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Google Announces New Play Console, Android O Developer Preview 2 & More

Android started in early 2007, today has over 2 billion monthly active devices globally. Celebrating this milestone, Google at the I/O showcased a number innovations including a beta release of Android O, and a new initiative to help bring Android to the next billion users.

Android O, coming later this year, will bring fluid experiences as well as improvements to “vitals” like battery life and security.

With O, the under the hood changes will make phone and apps startup faster, along with developers centric optimizations to prevent battery draining. The following features will make ways with O:

  • Picture-in-picture, lets you seamlessly do two tasks simultaneously, like checking calendar while planning a party on a Duo video call.
  • Smart Text Selection improves copy and paste. By using machine learning to recognize entities on the screen—like a complete address—you can easily select text you want with a double tap, and even bring up an app like Maps to help navigate you there.
Android O Smart Text Selection
Smart Text Selection
Android O Picture-in-picture
Picture-in-picture (PIP)

Developers can try the preview of O at android.com/beta, while users will be able to get hands-on later this year.

Google Play Protect, a comprehensive security services for Android devices brings along with following features “Find My Device” as part of Google Play Protect, allow to locate, ring, lock and erase Android devices. This feature is built in and enabled on all devices; visit android.com/find or check out the app.

Google Play Protect
Google Play Protect

Other features included such as:

  • Play Protect is built into every device with Google Play, is always updating, and automatically takes action to keep data and device safe.
  • Using machine learning system, it detects and removes harmful apps with over 50 billion apps scanned every day.
  • Watches out any app that might step out of line on a device, and warns about bad apps downloaded from other sources too.

Google Play Protect is available out-of-the-box on every Android device with Google Play today.

Android Go, designed with features relevant for those with limited data connectivity, speak multiple languages, basis on three key areas: Android OS, Google apps, and Google Play Store.

Starting with O, Android will run smoothly on entry-level devices as well and require less memory, storage space and mobile data, with apps—like YouTube Go, Chrome and Gboard.

And. Go specific version of Play Store, will also available that highlights apps specifically designed for the next billion users coming online, while still offering entire app catalog.

Below is a highlight of some the new features in O:

  • Picture-in-picture (PIP) provide seamless multitasking on any size screen, and it’s easy for apps to support it.
  • Notification dots extends reach of notifications, and enable developers to surface activity in their app, driving engagement. Even the color of the dot can be extracted from icon.
  • Android O Notification Dots
  • Autofill simplifies setting up a new device and synchronizing passwords. Once a user opts-in, Autofill will work out-of-the-box for most apps. Developers can provide hints about the type of data expected or add support in custom views for Autofill in their apps.
  • New homescreen for Android TV makes it easy for users to find, preview, and watch content provided by apps. You’ll be able to get started with creating channels using the new TvProvider support library APIs.
  • Smart Text Selection applies on-device machine learning to copy/paste, to let Android recognize entities like addresses, URLs, telephone numbers, and email addresses.
  • TensorFlow Lite, an upcoming project based on TensorFlow, is specifically designed to be fast and lightweight for embedded use cases. “Since many on-device scenarios require real-time performance, we’re also working on a new Neural Network API that TensorFlow can take advantage of to accelerate computation,” writes Google.
  • New background limits on background location and wi-fi scans, and changed way the apps run in the background to prevent overuse — so they’re about increasing battery life and freeing up memory.
  • Six new Android Vitals Dashboards in Play Console to help pinpoint common issues in apps – excessive crash rate, ANR rate, frozen frames, slow rendering, excessive wakeups, and stuck wake locks, including how many users are affected, with guidance on the best way to address the issues. You can visit the Play Console today to see your app’s data, then learn how to address any issues.

All three of these things will ship together, as a single experience, starting in 2018.

Also, earlier in the morning during the Developer keynote, Google talked about tools and services for developers who build on its platforms every day that include:

  • Android O Developer Preview 2 enable early adopters can opt in to the Android O Beta Program at android.com/beta and run Android O now. See the migration guide for steps and a recommended timeline.
  • Project Treble—a new Android framework designed to help reduce the time and effort it takes device makers to upgrade a phone to a new version of Android, starting with Android O.
  • Kotlin—officially supported programming language in addition to Java language and C++, is a brilliantly designed, mature, production-ready aims to make Android development faster. The Kotlin plug-in is now bundled with Android Studio 3.0 and is available for immediate download.
  • Android Studio 3.0 Canary—includes three major development features: a new suite of app performance profiling tools to quickly diagnose performance issues, support for Kotlin programming language, and increased Gradle build speeds for large sized app projects.
  • Mobile web—AMP and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are re-defining modern mobile web development. PWAs deliver reliable, fast and engaging app-focused experiences. Just use ‘Lighthouse’—an automated tool for measuring webpage quality.
  • Firebase—through Firebase Performance Monitoring, Google introducing integration between Hosting and Cloud Functions, adding support for Phone Number Authentication, and continuing to improve Analytics in a number of ways.
  • Two new mobile web developer certifications added today, “Mobile Sites Certification” and “Mobile Web Specialist Certification” to already existing Associate Android Developer Certification.
  • Google Play Console—several new features and reports to help developers improve their app’s performance, manage releases with confidence, reach a global audience, and grow their business made way today, as well as a new name.
  • Updated statistics page now let you compare two different metrics and break them down by a dimension. Select any date range you want, view a breakdown of your data, and even access hourly stats.
  • Release management dashboard help track a release as it happens.
  • New device catalog help ensure you offer a great user experience on the widest range of devices. Even you can see installs, rating, and revenue contributed by device type. You can also now set device exclusion rules by performance indicators like RAM and system on chip. With more granular controls you can exclude fewer devices and offer the best experience on all devices your app supports. Learn more about the device catalog.
  • App signing in Play Console, provide an option to securely transfer your key to Google to manage on your behalf.
  • Pre-launch report, powered by Firebase Test Lab, now shows the results of testing alpha or beta app on real devices in the lab, helping you to fix the issues without affecting your rating. The report now included Android O devices, and new controls, like being able to provide credentials so your app can be tested behind a login.
  • User acquisition report helps understand where visitors to a store listing are coming from and whether they go on to install and buy things in the app. It includes retained installer data. This reveals which channels and geographies drive valuable users who keep your app installed over periods of up-to 30 days, helping you optimize your marketing efforts.
  • Subscriptions dashboard help understand and analyze total subscribers, revenue, retention, and churn across multiple dimensions.
  • Android Instant Apps—run Android apps without requiring installation, now anyone can build and publish an instant app. To get started building an instant app, head over to developer.android.com and download the latest preview of Android Studio 3.0 and the Android Instant Apps SDK.
  • Payments, Monetization & Ads—New Google Payment API enables developers to give customers the ability to pay in apps and online with Google Account. You simply choose a preferred card, enter a security code or authenticate with your Android device, and check out.
  • In coming months, people in the U.S. will be able to send or receive payments via Google Assistant with on Google Home or Android device, by simply saying “Ok Google, send $10 to Jane for pizza.” All you need is a debit card linked to Google account.

    Through ‘Card Linked Offers API’ merchants can engage and reward customers before they walk into the store and after they’ve left.

    Additionally, it’s also easier now for Android Pay users to add loyalty programs. This experience is powered by smart tap technology. There’s more, as Google is collaborating with Clover, a First Data company, to expand smart tap technology beyond national retailers to businesses of all sizes. With the upcoming integration of smart tap in Clover’s developer APIs, you’ll be able to build Android apps for loyalty, coupon and gift card redemption and new features, such as order ahead and tap for pick up.

  • New AdMob integration with Google Analytics for Firebase helps them monetize efficiently and updates to Universal Apps Campaigns will help them grow their user base.
  • Actions on Google for Google Assistant—introduced new features and functionality, with improved SDK, plus a new ‘Actions Console,’ a new developer console helping developers work as a team, and collect data on app usage, performance and user discovery patterns.
  • This new console is integrated with Firebase and Google Cloud consoles.
  • A guide to Android app architecture along with a preview of Architecture Components along with recognizing the work done by popular Android libraries was annoounced as well.

    Also, a Guide to App Architecture that shows how to build a robust, modular, and testable app using Architecture Components is launched, too—with three main goals:

    • Defining principles that apply to Android app development.
    • Describing an app architecture that works with those principles.
    • Showing how to implement that architecture using Architecture Components.

    Check out the guide here.

    Fore Android Wear 2.0, Google released a suite of complication API tools, that make it easier for developers to add complication support to their watch faces, and a new Wear UI library, to help developers build watch friendly user interfaces.

    Four new Complications API tools for watch face developers to integrate with Complications API launched today, they include:

    • TextRenderer – Auto-sizes text to fit in bounds defined by watch face makers.
    • ComplicationDrawable – A full rendering solution for complications, that handles all the styling for you, and adjusts the layout to fit the space you specify
    • Easy watch face settings sample – Adoptable sample code that makes it easier to build complication settings with a rich and usable experience.
    • Complication test suite – A sample data provider to help check that your watch face can handle all the combinations of fields that can make up complication data.

    Starting Thursday, Google open sources some components and providing some Android Wear UI components in Android Support Library, that brings a number of advantages, including more consistent APIs with the rest of the Support Library, more frequent releases, and better responsiveness to developer feedback.

    In the first wave of these changes, “we migrated the WearableRecyclerView, BoxInsetLayout and SwipeDismissFrameLayout classes to the new Android Wear UI Library,” writes Google.

    • Migrate Wearable Support classes – Migrate and update Android Wear specific view components, such as WearableRecyclerView, from android.support.wearable.view in Wearable Support to android.support.wear.widget in the Android Support Library. This new package is available as open source. In terms of developer impact, we expect the migration process to be simple, with minor API name changes to bring consistency with the existing Android Support Library.
    • Merge some Android Wear functionality to Android – Some Android Wear components have a lot of overlap with Android, e.g. CircledImageView and DelayedConfirmationView. We will merge the Android Wear specific functionality with the Android counterparts under android.support.v4.widget.
    • Deprecate outdated user interface patterns – Two user interface patterns are deprecated with Android Wear 2.0: the Card pattern and the Multi-directional layout. As a result, we have deprecated all supporting classes, such as GridViewPager and CardFragment. Please refer to the class reference docs for their replacements.

    The migration process is expected to continue during 2017, and developers will have until mid-2018 to migrate to new UI components.

    For additional information, see Using the Wear UI Library document.

    Here are some statistics Goog shared around Android devices:

    • Watches: With new partners such as Emporio Armani, Movado and New Balance, Android Wear now enables 24 of the world’s top watch brands.
    • Cars: Android Auto has seen 10x user growth since last year, supported by more than 300 car models. And just this week, Audi and Volvo announced next generation infotainment systems will be powered by Android.
    • TVs: With 1 million new device activations every two months, Android TV has doubled its number of users since last year. And today we announced Android TV is revamping its home screen with a new channel-based, content-first experience so you can discover new shows and watch your favorites even faster.
    • Internet of Things: Android Things, which will fully launch later this year, already has thousands of developers in more than 60 countries using it to build connected devices with easy access to services such as the Google Assistant.
    • Chromebooks: Chromebooks, which can now run Android apps, comprise nearly 60 percent of K-12 laptops sold in U.S. schools and momentum is spreading. Adoption of Chromebooks in schools has doubled internationally, and we saw 75 percent growth in enterprise as well.
    • Play: Android users installed a staggering 82 billion apps and games in the past year from Google Play.
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