you were, undisturbed.

The Pixel 3 will be coming out on October 4th just a few months from now, and it will likely be the first phone to be released with Pie as it’s initial operating system, but Pie is now available to those who are willing to take the steps to get it.  I’m excited to see it grow this year, and I’m also very interested to see what Q is going to be named.

What are your thoughts on Pie’s name?  Could Google have done better?  And if so, do you think it’s new features will make up for it? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Google I/O Is In!

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Google I/O Is In!

We’ve talked about Google I/O being on the horizon here before, but we can do that no longer.  It’s here! (Actually once it’s over we’ll probably immediately start writing about 2019’s event).

Yes, today marks the kickoff of Google’s 11th annual conference.  And as such the entire Android population has a lot of stuff to talk about.  Google I/O started off strong with its keynote mapping out some of the things to be discussed this year.  Here are some of the highlights of day one:

Artificial Intelligence:

As with most other places these days, AI was one of the most used buzzwords at day one.  It’s somewhat become an all encompassing term for any technological advancement that helps us.  Despite this, Google separates itself from the pack by bringing some pretty cool new features to the table.  Whether it’s self-writing emails or auto adjusting screen brightness to your preference, Google is working on slipping AI into every part of our days.

Actually it’s so much cooler than that.  In the video above at 3:10 you can watch the Google Assistant play as your personal secretary.  It makes a call to a local hair salon and books an appointment without the person on the other end ever realizing they’re talking to AI.  Scary cool.

Android P:

There’s been lots of hype about Android P in the past few months, and we got to see more today.  With it’s 3 key themes of Intelligence, Simplicity, and Digital wellbeing, Android P seeks to one up everything else already in your hand and provide a predictive, pleasant experience.  We’ve talked before about some of the new features coming with Android P, and today that list only gets longer.

Adaptive Battery is a feature aimed to conserving battery life by using (you guessed it) AI.  It studies your app usage patterns and then can dedicate more battery power to conserving the things that you will likely be using in the near future.  Along with this comes the Adaptive Brightness feature I mentioned above where your screen will auto-adjust given your preferences.

Not only does P look to alleviate your battery strain under the hood, but it uses its predictive analytics to bring apps you’re about to use to the forefront.  P is currently available on a select few devices (9 total), and if you’re interested in downloading it click here.  If you’re unsure what you’re doing and want support with flashing your phone, then check out our Smartphone Tech Course over at Phonlab.  Otherwise stay tuned and we’ll post a guide in the near future.

Augmented Reality:

As for the other big buzzword topic, Augmented Reality had some cool new features to display.  Maps have been souped up with the newest computer vision features to recognize where you’re looking in the real world and flash both directional arrows for guidance as well as information about local places.  If you’re walking down the street and a restaurant catches your eye, say goodbye to opening up yelp and searching for its reviews.

The camera has also become greatly enhanced with its new capability to recognize where things are in the real world in terms of depth perceptions.  Moving your phone around your room, office, or down the street you’re able to get live estimates of how far away things are.  This is sure to be crucial in a lot of coming apps.

There’s a lot more to come in this year’s Google I/O, and we’ll keep you updated here.  Is there anything in particular you want us to go more in depth on?  Comment below and we’ll give you all the info you could dream of!

 

 

 

 

Android P In Action

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Android P In Action

Last month we wrote about Android P and how it’s become the talk of the town despite Oreo’s youth.  We’re still some ways off from P (currently known as Pistachio) making its way into the hands of everyday consumers, but earlier this week Google released their first preview of P to developers.  Here’s a quick highlight of some of the cool features it has to offer. Spoiler: some of them are pretty cool.

Android P Highlights:

Wifi RTT – The new API for Wi-Fi Round Trip Time lets you take advantage of indoor positioning in your apps.  RTT measures the distance to nearby Wifi access points that support RTT.  By doing this with 3 access points RTT calculates a triangulated position accurate within about a meter.  There are ton’s of creative opportunities here, and don’t worry about privacy.  Only the user’s phone is able to determine the distance, so no one else will know who you are in a crowded room.

Notifications – In Android 7.0 users gained the capability to reply to messages directly from notifications. Then in 8.0 notification channels were introduced to give users more control over what types of notifications they want to receive from an app.  P takes these features one step further.  Now in the notification bar you can see image messages, and utilize the auto-replies available in your messaging app.  So forget ever using your messaging app, everything can be done from your home screen now.

Animations – The new class AnimatedImageDrawable allows for simple drawing and displaying of GIFs and WebP animated images.  This class lets apps show animated images without having to manage updates or burden the UI thread.

Display Cutout Support – While this feature isn’t going to be in the hands of users, developers are able to modify their phone’s looks in settings under Device theme.  This allows developers to emulate different kinds of screen displays such as including the notch that’s been growing in popularity. Thanks a lot Apple BOOOOOOO.

How to get Android P:

Right now we may as well say P is for Pixel.  The current release is only available on pixel and pixel2 devices (or an Android emulator running one of these).  And once again, this initial release is for developers only not commercial use.  As such Google has made it only available by manual download in Flash.  Click here to download the Android P beta and see what changes it has in store. If you want to install it on your pixel device then check out this video of installing a developer preview on a Nexus 6p as the process will be the same.

You can read more about each of these features and more at developer.android.com.  There are also some brilliant Easter eggs such as allowing users to rotate their phone to landscape mode even when they have auto-rotate turned off, and improving features for one-handed use.  After you download the Preview let us know what you think the biggest changes are and what still needs to be done.

Comment below on what you think the official name of Android P will be.

 

Android P Privacy, Personality, and Pistachios

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Android P

It seems like just yesterday Android Oreo began rolling out to devices, and even now only 1% of android phones are running it.  Yet despite Oreo’s youth, the newest release rumors have already begun spreading about what’s up next.   Internally known as “Android Pistachio Ice Cream”, Android P is close on the horizon.

A little leaked info by Bloomberg has provided some insight to Android’s next release, and the changes are both expected, and somewhat out of left field.  Software features such as Google Assistant are being ramped up to become a more integral part of the interface. On the less predictable end it seems Android P will be revolving heavily around a new “notch” similar to that in the iPhone X.  This seems to be a marketing strategy aimed at converting iPhone users to team Android, but without knowing more about notch details it’s hard to say how impactful this design change will be.

Google Assistant

On a much more interesting note for developers and practical users, Google Assistant appears to be one of the primary focuses of growth.  This emphasis will likely open all sorts of new possibilities as Android finds ways to not only build out Assistant as a standalone, but to incorporate it into other apps!

Assistant already has high quality performance for asking questions and managing smart-home devices, but incorporating it into 3rd party apps opens a whole new door for creativity.  By opening Assistant up to third-party developers (like Amazon has with Alexa), we could see some groundbreaking apps come into being with voice commands.  Obviously fun from a development standpoint, and users would be empowered to do a whole lot more than just google something or ask to hear a joke.

Privacy

Another welcome feature being added on is privacy.  As it currently stands, when an app is granted camera/microphone recording permission by the user it can turn these on as it pleases.  Not ideal.  Recent code submissions show that Android P plans to be work through this issue by blocking background apps from accessing a device’s microphone or camera.  Whether or not you’re the type to sticky note your camera, this is most definitely a win for privacy.

Android P (any love for popsicle?) will make its debut in 3 months at Google’s annual I/O developer conference, and even then it will be a long way off from gaining a large market share of devices, but stay tuned and we’ll be sure to dive deeper into what it has to offer for both developers and users.

What are your thoughts about the new features coming to Android P?  Please comment below.