Google Looks Ahead With 2020 Vision

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Google Looks Ahead With 2020 Vision

With 2020 upon us there’s surely been an influx of not only new years resolutions, but new decade resolutions.  Sure, you may have already fallen off on a couple of them, but we’re all looking to make this decade a better one than the last.  Well, resolutions aren’t just for the individual.  Google is looking forward to 2020 as another opportunity to grow and create a new world of tech.  Starting with Google I/O 2020.

Revisiting 2019:

The company’s annual developer conference takes place every spring, and this year will be no different with the dates being set for May 12-14.  Last year was full of useful talks sharing new advances in the ways we can envision, build, and share apps.  And beyond the scope of Android there were demonstrations of impressive advances on tech such as Google Assistant.

A lot has happened since 2019’s conference.  Android has moved on to Android X and away from the classic dessert naming convention.  New tech like the Pixel 4 and old tech like Google Glasses came back into being.  And languages like Flutter grew to gain more widespread adoption.  Here are some of the things we should prep to see continuing this tradition in 2020:

Android Hardware:

Odds are we’ll be seeing a Pixel 4a at Google I/O 2020.  We saw the 3a last year, and after hearing about how the 4 didn’t quite live up to expectations it only seems natural for a budget version to emerge.  The price will likely be lower due to weaker specs, but I would bet the 4a still runs on the newest Android version as is tradition with other Pixel devices.

I’m not that excited about the Pixel 4a though, what really captures my interest is the possibility of a Pixel watch.  We’ve seen Apple absolutely dominate the wearables market over the past few years with Samsung making a small dent as well. But loyal Android fans have been waiting for quite some time to see a watch developed by Google emerge into the mix.  If this ends up being revealed, you can be sure it will be awe inspiring.

Android Software:

And with both of these new pieces of hardware you can be sure that they will come loaded with the new software…meaning Android 11 of course.  Very little is known about it at this time, but Google has been steering towards higher security and privacy for their users over the past few rounds of Android.  With new permissions coming into the mix and higher consolidation between apps information is guarded more tightly than ever.  I’m sure Android 11 will crack down even harder on this.

But phones aren’t all about security.  We want the user to actually enjoy their experience, so it’s natural to assume we’ll see a couple new features as well.  With things like multi resume and picture in picture emerging over the past few years it will be interesting to see what else Google can bring to the table.

All the Rest:

                There is of course more the Google I/O than Android, that’s just where our focus at RootJunky tends to gravitate.  In an ever changing landscape of Machine Learning and Augmented Reality we’re sure to see some great advances on both of these fronts.  Google Assistant is probably going to come in stronger than ever with another killer demonstration showing how well it can react to a user’s voice commands.

And Augmented Reality will see its next wave of realistic lighting and other effects.  Personally I think we might see some interesting interactions with outside forces. Imagine a character being blown around on your screen because it’s actually windy outside.  The sky is the limit when you get creative with it!

Mark your calendars for Google I/O 2020, it’s going to be a good one. And be sure to let us know in the comments below what you’re most excited to see this year.

The Inside Scoop on Internal App Sharing

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The Inside Scoop on Internal App Sharing

 

            Testing your apps is a crucial component in a successful release.  Every time you issue updates to your app you run the risk of introducing bugs that can ruin a user’s experience.  We do what we can with unit and UI tests to check and limit these bugs, but some still manage to slip by (no one’s perfect!). So how can we deal with these bugs before they actually get into the hands of a user?

 

Internal App Sharing:

 

            Whether you’re a solo developer or working for a larger company, Internal App Sharing can help with this.  It essentially allows you to upload a second version of your app onto the Google Play Store.  It’s a private upload though that’s only available to people you share the URL with.  What this does is allow you to keep your production app intact while simultaneously letting a select group of people test the new version.

It’s somewhat similar to the beta feature that has been available for quite some time.  But the key difference here is that the app is private. It’s only available to those friends/family/coworkers that you choose to share it with.  It offers a great way for you to limit your testing to people you know. Very aptly names Internal App Sharing!

 

Some Caveats:

 

            Internal App Sharing was first released to us at Google I/O this year so it’s still very new.  After playing around with it and reading the documentation there are a few things to note.  First off, there is a maximum of 100 users that can download the app using this link. So if you are crazy popular then you won’t be able to let all of your friends test! Realistically this probably isn’t a big deal as 100 testers should be plenty to see major bugs that are introduced, but all the same the limit exists.

 

Another limit that might impose a little more on you is that the app you upload has to have a matching package name.  For most cases this will always match since it’s the same app, but if you have different schemes you’re building your app with (debug vs release) that offer different features you’ll need to make sure nothing is different in those package names. Other than these limits though it’s a fairly straightforward process with a positive experience.

 

I currently use Internal App Sharing and I would recommend that you check it out as well!  It’s a great way to share a build of your app with changes to those closest to you before officially releasing anything to the public.  What are your thoughts on the feature?  Let us know in the comments below.

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!

 

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