Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

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Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

Android Q has been out since March steadily progressing through its betas.  This week Q hit its last step in the refinement process with the release of the final beta 6.  The official release is “a few weeks away” at this point, but if you’re interested in exploring Q early there’s no better time than the present!

Changes With 6:

Spoiler Alert: there aren’t that many changes in the new version.   Final APIs for developers were locked down in beta 4, so 5 and this new version are mostly bug fixes and small tweaks.   But one big change is with gesture navigation.  The back gesture has received a bit of a makeover.  Here’s what Google had to say about it:

“We’ve made further refinements to Gesture Navigation in Beta 6 based on user feedback. First, to ensure reliable and consistent operation, there’s a 200dp vertical app exclusion limit for the Back gesture. Second, we’ve added a sensitivity preference setting for the Back gesture.”

To non-developers the 200dp may not make sense, but the concept is fairly simple.  Apps have the option to opt out of the back button gesture navigation, but only to an extent.  They’re only allowed to stop the back gesture for 200 “density-independent pixels”.  The idea behind this is to make things easier if you’re in an app that involves horizontal scrolling.  We don’t want a user to accidentally go back when they’re just trying to scroll through a list.

Feedback on Gestures:

Another somewhat confusing part of the left-side gesture recognition is that some apps have drawers you can open from this side.  On trick you can use to view these instead of accidentally going back in the OS is swiping to the right but also up at a 45 degree angle.  Not really something you should have to distinguish between as it feels like bad design, but that’s how things currently are.

Google says that feedback has played a lot into the gesture changes they’ve made with Q, and hopefully it works out in a manner that feels fluid and easy to use.  Every beta seems to have had a different version of gestures, so Google only has so long to get it all right!

There are currently dozens of different navigation styles in the Android ecosystem thanks to the fact that not all phones are made in house by Google.  But this is about to0 change with the release of Q.  Google announced at I/O this year that gesture navigation will be standardized and that other phones must adhere to it in order to run Android OS.  This will be a very welcome change for anyone who has felt lost swapping from one phone to another.  But it’s also high stakes to make sure that things are done right.

Getting Q Today:

System images for this beta are currently available for all Pixel devices.  If you have one then you’ll be running on Q soon enough, but if you’re looking to play around right away then go set it up and let us know what you think in the comments below.  We also still don’t know what Q’s snack name is.  It’s probably the most important part of any software, so stay tuned for that!

 

Pixel 4 or 4a?

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Pixel 4 or 4a?

Round 4 of leaks for Google’s flagship phone have begun to spill.  And with some of these designs have come talks of what to expect on the financial end of things.  In other words people want to know how much they have to pay.  Odds are we’ll be looking at a price in line with other high end phones like the iPhone 11 or Galaxy Note 10.  That being said, whether people are willing to pay this or not is another story.

Introducing the Pixel 3a:

If you tuned in to Google I/O this year, then you saw the unveiling of the Pixel 3a.  It was a lite version of the Pixel 3 that offered the same software on lower hardware specs.  Google marketed it as offering all the same impressive features as the 3 including low-light Night Sight and Duplex.  The bottom line of this was that the 3a was an almost top tier phone at a budget price. Unsurprisingly it sold quite well.

Starting at $399 instead of the original 3’s $799 it’s estimated that the 3a is responsible for some of Google’s successful second quarter earnings which they released on Thursday.  The company appears to be in a healthy state revealing $38.9 billion in revenue and $9.9 in profit.  Of that $32.6 was attributed to the ad portion of the business, but the “Other Revenues” section was up a significant amount ($6.2 billion vs $4.4 last year).  And since we already know the Pixel 3 lacked on sales a bit, the assumption is that the Pixel 3a performed quite a bit better.

People Speak With Their Money:

The Pixel 3a was likely a large cause of this spike in revenues.  Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that “With the launch of Pixel 3a in May, overall Pixel un it sales in Q2 grew more than two times year over year.”  We don’t have official numbers as they aren’t public, but clearly the company is happy with how the budget phone went over.

But this leads us to the question of where will people put their money when the Pixel 4 drops.  Likely we’ll see it prices at a similarly high price of $800-$1000, but that’s an outrageously high amount to pay for some of us.  If the Pixel 3 didn’t sell as well as the company hoped at that price they may try and lower it.  Or they may do the opposite and keep it as an exclusive item while subsequently revealing another budget phone.  And if that’s the case we each have to ask ourselves if it’s worth waiting a few months past the reveal to try and save a few hundred dollars.

Delayed Gratification:

My personal recommendation would be to hold off at least a month or two after release.  If you’re shopping for a Pixel 4 then there will likely be some huge discounts coming.  On Black Friday this past year you could get $400 off a Pixel 3 or 3XL.  And if you want to wait even longer I wouldn’t bet against a 4a being revealed as well.  Only time will tell!

What are your thoughts on the Pixel 4? Are there any special features you’re hoping to see in it for the expected prices?  Let us know in the comments below!

Android Dev Summit Is Coming!

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Android Dev Summit Is Coming!

If you’re an Android junky then you’re probably still coming off of this years Google I/O high.  We saw some really cool stuff we can leverage in our apps to create great user experiences.  But the development fun is far from over.  It’s already time to mark your calendars for another big upcoming development conference: Android Dev Summit 2019.

Last Year’s Summit:

Last year at Android’s annual developer conference we saw some big changes.  These included things like App Bundles in place of old APKs to reduce the size of your app.  On average app sizes were decreased 8% and some saw much bigger changes (30+ percent!). The idea behind an App Bundle is to only download the resources needed for your specific phone/version instead of downloading everything and then using what you need.  We’ll actually be going into detail on it in another post soon.

That was a big size change, but a big code change was focused around Jetpack.  Another topic we’ll dive into further with some tutorials if you haven’t applied it yet is updating your legacy support libraries to AndroidX. Basically your app functions the same way, but moving forward things are a lot cleaner on the Android support library!

What’s Coming This Year?

Those are some good topics that you should definitely be leveraging in your apps today, but the purpose of this post is to ask what may be coming this year.  And if Google I/O is any indicator of it, then the answer is a lot.  There’s not an official roster of topics posted yet, but we’ll likely be seeing deeper dives into some of the topics covered at I/O such as Android Q gestures and dark mode. And now with Kotlin as the preferred language for Android development I’m sure we’ll see some technical dives into what’s happening under the hood.

Along with some of these unique sessions come other perks for those of you attending in person.  There will be more hands on experiences with product demos, and you’ll be able to meet with members of Android’s team and discuss topics in more detail.  If you’re interested in attending then here’s a huge plus: ITS FREE!  Yep no purchase necessary for a ticket, but you do haver to be accepted by invite, so there are no guarantees.  Still, applications are open until August 15thso I’d highly recommend applying!

We’re Almost There:

There are a plethora of changes that could get whole sessions focused around them (permission changes, internal app sharing, optimizations).  And if you want to make sure you’re up to date on it then keep an eye on our page or on the official Android Dev Summit page.  If you can’t make it in person (Cali isn’t just around the corner for some of us), then don’t worry.  All the sessions will be live streamed on the site as well.

What are you most excited about for Android Dev Summit 2019? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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