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Burned out retinas rejoice as Android M has dark theme

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

android_m_light_dark_auto_themes

If you are one of the Android fans who is irked by the extensive white screen real estate used by the operating system, Google has a little treat in store for you when Android M is finally released. Developers already poking into the new operating system have discovered Google has added a new dark theme.

Currently the setting for a theme is buried in the Developer Settings and appears to only work on the settings screens. However, we have seen how Google’s Material Design is able to change colors for several screen elements in Android L already, so it is not a stretch to see themes extend to the whole operating system.

For now, in addition to the new dark theme, Google also included an Automatic setting that will switch the theme based on the device’s clock.

Stay with us for more Google I/O 2015 coverage.

android_m_theme_setting

source: ArsTechnica

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Google announces upgrades to both Android Studio and Polymer

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Google-IO-2015-android-studio-13-version

Google today at I/O 2015 unveiled the next version of its development environment, Android Studio. At the same time, the company announced Poylmer 1.0, which is a web app toolkit designed to help developers bring apps and the web closer together.

Version 1.3 of Android Studio brings with it a whole host of hand features, such as native support for C/C++ development, faster build speeds, and a new memory profiler. Google’s addition of native support for C/C++ makes coding easier by eliminating the need for Google’s Native Development Kit (NDK). Instead, developers will be able to build software using the native coding language in Android 1.3. It removes a lot of hassle.

Google also announced Polymer 1.0, which has been rebuilt for “speed and efficiency.” It brings some handy features with it, such as allowing developers to simply drop in common features like toolbars and menus. It also now lets you add services like Maps and Charts and gives developers a way to build a mobile checkout flow within their apps. You can get the latest version of Polymer here.

Be sure to check out all of TalkAndroid’s Google I/O 2015 coverage.

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Developer Preview build of Android M will be available for Nexus devices later today

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Android M - Google IO 2015

Google is announcing many new things at I/O 2015 such as Android Pay, HBO NOW‘s imminent arrival on Android and Chromecast and statistics such as how many Chromecast customers it has. But, if you are the owner of a Nexus 5/6/9 or Nexus Player device, there’s probably only thing you are truly interested in hearing – whether there will be a developer preview build available for Android M.

Nexus 5, 6, 9 and PlayerWell, you are in luck. Google has posted a page with all the details pertaining to the Android M Developer Preview build. To get started, you need to follow these steps:

  • Update to Android Studio v1.3+ Preview
  • Visit the M Developer Preview site for downloads and documentation
  • Explore the new APIs and App Permissions changes
  • Explore the Android Design Support Library and Google Play Services APIs
  • Get the emulator system images through the SDK Manager or download the Nexus  device system images
  • Test your app with your supported Nexus device or emulator
  • Give us feedback

The Android M Developer Preview build download links aren’t live yet, although they should be available for download after the keynote finishes, just click the source link for them. You can follow the rest of our Google I/O 2015 coverage right here.

Source: Android Developers Blog

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Google Announces Android Pay, its replacement for Google Wallet

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

android_pay_partners_io15

One of the big things we’ve expected to hear about at Google I/O 2015 has been Android Pay, Google’s replacement for Google Wallet, that will provide a more robust competitor to Apple Pay. As you would hope, Android Pay will enable you to pay for goods and services in shops with your Android smartphone.

Android Pay AMEX

Android Pay is supported by Visa, Mastercard and American Express as you can see in the image above. When you are in the process of buying something on your Android device, instead of typing in every single payment detail, you will be able to just select ‘Buy with Android Pay‘ to complete the checkout. Google says that this will make the checkout process as quick as a tap.

You will also be able to use Android Pay at 700,000 of your favourite store locations, some of which can be seen in the image below. Android Pay will also soon be able to be used in over 1000 apps.

Official Android Blog  Pay your way with Android

Google has partnered with the following payment processors: Braintree, CyberSource, First Data, Stripe, Vantiv among others to further enhance integration of Android Pay. For security purposes, Google is committed to delivering industry standard security tokenization in conjunction with MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express. Your credit or debit card number stays safe on the phone, instead, a virtual account number is used to represent your Android pay account.

Google is also negotiating with banks to get Android Pay integrated with their own banking apps, making it easier to add your credit and debit cards for use with Android Pay.

Finally, if your device is stolen, and you are worried about the thief making use of your Android Pay account, all you have to do is access the Android Device Manager to lock your device from anywhere in the world, and if necessary, you can also wipe the device to make sure your money is safe.

Remember you can follow the rest of our Google I/O 2015 coverage right here. There’s lots more to come!

 

Source: Google

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Google has made the I/O 2015 codelabs globally available

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Google IO

The Google I/O 2015 keynote event may have just begun, but here we have one of the first announcements, thanks to the Google Developers Twitter account.

Google has made all the I/O 2015 codelabs app available to everyone, regardless of whether you are attending the event or not. In case you are wondering what codelabs are exactly, they are guided tutorials that offer a hands-on coding experience. So if you are just starting off as an Android developer, it’s a great way to learn how to build an application. The codelabs cover a variety of topics ranging from Android Wear, Project Tango, the Google Compute Engine to GoogleAPI’s on iOS. Just click the source link below to get started. Remember that you can follow the rest of our Google I/O coverage right here.

 

Source: IO2015codelabs

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Lenovo unveils its Smart Cast concept, a smartphone with a built-in laser projector

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Lenovo Smart Cast Smartphone (2)

If you’ve been hankering after a smartphone with a built-in projector, Lenovo may well have you covered. At its TechWorld conference in Beijing today, the Chinese company unveiled a smartphone concept that included a built-in laser projector that can turn any flat surface into a keyboard that you can type on.

Lenovo Smart Cast Smartphone (5)

The Lenovo Smart Cast has a couple of other neat tricks up its sleeve, the first one being the ability to play a virtual musical keyboard, where you can create music in real-time with no discernible lag. You can even project the image of your favourite game on to a surface and control the game by swiping on the projected image. The smartphone recognises your gestures and converts them into commands.

Lenovo Smart Cast Smartphone (11)

The second nifty feature is that by rotating the projector and laying it flat on a table, for example, you can display your media content onto a nearby wall.

Naturally, being a concept, it’s unclear whether Lenovo will ever put the Smart Cast smartphone into production, but it is a sign that the Chinese company is attempting to think outside of the box in terms of smartphone development, much like it does with its range of laptops.

We have some a video and some more pictures for you to look at below and don’t forget you can follow our Google I/O 2015 coverage right here.

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Lenovo Smart Cast Smartphone (9)
Lenovo Smart Cast Smartphone (6)
Lenovo Smart Cast Smartphone (4)

Source: Lenovo
Via: Pocket-Lint

 

 

 

 

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Java basics: a tutorial for beginners

Posted by wicked May - 28 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Update, May 28: Added video.

Original post, April 17: If you have ever wanted to write your own Android app, for fun or for profit, you are probably going to need to do some programming. There are lots of different ways to write Android programs but the official language of Android is Java. If you don’t want to try your hand at Java, then I would recommend you read my article: I want to develop Android Apps – What languages should I learn?

Not only is Java the official programming language for app development, Java itself is used by Google for large parts of the Android internals. There are two distinct parts to writing an Android app. One is the Java programming language itself, the other is understanding how to create an app in terms of its user interface, the Android OS, and the Android Software Development Kit (SDK). In this tutorial we will deal with the first of these, the Java programming language.

java-tutorial-for-beginners-koding1

To start writing Java programs you need a way to compile source code and turn it into an executable for the Java runtime.

Java was first released in the mid-1990s by Sun Microsystems. It was designed to be easy to learn by programmers who already knew C and C++. During 2006 and 2007 Sun released Java as free and open-source software, under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). Sun was bought by Oracle in 2009/2010, and Oracle remains committed to Java.

To start writing Java programs you need a way to compile source code and turn it into an executable for the Java runtime. The normal way to do this is to install the Java Development Kit. At the time of writing the current version of Java is Java 8, however it is relatively new, so Android uses Java 7. If you are unsure about installing the JDK then read this How to Install the Java Software Development Kit tutorial. Oracle also provides a JDK 7 Installation Guide.

However, if you aren’t quite ready to install the JDK, and you want a quick route to trying your first Java program, then I recommend Koding.com. Koding gives you access to a free virtual machine with all the compilers and tools you need to compile and run Java programs as well as develop in other languages like Go, Python, Node, and C. To sign up just visit Koding.com, type in your email address and a password of your choice, and then click “Sign Up”.

The virtual machine (VM) comes with an IDE and command line access. The web view of the virtual machine is divided into four. On the very left if the Koding control panel with access to your account details, the virtual machines you have created and so on. Next to it is a file manager which shows all the files and folders you have on your VM. Next to that the screen is split into two. The top half is an editor, for writing your code; and the bottom half gives you command line access.

From here in I will assume you are using Koding. However, for those who have installed the JDK the process is almost identical except that you will need to use a text editor on your PC rather than the editor inside the Koding IDE.

Cut and paste the following code into the editor:

public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, World");
    }
}

And save it as HelloWorld.java. In Java the filename of the source code and the class name must be the same. The first line of the code declares a class called HelloWorld, so this source code must be saved in HelloWorld.java.

In Koding to save the file, hover the mouse over the tab for the code (probably called Untitled.txt) and click on the little arrow. Then click “Save As…”, enter HellowWorld.java as the file name and click “Save”.

At the bottom part of the screen is the command line. The virtual machine is running Linux and the terminal is running Bash. If you are unfamiliar with using the Linux command line, try this tutorial: Linux Tutorial for Beginners, especially Tutorial One and Two. So, to compile your first Java program just type:

javac HelloWorld.java

The compile should only take a second or two. Then to run the program type:

java HelloWorld

Your reward is the text “Hello, World” being displayed in the terminal. Congratulations!

java-tutorial-for-beginners-koding2

What did I just do?

So let’s take a moment to look at what just happened. First the source code. The file does three things. 1) It declares a class called HelloWorld. 2) It defines a method (a function) in the HelloWorld class called main. 3) The main() method calls System.out.println to output some text.

In Java, and in all object orientated programming languages, a class defines an object. An object is a self contained item that interacts with other objects. In Android such object would include elements in the UI, a network connection, some location data, and so on.

Each Java program must define a method called main in at least one class. It is the entry point, where the program starts executing. In the simple example above the main() method has just one line of code, a call to System.out.println to output “Hello, World”. println() is a method that belongs to the PrintStream class and is included as part of the System class. Oracle has lots of information about the System class and the PrintStream class.

To compile and run the program you first called javac and then java. The first is the Java compiler, hence the letter ‘c’ at the end, and the second is the Java virtual machine. Java is architecture-independent which means that a .java file isn’t compiled for a specific processor on a specific OS, like Windows on an Intel x86 chip, or Android on an ARM Cortex-A processor, but rather it is turned into Java bytecode. The job of the Java virtual machine is to run that bytecode on the specific platform.

Variables

When writing computer programs you will need to store some data for temporary use. For example in an Android game you will want to store the score of the current player. These bits of data are stored in variables – a box in which you can put some data and then come back later a retrieve it. Since data comes in different forms a variable needs to be defined with a type, which tells Java what is being stored. Some of Java’s primitive data types include int (for integer), double (for double precision floating point number), and boolean (for a true/false value).

Here is a simple program which sets the value of a variable, prints out the value to the console, changes the variable and then prints it out again:

public class VariableTest {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        int i = 1;

        System.out.println("The value of i is: " + i);
        i = i + 24;
        System.out.println("The value of i is now: " + i);
    }
}

Save the file as “VariableTest.java”. To compile it type: javac VariableTest.java, and to run it use: java VariableTest. The output of the program will be:

The value of i is: 1
The value of i is now: 25

As you can see the program defines a variable called “i” and gives it an initial value of 1. The value of “i” is printed to the console. Then i is set to the new value of i + 24, or 1 + 24, which is 25. The new value is then printed out.

Try modifying the program to use a “double” rather than an “int”. Set “i” to something like 1.3 and increase its value by another decimal number like 24.9.

If you take a look at the println() method you will see an integer being added to a string: “The value of i is: ” + i. What actually happens here is that Java knows that the first part of the expression is a string, so it generates the string value for i, in this case “1” and then concatenates it to the string giving: “The value of i is: 1″.

Strings

Strings are an important part of any programming language including Java. Unlike int or boolean, a string isn’t a primitive type it is a class. When you create a string variable you are really creating a String object (notice the capital letter S). As an object it has certain properties like its value (the string itself) and its length. Strings can be manipulated in lots of different ways, including being dissected, concatenated, compared, and searched.

Here is an example program that performs a few simple operations on a String:

public class PlayingWithStrings {
    public static void main(String[] args) {

        String hello = "Hello, World";
        System.out.println(hello);

        // Add an ! to the end
        hello = hello + "!";
        System.out.println(hello);

        // Extract the word "Hello" from the String
        // i.e. starting at the beginning (0) for 5 characters
        String justHello = hello.substring(0,5);
        System.out.println(justHello);

        // Add some trailing spaces and then remove them with trim()
        hello = hello + "     ";
        hello = hello.trim();

        // Now output the string all in UPPERCASE and lowercase
        System.out.println(hello.toUpperCase());
        System.out.println(hello.toLowerCase());
    }
}

Save it as PlayingWithStrings.java. Compile it and run it using javac and java as shown previously.

This is a special method called a constructor. The constructor is called only once, at the moment that the object is created.

The first part of the program creates a String object called “hello” and gives it a value of “Hello, World”. Although this make look similar to how you declare and assign an integer or another primitive type, actually there is a lot more going on here. Java allows simple operators like = and + to be assigned simple tasks. So really String hello = “Hello, World”; is actually some like String hello = new String(“Hello, World”);, in other words, create a new object of type String and pass in the value “Hello, World” to the constructor. But we will talk more about that in the Objects section below.

The next part shows how you can concatenate strings, in this case an exclamation point is added to the end of the string. Since String is an object it can have methods. String.substring() is a method which returns part of a string. In this case the first 5 characters. String.trim() is another method which removes leading and trailing spaces. The last part of the program demonstrates the String.toUpperCase() and String.toLowerCase() methods.

The output from the program will be:

Hello, World
Hello, World!
Hello
HELLO, WORLD!
hello, world!

You can find out more about the String object in Oracle’s String tutorial and from the Java String documentation.

Loops

If there is one thing a computer is good at, it is doing repetitive tasks. To perform a repetitive task in a programming language you use a construct called a loop – something that loops around again and again.

Java has three types of simple loop: the for loop, the while loop, and the do while loop. Each loop type follows the same basic idea, you need to repeat something over and over again until a certain condition is met.

Here is an example which shows how to print out the numbers 1 to 10, 11 to 20, and 21 to 30, using the three different types of loop:

public class Loops {
    public static void main(String[] args) {

        // For loop
        for(int i=1; i<=10; i++) {
            System.out.println("i is: " + i);
        }

        // While Loop
        int j = 11;
        while(j<=20) {
            System.out.println("j is: " + j);
            j++;
        }

        // Do While Loop
        int x = 21;
        do {
            System.out.println("x is: " + x);
            x++;
        } while (x <=30);
    }
}

Create a file called Loops.java with the code from above, then compile it and run as shown previously.

java-tutorial-for-beginners-koding3

The for loop as three parts. First the initialization (int i=1), which is executed only once. In the example above the initialization is used to declare an integer i and set its value to 1. Then comes the test expression (i<=10). This expression will be tested every time the loop executes. If the result of the test is true then the loop will go around again. In this example the test is to check that i is still less than or equal to 10. After each iteration the third section, the iterator, will be executed. In this example it increases the value of i by one. Note that i = i + 1 is the same as i++.

The while loop is similar to the for loop, except it doesn’t contain the initialization phase and the iterator phase. That means that the initialization needs to be done separately, hence the declaration int j = 11;. The iterator also needs to be coded separately. In our example it is the line j++ which is found inside the loop after the println().

A do… while loop is very similar to a while loop with one big difference, the test to see if the loop should continue is at the end of the loop and not at the start. This means that a do… while is guaranteed to execute at least once, but a while loop doesn’t even need to execute at all, if the conditions aren’t met on the entrance into the loop.

Like the while loop, the initialization needs to happen outside the loop, in this case: int x = 21; and the iterator occurs inside the loop: x++. When x goes over 30 the loop will stop.

Objects

As I mentioned before, Java is what is known as an object-orientated (OO) programming language and to really succeed in Java programming and Android programming it is important to understand OO concepts.

At its simplest level an object is a set of methods (functions) that work on a data set. The data and the methods belong to the object, and work for the object.

Here is the source code for a very simple program which creates a counter object:

public class Counter {

    int count;

    public Counter() {
        count = 0;
    }

    public void Increment() {
        count++;
    }

    public int GetCount() {
        return count;
    }

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        Counter myCounter = new Counter();

        System.out.println("mycounter is " + myCounter.GetCount());
        myCounter.Increment();
        System.out.println("mycounter is " + myCounter.GetCount());
    }
}

The Counter object has one piece of data, the integer variable count and three methods (other than main): Counter(), Increment(), and GetCount(). Leaving the first method for the moment, you can see that Increment() and GetCount() are very simple. The first adds one to the internal variable count and the second returns the value of count.

Until now all the methods we have declared started with public void but if you notice the GetCount() method starts with public int. We will talk more about public in a moment, but the difference between void and int is this: void declares that the method doesn’t return anything, there will be no result coming back out of the method. But int tells us that the method will return a number, specifically an integer. You can actually create methods that will return all kinds of data, including objects.

Notice that the first method has the same name as the class itself, i.e. Counter(), and it doesn’t have a return type (not even void). This is a special method called a constructor. The constructor is called only once, at the moment that the object is created. It is used to initialize the object with default values and perform any other necessary initialization tasks. In this example it just sets count to zero.

Inheritance

The great thing about classes is that you can create a general class for an abstract idea and then create specific classes which are derived from the original class. For example, you can create a class called Animal and then derive a new class from it for a specific animal, say an Elk.

Here is an example, I will expand on what is happening here in a moment… You are going to need to create two files for this example, Animal.java and Elk.java. Here is Animal.java:

public class Animal {
    int NumberOfLegs;

    public Animal(int n) {
        NumberOfLegs = n;
    }

    public int GetNumLegs() {
        return NumberOfLegs;
    }
}

And here is Elk.java:

public class Elk extends Animal {
    int lengthOfAntlers;

    public Elk(int l) {
        super(4);
        lengthOfAntlers = l;
    }

    public int GetAntlerLength() {
        return lengthOfAntlers;
    }

     public static void main(String[] args) {
        Elk myElk = new Elk(30);

        System.out.println("Antler: " + myElk.GetAntlerLength());
        System.out.println("Legs: " + myElk.GetNumLegs());
     }
}

To compile the program just type:

javac Elk.java

The Animal class is what is known as a super class, while the derived class Elk is known as a sub-class, because hierarchically it is below the Animal class. When a class is extended (i.e. you create a sub-class) the new class takes on the data and methods of the super class. That is why the program is able to call myElk.GetNumLegs() even though it is part of the Animal class. The new Elk class has two variables: NumberOfLegs and lengthOfAntlers. It also has two methods: GetAntlerLength and GetNumLegs. If we created another sub-class, say Sheep, it would inherit the NumberOfLegs variable and the GetNumLegs method.

When designing objects you will discover that you want some methods to be exposed to the rest of the program, so that they can be called. But other methods you might want to keep private, so that only the object itself has access to it. This is where that word public comes into play. We have been declaring everything as public which means the method can be called from anywhere else in the code. However you can declare methods as private or protected, which will limit the access to those methods. The same access rules can also be applied to the object’s variables. A deeper discussion is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but if you would like some more information then you should read Controlling Access to Members of a Class and Declaring Member Variables from Oracle’s Java documentation.

One other thing worth mentioning is how the constructors work. The Elk() constructor initializes the lengthOfAntlers variable, in this case to 30, the number passed in when the object was created. But before that, it calls the constructor of the super class (i.e. Animal() ) using the special Java notation super.

There is a lot more that can be said about object-orientated programming (OOP), but this should be enough to give you a taste and get you started.

Wrap up

There are lots of online tutorials for learning more about Java. Here are a few from Oracle:

  • Getting Started — An introduction to Java technology and lessons on installing Java development software and using it to create a simple program.
  • Learning the Java Language — Lessons describing the essential concepts and features of the Java Programming Language.
  • Essential Java Classes — Lessons on exceptions, basic input/output, concurrency, regular expressions, and the platform environment.

You might also want to look at the following tutorials:

For those of you who would like an eBook or a printed book on Java programming then you might want to consider the following:

Also, good books on Android programming include:

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Xiaomi’s Mi Band fitness bracelet is now compatible with Google Fit

Posted by wicked May - 27 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

xiaomi_miband_04

If you own a Mi Band fitness bracelet, Xiaomi has just pushed out an update to its Android app, bringing new functionality to the $15 device. Now you can link the Mi Band to your Google account, allowing it to share your fitness stats with Google Fit.

You can get hold of a Mi Band fitness bracelet via Xiaomi’s Mi Store, which has recently expanded to include the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The tracker is IP67 certified, and Xiaomi boasts a 30-day battery life for the device. The battery life is no doubt helped by the fact that the Mi Band communicates via three LED lights rather than having a display like the Android Wear watches.

Besides the added Google Fit compatibility, the update also fixes some bugs and brings an improved UI. You can download the Mi Fit app from the Google Play Store below. If you were holding off from purchasing a Mi Band fitness bracelet because it wasn’t compatible with Google Fit, there’s nothing stopping you now.

 

qr code

Google Play Store Get it Here

 

Source: AndroidCentral

 

 

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Google Play Store updated to version 5.6.6, brings minor changes [APK Download]

Posted by wicked May - 27 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

Play Store dialog boxes

It’s the day before Google I/O 2015 begins, and the Play Store app is the recipient of a minor update, bumping it to version 5.6.6. There are some layout changes as well as some groundwork laid for the rumoured Kids Accounts that is rumoured to be announced in the next day or two.

The changes in layout involve standardising the alert dialog boxes. According to Googler Kirill Grouchnikov, ” it was also time to switch to consistent layout alignment and order of buttons everywhere in the app“. If you take a look at the main image, the older layout is on the left, with the latest layout on the right. It’s a subtle change but noticeable.

As for the rumoured Kids Accounts, Android Police’s teardown of the Play Store app revealed strings of code that show how download limits will be enforced for kids, with searches limited to age-appropriate material. It would also appear that authorisation will be needed every time a purchase is made, this includes IAP’s (In-App-Purchases).

You can download Pay Store version 5.6.6 here if the update hasn’t reached you yet. You can check out the rest of our Google I/O 2015 coverage here.

 

Source: AndroidPolice

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Google rumoured to be concentrating on Battery Life and RAM optimisations in Android M

Posted by wicked May - 26 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

Google IO

It isn’t long to go until its May 28th, the opening day of Google I/O 2015, and that means that we are getting closer to finding out what Android M will bring, and the surprises Google has in store for us.

Until then though, we have a new rumour to consider  courtesy of AndroidPolice, who have heard that Google will (once again) be focusing on battery life and RAM usage in Android M (or Macadamia Nut Cookie or MNC). This is hardly a new focus, as Google has previously attempted to tackle battery life issues with Project Volta in the Android 5.0 Lollipop edition. Still, no one will ever say no to getting more efficient use of their smartphones battery life.

Google has apparently told its teams to concentrate on reducing location check-ins, cutting off-charger activities and optimising RAM usage. Google’s own Play Services app often heads the list of guilty parties when it comes to battery usage, so hopefully it will receive a check-up along the way as well.

The other part of the rumour is that Google plan to release a developer build of Android M, just like they did with Lollipop before it. Android M is alleged scheduled for a final release sometime in August. This date should be taken as a provisional date, rather than being set in stone due to possible delays in developing this latest version of Android.

 

Source: AndroidPolice

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