Android L: All you need to know about Google’s next mobile OS!

Google held its annual developer conference, Google I/O yesterday, and it was pretty much a given that it would showcase a new version of Android, smartwearables, Android TV and Android for cars. Google did show us all of these things but the biggest change was to Android itself.

Android fans and developers got to see a new version of Android codenamed ‘L’. This version will be out in fall of 2014 and will come pre-loaded on new Android devices. Of course, for older devices it will be up to OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to decide when they will send out the update.

“This is one of the most comprehensive releases we have done: it has over 5,000 new APIs, and we are thinking not just for mobile, but for form factors beyond mobile,” said Google’s Android and Chrome boss Sundar Pichai, during the keynote presentation at I/O.

And while there’s a good chance that Android L could be called Android Liquorice or Android Lollipop by the time it comes out, it has a lot of stuff that’s new. We take a quick look.

First up, Android L will see the software get a massive design change. Google has gone for something called Material Design which lets developers add shadows and seams to give visuals on a phone’s screen the appearance of depth. Essentially Material Design will allow developers to add a more animated element to their apps. Elements can dynamically shrink and expand, there’s more white space between elements, and there’s an overall 3D look.

According to Google’s own blog, Material Design will allow developers to, “...apply to your apps for a new style: it lets you easily infuse your own color palette into your app, and offers new system widgets, screen transitions and animated touch feedback. We’ve also added the ability to specify a view’s elevation, allowing you to raise UI elements and cast dynamic, real-time shadows in your apps.”

As this piece on CNET explains “Material Design opens up a 3D interface even on 2D screens by letting programmers specify not just what color a pixel should be, but how high it should be in a virtual stack.” Google will also bring this Material Design to Chrome OS.

Secondly Google is promising improved processor performance on smartphones. Google has introduced Android Runtime (ART) as the system default. According to the company’s official blog, “ART offers ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, more efficient garbage collection, and improved development and debugging features.”

There’s also support for 64-bit support architecture. Google also says that apps written in the Java language can run immediately on 64-bit architectures with no modifications required. The company is als promising better graphics on L via OpenGL ES 3.1 and thus ensure that app developers can get capabilities such as compute shaders, stencil textures, and texture gather for their games.

Better Battery performance is also going to be a key part of Google L. Project Volta as Google calls it comes with new tools and APIs to help apps run efficiently and conserve power. There’s also a Battery Historian, a new tool that will let developers see how their app ends up using power over time. There’s also a job scheduler API to ensure that developers can set some tasks to run when the device is charging or idle to reduce battery usage.

Matias Durante, Vice President, Design at Google, speaks on stage during the Google I/O Developers Conference at Moscone Center. AFP

Matias Durante, Vice President, Design at Google, speaks on stage during the Google I/O Developers Conference at Moscone Center. AFP

Notifications on Android L are also going to see drastic changes as well. Google will ensure that users can access notifications content, updates without unlocking the screen. There’s also Heads-up notification, which will appear in a small floating window if the user is working on another app. Users can choose to reply to that notification while they are in the app or also ignore it. Developers can add their own colour and branding to the notifications.

The ‘Recents’ tab has also gone a drastic change in Android L. It will now show all recently used apps as “a stacked card overview” and will include recently accessed websites from Chrome. Other apps can also add items to the list. The advantage of this is that if you open a website on your mobile browser and then switch to something else, you can just go back to ‘Recents’ to view that website instead of opening Chrome all over again. It looks much prettier than the current multi-tasking system, and resembles more like the cards in Google View.

Google is also bringing in Universal Data Control L where Android users will be able to control how data on their handset is shared. Users will also be able to divide their devices between work and personal modes. Essentially this is Google’s way to reach out to the Enterprise user and convince them that an Android phone is just as good for work as it is for play. Interestingly  Google’s Sundar Pichai also mentioned Samsung’s Knox Security Technology (which allows division between work and personal data on Samsung phones) and said that they (as in Google) would be using the technology in Android as well.

Android devices can now function in Bluetooth Low Energy peripheral mode, which will let apps use this to let nearby devices know the presence of the smartphone. For instance, developers can apps that let a device function as a pedometer or health monitor and transmit data to another BLE device.

Android L will be out this fall. Image Tech2.

Android L will be out this fall.

 

Given that Android L will also allow for integration across Google devices such as Chromebooks, smartwatches that run on Android Wear, cars that support Android Auto, it’s evident that the company is pushing for a larger agenda with Android being the sun around which all of this will revolve. With Android L, what we’re seeing are some refreshing changes to the OS, but for users L will mean more if they end up getting the updates as soon as it is released, otherwise many won’t get access to these features.

Meet Amazon’s ‘Fire Phone’ With 5 Cameras, 3D Display, Dynamic Perspective and Much More!

Fire Phone

Dynamic Perspective

Experience interactions not possible on other smartphones. Tilt, auto-scroll, swivel, and peek to navigate menus and access shortcuts with one hand. Dive into a new class of immersive apps and games—peek to see detailed views of clothing, shoes, and more in the new Amazon Shopping app for Fire phone, or take on a character’s viewpoint to see around corners and obstacles in games.

Firefly technology

Quickly identify printed web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products—simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover useful information and take action in seconds.

Mayday

Get free, live, on-device video support with an Amazon expert, 24×7, 365 days a year at the touch of a button. No appointments necessary. Now available over the AT&T cellular network, in addition to Wi-Fi.

Immersive apps and games

Peek in maps to show Yelp ratings. In Stubhub stadium view, see 90 degrees to the left and right of your seat, as if you were actually there, looking around. In games, like Lili, take on the character’s viewpoint and move your head to look around corners, obstacles, and other objects.

One-handed short cuts

Access menus, shortcuts, and useful information with tilt, swivel, and peek.

Tilt for panels—use the left panel to navigate menus, and the right panel to access useful information and shortcuts, like attaching photos to a text message, viewing song lyrics, and more.

Swivel for access to important notifications and quick actions like Mayday, Flashlight, Settings, and more.

Peek keeps your display uncluttered by revealing additional details and quick actions only when you need it.

One-handed reading

With auto-scroll, scan long web pages or read entire books without ever having to touch the screen.

Phone numbers, web, and email addresses

Firefly identifies printed text on posters, magazines, and business cards—make calls, save new contacts, send emails, and visit websites without typing long addresses.

Movies & TV

Firefly recognizes over 240,000 movies and TV episodes, and 160 live TV channels. Firefly uses X-Ray, powered by IMDb, to show information on actors, plot details, and related content—add titles to your Watchlist or download to watch later.

Music

Firefly recognizes songs so you can access artist information, play related songs, download albums direct to your Fire phone, or add them to your Wish List to purchase later on. With Firefly-enabled apps like iHeartRadio and StubHub, you can create radio stations based on an identified artist, or even find tickets for their next show.

Over 70 million products

Recognize household items, books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more. Access product details, add items to your Wish List, or order on Amazon straight from your Fire phone.

Free, live, on-device tech support

Simply hit the Mayday button in quick actions and an Amazon expert will appear to help you via live video. Our tech experts can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best. Throughout the process, you’ll be able to see the Amazon expert live on your screen, but they won’t see you.

Now available over the AT&T cellular network

In addition to Wi-Fi, Mayday is now available over the AT&T cellular network. Enjoy free, on-device tech support, 24×7, 365 days a year. Normal data charges apply when you are using Mayday over the cellular network.

Help in 15 seconds or less

No waiting in line. No appointment required. The Mayday response time goal is 15 seconds or less.

13MP camera with optical image stabilization

Fire phone features a custom-tuned 13 megapixel camera system, with a fast five-element wide aperture f/2.0 lens for crisp, beautiful images. With optical image stabilization, Fire phone keeps the shutter open up to four times longer for stunning shots, even in low light conditions.

Stunning 1080p Video

Capture all the action in stunning HD. Fire phone records in 1080p at 30 fps from both front and rear-facing cameras, for great-looking video whatever you want to shoot.

Never miss a moment

No more fumbling to take a photo. With Fire phone’s dedicated camera button, you can launch the camera in just about a second—even when the screen is off.

Free unlimited cloud storage

Get free, unlimited cloud storage for all photos taken with Fire phone (in full resolution). No more worrying about what to delete.

Automatic back-up to Cloud Drive

Fire phone can automatically back up your photos and videos to Amazon Cloud Drive. Access anytime on Fire phone, other Amazon devices, or Cloud Drive apps.

Panorama, lenticular, and burst capture

Capture even the widest scene with the panorama setting, hold down the shutter button to capture a burst of shots in a fast-moving scene, or combine multiple images in lenticular mode.

Intelligent HDR

Fire phone automatically suggests when to turn on High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR merges multiple exposures into a more detailed, vibrant image—even in back-lit conditions.

Apple iPhone 6 leaked by Taiwanese star Jimmy Lin!

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Taiwanese singer/actor/race driver Jimmy Lin posted photos of himself holding the yet-unannounced iPhone 5c last year and now he’s back with the new iPhone 6. We’ve seen plenty of leaks of the iPod Touch-inspired iPhone, but given Mr. Lin’s track record these images are some of the more credible ones.

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Lin confirms the 4.7″ screen for the Apple iPhone 6 and notes that the antennas are still external. The new rounded corners improve the grip but the matte aluminum finish may be slippery.

To compensate for the taller device, the Power key has been moved on the right side. Also, it seems that Apple will be abandoning its dual-LED flash.

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Unfortunately, there are no technical details about the phone so we still don’t know the resolution of the 4.7″ screen.

According to info from Foxconn there will be a 5.5″ iPhone too.