Just when it appeared Google’s recent run of Android updates had come to an end, a new version of the Play Store pops up with new features in tow. Android Police got its hands on the app, running it under a microscope to find new social and recommendation features that make finding and downloading the best apps less of a hassle. To that end, Google now warns you when an app you’re about to download contains in-app purchases, also making it easier to review apps with a larger star selector and dedicated edit and delete buttons. Opting for improved social recommendations, a new activity feed combines your +1s and ratings and connects them to your Google+ profile, letting you peek at those made by your friends to find apps you might otherwise have missed. Google’s already begun rolling out the Play Store update, but if you can’t wait for it to come over-the-air, hit up the source below to get the jump on everyone else.
Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/06/google-play-store-android-social-update/
A singing Glass? Not the finger-on-a-wine-glass kind. It’s Google’s smart, and now music-playing, headset.
Google has confirmed it will bring its Play Music services to Google Glass. Will the audio playback facilities of Glass be good enough? Funny you should ask. Google is also releasing “uniquely engineered” stereo earbuds that will work with Glass like a conventional MP3 player or smartphone.
Play Music as well as Google’s streaming music system All Access will be available via the simple audio command “Okay Glass, listen to…” in a similar way to most of Glass’s commands.
Why is this big news? If Google Glass wants to rival the smartphone in prevalence, the integration of music is probably essential, considering how many of us walk around listening to music from our smartphones. The audio interface could deliver a really neat way to interact with your music archive (a bit like the geeky thrill of asking Siri to play something on an iPhone). It’s also a hint that Glass is approaching a public release.
Source : http://www.fastcompany.com/3021529/tech-forecast/google-is-bringing-music-to-glass-with-stereo-earbuds
Google Glass is a wearable computing device. It brings a new form factor to the wide array of connected devices already in existence. It features a strange design with a glass prism that acts as the display. Smartphones & tablets have revolutionized the tech industry by capturing the market share which was once dominated by form factors such as desktop computers. Well, Google Glass is an extension of that ongoing paradigm change and a glimpse into the future. It also takes augmented reality to a new level while simplifying many of our day to day interactions with the smartphones.
Google has many faces. The craziest of them all is about Google X. Google X labs is the place where futuristic ideas like driverless cars take shape. It’s also the birthplace of Google Glass. The team behind the Glass project had been working on it from 2011. And early this year Google announced the “Glass Explorer Programme” and launched the “Explorer Edition” of Google Glass hardware. This is limited to selected few people around the world who will test the device and provide feedback to Google. The purpose? To come up with a better & improved consumer version. That’s right, the “Explorer edition” is not the final design of Google Glass.
Exilesoft Pvt Ltd is a technology-focused software outsourcing partner. Their development center is located in Sri Lanka. The team at Exilesoft are lucky enough to work with Google Glass. Amalan Dananjayan, a budding software engineer at Exilesoft, is one of the lucky few to use & develop apps for the Google Glass. The diGit team met Amalan at the Exilesoft office to explore more on this futuristic gadget. We had an interesting chat with Amalan covering various aspects from consumer and developer points of view. To learn more about Google Glass, check out our exclusive interview below. You can learn much from what it does, how it works and if you’re a developer, on how to develop for the Glass ecosystem. So why wait?
Check the Interview Video here.
A new runtime in Android may soon replace Dalvik.
Android apps run in Dalvik. We know this as sure as the sun rises in the morning and water is wet. It is the foundation of how Android apps can run on a variety of devices with different amounts of RAM and processors.
In the near future, Google may be getting rid of Dalvik for a new standard that runs Android apps called Android Runtime (ART).
Dalvik is the virtual machine that compiles the code that make your Android apps work. Typically, Android apps are written in the Java programming language and compiled into bytecode—the generic numeric code that is submitted by developers to app stores like Google Play (the same code makes it less processor intensive to run on a variety of devices). That bytecode is then transferred from a Java Virtual Machine file to a Dalvik executable file.
You may think that all your apps and the code that makes them live in a happy place somewhere inside your smartphone. Really, they don’t. That happy place doesn’t exist. In reality, every time you run an app, the bytecode that comprises the program is run through a compiler that makes it work. In Android, this is done through a process known as a “Just In Time” (JIT) compiler that translates the universal bytecode into machine code, which in turn becomes a hardware-specific program known as an app. This is essentially what Dalvik in Android does.
Imagine: every time you open an app, all the different parts of the smartphone responsible for making that app work have to scramble to assemble the code for the app to make it work on your device. You close the app and all those parts relax. You open it and they scramble again. This is not a very efficient way to run apps but it allows those apps to run basically anywhere (it was one of the reasons it was so easy for BlackBerry to port Android apps to the BlackBerry 10).
With Android Runtime, Google will attempt to change this process so that apps run faster and are more tied to the hardware of the device than ever.
What Is ART?
I first ran into Android Runtime—ART—earlier this week when diddling with the developer settings on the Nexus 5. It is presented in the Developer Options settings of the device as “Select Runtime.” “Use Dalvik” or “Use ART” are the options.
There has not been a lot written about ART but Android Police seems to have the scoop. ART has been secretly in the works from Google for about two years. ART uses an “Ahead Of Time” (AOT) compiler instead of JIT. It is like a Web browser pre-caching websites to be able to load them faster. The AOT compiler translates the bytecode into machine code when an app is downloaded on a device. This machine code may take up more storage memory on a device, but it will make apps open faster and run smoother than before.
Hidden within Google’s Android developer website is a very short introduction to ART:
ART is a new Android runtime being introduced experimentally in the 4.4 release. This is a preview of work in progress in KitKat that can be turned on in Settings > developer options. This is available for the purpose of obtaining early developer and partner feedback.
Important: Dalvik must remain the default runtime or you risk breaking your Android implementations and third-party applications.
Two runtimes are now available, the existing Dalvik runtime (libdvm.so) and the ART (libart.so). A device can be built using either or both. (You can dual boot from Developer options if both are installed.)
The important note here is that ART is an experimental setting for developers and device manufacturers. It can lead to instability of the operating system, cause apps to crash constantly and basically turn your Nexus 5 into a worthless hunk of attractively lasered plastic.
Cody Toombs of Android Police outlines the potential benefits of ART:
Thus far, estimates and some benchmarks suggest that the new runtime is already capable of cutting execution time in half for most applications. This means that long-running, processor-intensive tasks will be able to finish faster, allowing the system to idle more often and for longer. Regular applications will also benefit from smoother animations and more instantaneous responses to touch and other sensor data. Additionally, now that the typical device contains a quad-core (or greater) processor, many situations will call for activating fewer cores, and it may be possible to make even better use of the lower-powered cores in ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture. How much this improves battery life and performance will vary quite a bit based on usage scenarios and hardware, but the results could be substantial.
Are we soon to see the end of Dalvik in favor of a more efficient runtime that could make Android apps perform much, much better? Probably not quite yet. Google will test ART with its manufacturing partners and developers for the foreseeable future. If ART works like it is supposed to, all that scrambling within a smartphone to make an app work will stop and the code that runs the app will just be there on your device, waiting for you to open it.
Source : http://readwrite.com/2013/11/07/how-google-may-be-planning-to-make-android-apps-faster-with-art#awesm=~omAbIK97N2Ft3E
If you only need a few more Play credits to buy that game or rent a movie, then you might be interested in a new app simply called Google Opinion Rewards. Just as its name suggests, all you have to do to earn credit is to answer a weekly survey with up to ten questions each. Of course, you’ll have to enter in your Google Walletcredentials first so that it’ll know where to send that money. As for what sort of questions you may expect, Google is partnering up with a variety of researchers from brands like P&G, Lowes and Priceline who need public insight on topics like the best promotional campaign or what sort of cars you might be interested in. Sure it takes awhile to answer a few questions and you’ll be an inadvertent pawn in a corporate marketing strategy, but you’ll soon forget all that once you get to the next level in Candy Crush.
Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/06/google-opinion-rewards/
Google’s desire to integrate social features into its mobile OS will soon see it use Google+ profile photos to identify Android callers. The new feature comes as an update to the new caller ID service in Android 4.4 KitKat, allowing the company to automatically match phone numbers from incoming and outgoing calls with names and profile photos associated with a registered account. Google staffer Attila Bodisnotes that the feature will be enabled in “early 2014″ but can only display names and profile photos if the user has verified their phone number and has discovery switched on. While the idea is to bring a sense of familiarity to phone calls, not everyone will see the merit of sending a headshot to people they call — so Google is offering an way to opt out. Simply head on over to this link, untick the checkbox and all of your Android-toting friends will no longer be able to see your beautiful face (unless, of course, they add it themselves).
Source : http://www.engadget.com/2013/11/06/google-profile-photos-android-calls/
By now we all know that Google’s not-so-secret Nexus 5 is for sale. We got our hands on a review unit and here are our initial impressions. Keep in mind that these are only first impressions after having used it for a few hours and so haven’t completely taken it through the wringer, but we wanted to show you what you can expect for this $349 and $399 phone.
There’s nothing that makes the packaging stand out among all of the other Nexus devices, but when you open up the box and take out the Nexus 5, this is where your new Nexus experience begins. At just 8.59 millimeters and weighing 4.8 ounces, the smartphone is extremely thin and light — it almost felt as though it could break while in your hands.
The 5-inch display makes it suitable to fit in the palm of your hands, but while carrying it in my pocket while walking through San Francisco, it sort of felt like it was out of place — perhaps I’ve grown too accustomed to the fact that I’ve had 3- to 4-inch phones for the past few years. Although you can hold the device in one hand, it doesn’t immediately feel comfortable enough size to manage all your affairs as such. Trying to type out emails or using certain apps required the use of both hands.
Users will notice that the display is sharp, perhaps akin to Apple’s Retina display. All the details of the icons and content on the phone are pretty clearly visible.
LG is the company behind the Nexus 5. The construction appears to be pretty sturdy and it’s quite easy to grip. However, the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screendoes make it prone to smudges and fingerprints and almost as soon as I took the phone out of the box and removed the screen covering, a fingerprint emerged.
The camera has 8.1 megapixels and comes with optical image stabilization. It takes some pretty good photographs which we’ll be showing off later, including HDR and Photo Spheres. There’s a single flash on the Nexus 5, which when enabled, will turn on as you try and focus on something in a darkened room. So if you plan on taking photos at a night club or in the evening, better warn people of two flashes.
So what about KitKat, Google’s latest Android operating system? In my preliminary assessment, it’s stable and useful. The fact that Google Now has been incorporated so well into the platform so that it’s accessible from any of the home screen windows will hopefully help users find what they want quicker.
In a bit of a pet peeve, the phone will respond to anyone that says “OK Google”. It’s interesting that KitKat hasn’t incorporated the same preventative measure that Google has with its Glass product (it won’t activate when random people walk by and scream “OK Google” into the device). Nevertheless, I found Google Now useful, especially when I asked it to open apps. Gmail and Flipboard opened instantly, though Instagram failed to open on cue. Why that happened is unknown, so a bit of tweaking could be done — it’s still far from perfect.
The overall appearance of Android 4.4 is decent, but if you’re expecting a remarkable overhaul from Jellybean, you’re going to be disappointed. Although the aesthetics haven’t changed that dramatically, the experience itself has. We’ll dive deeper into this when we have an opportunity to do a more in-depth review of the Nexus 5.
Nexus 5 owners will also find that it includes the latest Hangouts app, which lets you to send SMS and MMS messages, along with Quickoffice, which enables you to open or create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations — a potential rival to Microsoft Office.
Google Wallet also comes installed on KitKat, which is needed in order to take advantage of the “Tap & pay” feature.
When I received the phone it had a fully charged battery. After seven hours, it still has 56 percent remaining after setting it up, installing apps, checking email, taking a few photos, and surfing the Web. Besides that, the rest of the power consumption was through the screen being on and also Google Search. However, as I begin to use it more with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and checking email, it will be interesting to see how well the battery stands up.
Plastic cases are also available for the Nexus 5 and Google included a florescent orange/pink one — it’s noticeably bright so you won’t miss it in a darkened environment. It’s flimsy, but sturdy enough for those who want some added protection for their device without paying a lot for it.
Based on the few hours we’ve had to play with the Nexus 5, it’s a solid-looking and flexible device that has the potential to help you get the information you want, make sure you arrive at your destination safely, and be a productivity workhorse. This device may be Google’s effort to stand up against the likes of the iPhone 5s, the HTC One, or the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it might fall short of that aspiration. It’s certainly offering some premium features, but at an affordable price point.
Source : http://thenextweb.com/google/2013/11/02/hands-first-impressions-googles-nexus-5-android-4-4-kitkat/
‘The Google Glass Project’, a real life case study of agile practices was presented at Colombo Agile Meet up on 1st of October 2013 at Voice Lounge, Burgher Recreation Club.
The presentation commenced with Shamira Dias (Delivery Manager, Exilesoft), addressing the gathering on the topic “Unfamiliar territory and uncertain outcomes: The Google Glass Project”. He introduced the company, Exilesoft as a software development company working on different technologies and in different business domains. He reverted back to his topic by explaining the collaboration gap and agile practices that Exilesoft used to overcome these hurdles. He introduced the Google glass project as the best example for unfamiliar territory and uncertain outcomes projects and explained the case study by introducing the Google Glass project team Shervon, Sanath and Amalan. Further he enlightened on the agile practices (i.e. shorter sprint cycles, frequent demos, always working software and good infrastructure (unit testing, continuous integration)) that helped them to reach the project goals.
Subsequently the talk was passed onto Sanath Nandasiri (Software Engineer, Exilesoft) one of the developers, in the ongoing Google Glass project. He explained what Google Glass is, what it is capable of and its available features. A live Google Glass Demonstration was the highlight of the evening. One of the important features was, it runs Android 4.0.4 and it got a wonderful natural voice recognition which has a high accuracy rate.
Further on Sanath moved into Google Glass development. There are two ways that we can approach the GLASS development. Namely the native way (Android) and by using Glassware development (Server Side using Mirror API). He proceeded to explained how the glassware works, what the role of the Mirror API is and the technologies used to develop a Glassware. Native development is similar to the traditional android development but with some restriction of functionality and libraries. One of the reasons for the restriction is caused by the lack of sensors in Google GLASS unlike normal Android phone. Those functions can be achieved by pairing your Android phone through Bluetooth. It was also explained how the glassware authentication takes place under the hood.
The next round of demo sessions explained in detail the Google GLASS Time line. Sanath demonstrated application of Google Glass to an Android phone running Android 4.0.4 or a later version, this he explained to be a great emulator to test your Glassware apps (however it may not be used to test native apps).
Finally Dulan Bandara (Senior Software Engineer, Exilesoft), elaborated on unit testing and its importance in an unfamiliar territory with uncertain outcomes. He further explained the implementation of unit testing in the Google glass project. A comparison of unit testing on Android and unit testing on Google Glass was followed by a hands-on coding demo for the unit testing.
Volunteers from the audience were given the opportunity to experience the Google Glass. The presentation concluded with the Introduction of a new meet up group “Colombo Mobile Meetup”, and an Announcement of the upcoming Dev Day 2013.