The Samsung Galaxy S4 ‘developer edition’ is real, folks! Google has just announced the Galaxy S4 with stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and none of that TouchWiz wizardry. Pure Android, just as so many people like it.
The Galaxy S4 with stock Android will land on the Google Play store on June 26th for an off contract price of $649.
The S4 with stock Android will support 4G LTE and you’d be able to use it on the U.S. GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. It will have 16GB of internal storage, come with a fully unlocked bootloader and you won’t need to wait for system updates from carriers. Freedom, a lot of us wished for it, and now we have it!
Google announces new APIs for improved user location tracking
The Google I/O conference has just kicked off, and one of the first announcements made at the event was that of three new APIs – three great tools to help developers make better apps. In particular, the APIs aid in determining the location of the user in a number of clever ways.
The first of these tools is a location provider that takes advantage of all of the device’s sensors. The result is a more precise location obtained in a shorter time. At the same time, the software has been optimized to suck as little battery as possible – down to less than 1% per hour of usage.
The second API is called Geofencing and lets developers implement “borders” within their software. Actions then can be triggered within the software whenever the user physically crosses one of these borders.
Last but not least we have an API for activity recognition. Simply put, the software is capable of determining whether the user is walking, driving, or riding a bike.
Google unveils Android Studio: new smart IntelliJ-based IDE
Google said its I/O conference will be hugely focused on developers and one of the best news for coders is a brand new Android Studio, an integrated development environment (IDE) by Google that is based on the IntelliJ platform.
It comes with a deep semantic understanding of Android, and with internationalization (i18n) built in the IDE so you don’t have to hardcode i18n options but instead just refer to pre-built objects. It also comes with an absolutely brilliant layout editor showing you how your code looks on different form factors and screen sizes.
Android Studio comes with live code updates and even font changes are visible immediately. This – Google teases – is just scratching the surface.
“We have big plans for Android Studio — we plan to integrate more and more services.” Android Studio is definitely a big step forward for Google developers and shows that Google is not content with having that talk about Apple developers making more money than Android devs. That’s one smart step toward changing that.
Google announces Google Play Games Services with cross-platform gaming
We had heard that Google was working on a platform called Google Play Games, and the official announcement has been made. The platform comes in the form of a number of new APIs under the heading of Google Play Games Services, and it will offer all of the features that we came to expect based on various APK teardowns, but the real surprise is that Google is releasing the APIs for iOS and the web as well for true cross-platform gaming.
As we expected from the leaks and APK teardowns, Google Play Games Services will offer Cloud Save, which allows for syncing game saves across devices, public leaderboards, achievements, matchmaking, and multiplayer. As we expected, the leaderboards, and matchmaking for multiplayer will be managed by Google+, so you have one more reason to get into G+. The only feature that had been rumored that Google didn’t specifically mention was in-game chat, so we’ll have to keep our eyes out to see if that really will be made available.
We’ve compared this service to Xbox LIVE before, and that is mostly because, like LIVE, Google Play Games has Google servers doing the heavy lifting for the networking and multiplayer. As Hugo Barra put it: “We’re going to deal with all the hard networking problems and do all the work for you.”
There was an attempt at demoing multiplayer in Riptide 2, but the connection couldn’t be made. Barra blamed it on the overloaded network in the Moscone Center, and we’re hoping that really was the issue. Google has already pulled in a number of big name developers to Play Games Services, including Miniclip, Glu, Omni, Noodlecake, Gameloft, and more.
Google Play Services will begin rolling out today to all Android devices running Android 2.2 Froyo or higher. No word on when APIs would be available for iOS or the web.
Google unveils new unified ‘Hangouts’ messaging service for iOS, Android
Google’s I/O keynote is still ongoing, and the company just unveiled a major new service: Hangouts. Originally rumored to be called ‘Babel,’ Hangouts is a cross-platform messaging system that will take the place of Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Google+ Hangout video chat, and pretty much everything else.
It’s basically a messaging app, in the same vein as WhatsApp or Kik, offering synchronized chat across virtually all of your devices. Google has mixed in a lot of its own personal flavor though, building in the ability for users to go back through their chat history, delete messages, and even grab files from past conversations…
Continuing with the differences, the Hangout app presents users with a list of recent text conversations, rather than a contact list. Each conversation gets its own name, and is stored in the cloud, allowing users to message others even if they’re not connected. This also allows for seamless syncing between multiple devices.
TechCrunch has more on the service:
“Presence, or knowing when friends are available to chat, is a big focus. You can see when friends are on Hangouts, if they’re currently typing, and if they’ve seen your messages [also known as read receipts]. Using Google+ Circles, you can select specific friends or a whole group to start a chat with.
Hangouts takes care to deliver your messages to whichever web interface or mobile app your friends are using. If you’re offline, Hangouts will store your messages until you return. Unlike Google Talk, it won’t send you an email every time you get a message while offline.”
And all of this focus on ‘presence’ pays off, as Hangouts is constantly aware of what platform you’re using to chat. This way, you won’t have to worry about receiving duplicate notifications on different platforms. The idea here is that you can start and stop conversations smoothly regardless of if you’re on desktop, Android or iOS.