Android Archive

Google cuts Play Store fees to 15% on first million dollar of sales

Starting on July 1, 2021 we are reducing the service fee Google Play receives when a developer sells digital goods or services to 15% for the first $1M (USD) of revenue every developer earns each year. With this change, 99% of developers globally that sell digital goods and services with Play will see a 50% reduction in fees. These are funds that can help developers scale up at a critical phase of their growth by hiring more engineers, adding to their marketing staff, increasing server capacity, and more. While these investments are most critical when developers are in the earlier stages of growth, scaling an app doesn’t stop once a partner has reached $1M in revenue — we’ve heard from our partners making $2M, $5M and even $10M a year that their services are still on a path to self-sustaining orbit. This is why we are making this reduced fee on the first $1M of total revenue earned each year available to every Play developer, regardless of size. We believe this is a fair approach that aligns with Google’s broader mission to help all developers succeed. We look forward to sharing full details in the coming months. Hopefully this will help small developers.

What’s new in the first Android 12 Developer Preview

The first Android 12 developer preview hit the streets Thursday, and we’ve played with it for a day. There’s not a lot to see in this release—at least not at first. Most of the interesting bits are hidden, and the developer community is slowly enabling them. Many changes are half-finished alpha tweaks that will look different in the final release; after all, Google says these releases are for “testing and feedback.” This first release of Android 12 is meant to get some APIs and other changes in front of people for feedback, but it’s also designed to not spill the beans too much on what the final build of Android 12 will look like. With that in mind, many of the features in an earlier Android 12 leak seem right on the money. This public release is a sanitized build with a lot of stuff turned off, but the more we flip on hidden flags and catch hints in the documentation, the more this build looks like a solid halfway point between Android 11 and those leaked Android 12 screenshots. Ars always has great overviews of upcoming Android releases, and this one is no exception.

First Android 12 Developer Preview released

Today, we’re releasing the first Developer Preview of Android 12, the next version of Android, for your testing and feedback. With each version, we’re working to make the OS smarter, easier to use, and better performing, with privacy and security at the core. In Android 12 we’re also working to give you new tools for building great experiences for users. Starting with things like compatible media transcoding, which helps your app to work with the latest video formats if you don’t already support them, and easier copy/paste of rich content into your apps, like images and videos. We’re also adding privacy protections and optimizing performance to keep your apps responsive. As is standard practice by now, this first Developer Preview focuses mostly on under-the-hood and developer features, leaving the user-focused features for later releases.

Google explores alternative to Apple’s new anti-tracking feature

Google is exploring an alternative to Apple Inc.’s new anti-tracking feature, the latest sign that the internet industry is slowly embracing user privacy, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Internally, the search giant is discussing how it can limit data collection and cross-app tracking on the Android operating system in a way that is less stringent than Apple’s solution, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private plans. Of course it’s going to be less stringent than Apple’s solution. Can’t limited ad tracking too much if ad tracking is how you make money.

Huawei’s HarmonyOS: “fake it till you make it” meets OS development

Remember HarmonyOS, the operating system Huawei claimed it had written from the ground-up? Yeah it’s just Android 10. After getting access to HarmonyOS through a grossly invasive sign-up process, firing up the SDK and emulator, and poring over the developer documents, I can’t come to any other conclusion: HarmonyOS is essentially an Android fork. The way that Huawei describes the OS to the press and in developer documents doesn’t seem to have much to do with what the company is actually shipping. The developer documents appear almost purposefully written to confuse the reader; any bit of actual shipping code to which you hold up a magnifying glass looks like Android with no major changes. The phrase “fake it till you make it” is often given as motivational advice, but I’ve never seen it applied to OS development before. If you’ve ever seen a modern Huawei Android phone, HarmonyOS is largely the same thing… with a few strings changed. So while there’s not much new to see, we can at least dissect HarmonyOS and debunk some of Huawei’s claims about its “brand-new” operating system. So nothing new under the sun here.

Google kills Android Things, its IoT OS, in January

The Google kills Android Things, its IoT OS, in January | Ars Technica, a version of Android meant for the Internet of Things. Google announced it had basically given up on the project as a general-purpose IoT operating system in 2019, but now there’s an official shutdown date thanks to a new FAQ page detailing the demise of the OS. Google promised three year of updates, but with the last update coming out in August 2019 and Android Things being launched in May 2018, Google made it to 1 year and 3 months.

Google and Qualcomm partner to deliver 4 years of Android updates for new Snapdragon devices

Over 3 years ago, Google announced Project Treble, a major rearchitecting of Android designed to speed up software updates. While the architecture introduced by Project Treble has helped OEMs to speed up the delivery of major Android OS updates and monthly security patches, it has had an adverse effect on SoC providers like Qualcomm. In fact, Treble has actually increased the complexity, and thus the engineering costs, associated with providing Android OS update support for any given chipset. That has limited the length of support that Qualcomm can provide for its SoCs, but that will soon change. All Snapdragon SoCs launching with Android 11 or later—starting with the Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm will support 4 Android OS version updates as well as 4 years of security updates. That’s an additional year than they previously provided for their flagship 800-series chipsets. Since virtually all popular Android devices use Qualcomm chipsets, this is a big boon for Android users.

Everything you need to know about Android’s Project Mainline

One of the biggest changes in Android in recent years that flew under the radar, relatively speaking against its importance, was the introduction of Project Mainline in Android 10. Google mandates the inclusion of specific Mainline modules across Android releases, with Android 11 coming in with a combined compulsory total of 25 Mainline modules. Here is an explanation on what Project Mainline is and what it aims to solve, alongside a list of all of Android’s Project Mainline modules. A great overview of this very important, relatively new part of Android.

The Fairphone 3+ is a repairable dream that takes beautiful photos

A few weeks ago, I found myself in need of a repair for a borked camera lens on my iPhone 11. I do everything in my power to essentially encase my Apple products in bubble wrap, but a nearly imperceptible fracture in one lens had greatly impacted the functionality of my phone’s camera. I hadn’t anticipated that repairing it was going to be a whole thing, but finding a way to get it repaired quickly in my area turned out to be futile. And repairing it myself? Pfft, forget it. This inability to quickly remedy such a small issue stuck with me as I was demoing the Fairphone 3+, a £425.00 (roughly $550) modular phone currently only available overseas. I desperately wish it or something like it were available in the United States because it makes it so easy to repair that just about anyone can fix their own phone—a rarity in this gadget repair dystopia we’re living in. This should be more normal than it is.

Android 11 released

Android 11 has arrived! The latest release is all about helping you get to what’s important on your phone with easier ways to help you manage your conversations, connected devices, privacy, and much more. In honor of the 11th version of Android, here are 11 new things that are coming in Android 11. That’s the Google PR blurb, and here’s the conclusion from The Verge’s review of Android 11: When (or, sadly, if) the update arrives on your Android phone, what you’ll find is that a few important things that used to get lost in the interface are now easier to find. You’ll also see that Android is still playing catch-up with iOS when it comes to privacy restrictions, but progress is nevertheless being made. Mostly, though, you’ll get a very familiar interface that does very familiar things. That’s not a complaint, just a recognition that Android 11 is a mature OS, so year-over-year improvements tend to be in the “slow and steady” category. Coming to a phone near you. At some point. Maybe. Who knows.

Android 11 is taking away the camera picker, forcing people to only use the built-in camera

Android may have started with the mantra that developers are allowed to do anything as long as they can code it, but things have changed over the years as security and privacy became higher priorities. Every major update over the last decade has shuttered features or added restrictions in the name of protecting users, but some sacrifices may not have been entirely necessary. Another Android 11 trade-off has emerged, this time taking away the ability for users to select third-party camera apps to take pictures or videos on behalf of other apps, forcing users to rely only on the built-in camera app. They’re small changes, but they’ve been adding up over the years to make Android less and less desirable. Sadly, there’s really no other viable option, so we’re stuck with it.

Google reportedly peeks into Android data to gain edge over third-party apps

Google for several years has collected app-usage data collected from Android phones to develop and advance its own competing apps, a new report alleges. The project, called Android Lockbox, “collects sensitive Android user data” for use within Google and has been in effect since at least 2013, The Information reports. Abuse such as this by platform vendors will continue to take place, and it will continue to get worse and more brazen, because governments and judicial systems simply aren’t designed to deal with the massive international nebulous webs of dozens of individual legal entities that make up a single company. They wield immense power, can spend infinite amounts of money to change any law they don’t like, and aren’t subservient to the people – i.e., the government – like they should be. Either governments start drastically cutting these massive corporations up – divide and conquer – or the entire western world is at risk of becoming corporate dystopias.

Microsoft and Google team up to make PWAs better in the Play Store

We’re glad to announce a new collaboration between Microsoft and Google for the benefit of the web developer community. Microsoft’s PWABuilder and Google’s Bubblewrap are now working together to help developers publish PWAs in the Google Play Store. PWABuilder.com is Microsoft’s open source developer tool that helps you build high quality PWAs and publish them in app stores. Bubblewrap is Google’s command line utility and library to generate and sign Google Play Store packages from Progressive Web Apps. I hope this further improves PWAs, since they are a godsend for smaller operating systems and even bigger ones that are not macOS or Windows. Sure, nothing beats a proper native application, but if the choice is no application or a reasonably integrated PWA – I’ll take the PWA.

Chrome for Android is finally going 64-bit

The first Android version to support 64-bit architecture was Android 5.0 Lollipop, introduced back in November 2014. Since then, more and more 64-bit processors shipped, and today, virtually all Android devices are capable of running 64-bit software (excluding one or two or more oddballs). However, Google Chrome has never made the jump and is only available in a 32-bit flavor, potentially leading to some unnecessary security and performance degradations. That’s finally changing: Starting with Chrome 85, phones running Android 10 and higher will automatically receive a 64-bit version. It seems odd to me that it took them this long to move one of the most important applications in Android to 64 bit.

System hardening in Android 11

In Android 11 we continue to increase the security of the Android platform. We have moved to safer default settings, migrated to a hardened memory allocator, and expanded the use of compiler mitigations that defend against classes of vulnerabilities and frustrate exploitation techniques. An overview of the security-related changes in Android 11.

iPhone 6S getting iOS 14 is like the Galaxy S6 getting Android 11. Imagine that.

At this point, saying Android has a serious problem when it comes to phones receiving reliable Android upgrades is getting old. We’ve written about it a lot — even I, specifically, have written about it a lot. You’ve told us your thoughts. We all get it. Even with all that, though, the latest announcement of iOS 14 really sends the message home. This week, Apple officially confirmed that the 2020 iteration of iOS will land on every iPhone since the iPhone 6S. That’s a phone that came out in September 2015, which is nearly five years ago. Meanwhile, the flagship Android device from 2015 was the Samsung Galaxy S6. The most recent official version of Android that phone received was Android 7 Nougat, which dropped in 2016. Of course, it was well into 2017 before the Galaxy S6 actually got it. Since then: nothing. Apple deserves praise for being pretty much the only smartphone manufacturer supporting its devices for this long. Despite years of attempts and failed promises, Android devices still barely get two years of updates, and even if, they arrive with major delays.

Android Studio 4.0 released

Some highlights of Android Studio 4.0 include a new Motion Editor to help bring your apps to life, a Build Analyzer to investigate causes for slower build times, and Java 8 language APIs you can use regardless of your app’s minimum API level. Based on your feedback, we’ve also overhauled the CPU Profiler user interface to provide a more intuitive workflow and easier side-by-side analysis of thread activity. And the improved Layout Inspector now provides live data of your app’s UI, so you can easily debug exactly what’s being shown on the device. It’s available on the stable channel.

Google is requiring Virtual A/B on new Android 11 devices, paving the way for mandatory Seamless Updates

With Android 7.0 Nougat, Google introduced a partition scheme designed to speed up software updates. In Nougat, Google added support for duplicating certain partitions so that inactive partitions can get updated in the background and then swapped to active with a quick reboot. This “A/B partition” setup allows for “seamless updates” to take place on supported Android devices, much like Google’s Chrome OS. However, Google has never mandated the use of A/B partitions, so many devices out there that don’t support seamless updates. That could change with Android 11, however, as Google is making it mandatory for newly launched devices to support virtual A/B partitions. Anything to make the update situation on Android smoother is welcome.

LineageOS 17.1, based on Android 10, released

We have been working extremely hard since Android 10’s release last August to port our features to this new version of Android. Thanks to massive refactoring done in some parts of AOSP, we had to work harder than anticipated to bring some features forward, and in some cases, introduced implementations similar to some of our features into AOSP (but we’ll get to that later). Other than the Android 10 features, LineageOS 17.1 also brings back theming support (deprecated in 13.0), and the default installation solution is now Lineage Recovery (but other recoveries are still supported, and may even be advised by maintainers for specific devices). Not every Android devices is supported right away, of course, but there’s a decent number of supported devices regardless.