Happy Friday the 13th! In light of Google I/O 2022 and the sheer amount of content Mishaal has to dig through to find everything new, there’s no Android Dessert Bites column this week. In the meantime, you can take a look at everything new in Android 13 Beta 2.
In this week’s newsletter:
- All things Google I/O 2022
- Dead Zebra’s new Android mini figures
- Why Android development is different in 2022
- New Android betas
- New Pixel hardware is coming
In case you missed it
📱 Digital Wellbeing in Android 13 is getting a neat trick: wallpaper dimming. Bedtime Mode will not just lower screen brightness and enable the blue light filter, but it will have the ability to slowly and incrementally dim the device’s wallpaper as part of Android 13’s Cinematic Wallpapers. 9to5Google has a great look at how it will work.
🎎 We’re all big fans of Dead Zebra’s Android mini figures, but the newest series might be our favorites yet. Titled “@Work,” this set of minis highlights various lines of work that utilize Android, including healthcare workers, journalists, developers, teachers, restaurant workers, and more. They’ll be available for purchase individually or as a full set on 5/16 from Dead Zebra’s store.
💯 Looking for the highest of high level Google I/O 2022 overviews? Here’s Google’s list of 100 things announced at I/O.
News for developers
- Desktop AVD is now available in Android Studio so you can test your app’s compatibility with desktop environments like Chrome OS and the new Google Play Games for PC features. You’ll be able to test things like app resizing, freeform window management, and more. You can learn more on the Chrome OS dev blog.
- The stable release of Android Studio Chipmunk landed this week with a focus on stability and bug fixes. However, it does bring the ability to inspect and debug Jetpack Compose animations with the new Compose Animation Preview feature. You can catch the full skinny here.
- If you’re looking for everything announced for developers at Google I/O 2022, 9to5Google has a good roundup of all the details.
- Speaking of Jetpack Compose, Vinay Gaba on the Jetpackcompose.app blog has a productivity tip to help developers save hours.
- And finally, the Android Developers blog posted a nice little piece on testing Kotlin coroutines on Android.
Android Bytes: Why Android app development is easier (and harder) in 2022
It’s the week of Google I/O, the company’s big conference focused on development of its consumer platforms, so we talked with Laurence Dawson of Sync for Reddit on how the state of design and publishing is for newcomers in 2022 and with Android 13 on the way. If you’re one of them and wonder where to start, this show is for you.
Android in the news
Google announced a lot during the I/O keynote, including updates for search, Assistant, AI, and more. Our focus is on the platform and related Android news — here’s a high-level look at the biggest announcements and things we’re personally excited about.
Android Auto is getting an updated UI with a split interface: Android Auto will get a major update this summer with an inuitive new interface that allows users to do more without having to navigate away from the foreground application. The updated split-screen UI will allow two or three things on a single screen at once, which seems like a vast improvement over the current layout.
Google is pushing Android’s “better together” mantra in a big way: One of the biggest selling points for Apple devices is how well integrated the ecosystem is. That isn’t lost on Google, and it has been working hard to make Android a compelling alternative over the last few years. Android 13 and the recent hardware announcements are a great example of this, as the company is quick to point out when talking about features like security, cross-device sync from apps, instant setup for new devices, the improved Phone Hub on Chromebooks, and more. We’re getting close to a truly integrated ecosystem of devices. I’m here for it.
The Pixel 6a: The Pixel 6a was rumored for months leading up to I/O, so it’s no surprise that Google finally took off the wraps. The 6a is a nice update to the excellent Pixel 5a, featuring Pixel 6-style aesthetics and Google’s house-designed Tensor chip. At just $449, it’s a killer deal (especially if you need a reference Android development device).
The Pixel Buds Pro: Google’s Pixel Buds line has seen some pretty rough iterations, but Google nailed it with the budget-friendly Pixel Buds A-Series. The Buds Pro are the newest member of the Pixel Buds family, featuring ANC and transparency mode. They’ll also get support for Android 13’s spatial audio feature.
Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch: The long awaited Pixel Watch was also announced with very little in the way of specifics, but at least we know it’s a real thing now. It runs Wear OS and has deep Fitbit integration, but that’s essentially all we know. Rick Osterloh took great pleasure in also teasing the upcoming Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, which look gorgeous. The Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch will launch during the fall release cycle.
Pixel Tablet 🤯: In a move that shocked literally everyone in the room (both physically and virtually), Google teased the forthcoming Pixel Tablet. It won’t be out until 2023, but it’s incredibly exciting nonetheless. The Pixel Tablet will use a Tensor processor and share similar design aesthetics to Pixel phones (though it reminds me more of a Pixel 5 than a 6). Is it finally Android’s time for tablets? I hope so (I say while typing this on my iPad)!
AR glasses that break language barriers: It wouldn’t be Google I/O without some feel good tech, and they delivered in a big way this year. The company showed off a pair of unnamed AR glasses that transcribe languages in real-time — “like closed caption for real life.” The presentation was beautiful and sent chills down my spine. There’s something incredibly human about technology that breaks barriers this way.
Android Inside: Coolgreens Fresh Food Vending Machines
Last week, I was in Dallas, TX for my son’s quarterly visit to Children’s Medical Center. Between doctor visits, I spotted an interesting vending machine and had to check it out. It was a Coolgreens Fresh Food vending machine, stocked with salads, sandwiches, and other things — including a brown butter crispy rice treat, which I grabbed without hesitation. If you’ve never had a crispy rice treat made with brown butter, you are missing out.
But I digress. I immediately noticed that the display looked familiar, especially once it loaded up the receipt menu asking for my email address. No doubt about it, this thing is running Android. It’s part payment terminal and part menu, but it’s also responsible for handling the locking/unlocking of the machine door since this is basically a glorified refrigerator and not a typical vending machine. It’s a very cool idea, and using it was an excellent experience. If you get a chance to use one, I recommend it. Also, get the brown butter crispy rice treat.
Android by the numbers
- 1.5 million. That’s how many outdated/abandoned apps are currently available in the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. According to a recent study, there are more abandoned apps than actively maintained ones. This is likely one of the reasons Google will stop surfacing apps that don’t meet target API requirements.