In this week’s newsletter:
- All about Android 13 Beta 1
- Android 14’s internal codename
- Android 12 on RISC-V hardware
- CI/CD pipelines in Android apps
- …and other slices of delightfully sweet truth 🥧
In case you missed it
🍰 The Android 14 internal codename is here, and it’s…Upside Down Cake. Pineapple is the most common type of upside down cake, but apparently you can make a lot of cakes this way. Who knew?
🗺️ Google has been giving a tour of new features after each Android Feature Drop. Chrome OS users will already be familiar with this practice, and it’s especially nice to see it come to Android as well.
👮 A new section about data safety in apps is coming to Google Play. Developers must be transparent about what their apps do with user data, including how it’s collected, shared, and secured. They’ll have until July 20th to comply. The more info users have about what apps are doing, the better.
💽 Alibaba Cloud announced this week that it’s working on porting Android 12 to RISC-V hardware. The company previously showed Android 10 working on a RISC-V chipset designed by T-Head. The move to Android 12 is a significant advancement because RISC-V is an open source ISA (instruction set architecture), meaning anyone can build their own chips based on it without paying licensing or royalty fees. Android doesn’t natively support RISC-V, so any advancements made here only broaden RISC-V’s usefulness. The use case here is almost certainly for IoT and other specialized devices.
News for developers
- Check out this three-part series on the Android touch system from Android developer Sherry Yuan, including how it handles touches and why certain behaviors react the way they do. It’s pretty insightful stuff: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
- Speaking of useful series, the Android Developer Tips YouTube channel has a pair of videos on a subject near and dear to our hearts: CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery). The focus is specifically on CI/CD pipelines in Android apps, and it breaks each concept down into two separate videos. Part 1 covers CI, and part 2 covers CD.
- Google announced the Privacy Sandbox for Android back in February, and the first developer preview is available for the SDK Runtime and Topics API. This will allow you to start testing your apps — just keep in mind that this is an early preview, so it may not be fully functional yet. There’s a full look at what’s included on the Android Developers Blog.
Android Bytes: How Wear OS brings Android to your wrist
In this episode, we seek insight into Wear OS, formerly known as Android Wear. As with any other operating system Google has its hands in, there are some unique challenges that developers have had to deal with. Add to that the general malaise the software has experienced over the past several years and you could say that this ship needed to turn around. What does Wear OS 3.0 do to help with that?
David and Mishaal are joined by Sean Hoyt, an Android developer who worked on the BLOCKS and Open Watch smartwatch concepts, and Greg Viczian, a Wear OS app developer best known for his Bubble Cloud launcher.
Android in the news
I’ll give you three guesses on this week’s big focus (and the first two don’t count). If you guessed “Android 13 Beta 1,” then you’d be correct — the first Beta build of Android 13 landed this week for Pixel devices, but the GSI is also available.
As you likely expect, Beta 1 contains a slew of new features, which Mishaal has done an excellent job of outlining in his Android 13 Deep Dive. Here’s a look at a few of the most noteworthy features and changes in Beta 1.
More transparent media file permissions: Android 10 introduced Scoped Storage to cut down on the number of apps having access to all your files. The READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission used to give broad access to those directories, but its scope was reduced to only give access to media files stored in specific locations. Android 13 splits this permission in three, so apps now have to request separate permissions to access audio, video, and images.
Smart home control gets more accessible: Starting in Android 11, you could access many smart home control options directly from the Device Controls area that lived in the power menu. In Android 12, a tile was introduced into the Quick Settings panel and a shortcut on the lock screen, offering quicker access to a customizable list of smart home devices. The catch is that the phone must be unlocked to access this tile. Android 13 has a toggle to allow smart home control access without unlocking the phone — the smart home app just has to offer support.
A more powerful and secure clipboard: When copying text, Android 13 displays a small overlay in the bottom left corner with a preview of the clipboard contents and an edit button or appropriate action (like maps or phone). This is very similar to the overlay when taking a screenshot on Android 11+ devices. The clipboard also automatically clears itself after one hour. This is a feature pulled from Gboard that will work across the whole system, meaning it works with third-party keyboards as well.
More colors and styles for Material You dynamic theming: One of Android 12’s most notable features is monet, the dynamic theming engine that generates color palettes from the applied wallpaper to theme the rest of the system with matching aesthetics. Android 13 will expand the available theming options, allowing the system to offer a wider range of available colors.
The Android Resource Economy: Perhaps one of the most significant changes in Android 13 is the introduction of The Android Resource Economy — TARE — to manage how apps queue tasks. TARE uses a system of credits and balances to allow apps to queue tasks based on certain system factors (like battery life). Beta 1 presents fundamental changes to the way TARE worked previously, as it removes some restrictions on the way apps accrue credits so more credits will be available as apps need them. This is a much more intricate process than we have room for in this newsletter, but Mishaal did a great job of breaking the whole thing down in the Android 13 deep dive.
Android Inside: Yumpingo
Restaurant Hospitality is big right now — the best customer service is what truly sets restaurants apart. But how do you know how your customers feel? You could ask them yourself, but that’s not exactly easy to do in a way that scales into quantifiable data. That’s where Yumpingo comes in.
Yumpingo is a restaurant hospitality service that provides a quick, one-minute questionnaire to customers. While the service runs on nearly any mobile device, the Yumpingo One is the company’s dedicated device that streamlines the process. This AOSP-based, custom-branded device can “deliver checks, get real-time customer feedback, and maximize every transaction,” according to Yumpingo. In other words, it makes the feedback questionnaire part of the checkout process with a 50-80% engagement rate.
If you’re a restaurant owner or franchiser, you can learn more about the Yumpingo One here.
Android by the numbers
- 28.3 billion. That’s how many apps were downloaded from the Play Store in Q1 of 2022. Instagram was the top downloaded app.
- 1.2 million. That’s how many apps Google Play Protect blocked in 2021 for violating policies.
Android Dessert Bites: Android’s back gesture is getting predictive
Gesture navigation is getting revamped in Android 13, but Google won’t spill the beans on how until I/O in two weeks. This week, I’m sharing what I’ve learned about Android’s new predictive back navigation and how it could make navigation more seamless.
What we’re reading
It’s no secret that Google has a lot of work to make Android tablets relevant, but as ZDNet writer Ross Rubin points out, it’s going to take more than just a tablet-focused update.