Phandroid » Developers Android Phone News, Rumors, Reviews, Apps, Forums & More! Sun, 29 Mar 2015 00:08:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Devs: here’s how you can use Google’s new Places API for Android (and iOS) Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:48:52 +0000

Just as Google alluded to when they announced the most recent version of Google Play Services, the Places API is now officially available for developers to tap into. Here’s a quick list of everything it will allow developers to do:

  • Add a place picker: a drop-in UI widget that allows your users to specify a place
  • Get the place where the user is right now
  • Show detailed place information, including the place’s name, address, phone number, and website
  • Use autocomplete to save your users time and frustration typing out place names, by automatically completing them as they type
  • Make your app stand out by adding new places that are relevant to your users and seeing the places appear in Google’s Places database
  • Improve the map around you by reporting the presence of a device at a particular place.

Sounds like some very rich functionality that should enhance any location-infused app. Documentation right here will get you started, and there are also code examples available here if that’s more your thing. Go forth and make it painless to use GPS and Places in your Android app!


[via Google]

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Google Play might soon disclose whether an app shares your data with third-parties Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:07:35 +0000 google-play-ballons-featured-LARGE

Yesterday, Google announced that they’d started employing a new app review process to help keep the spoiled apps out of Google Play. They’d also started issuing a questionnaire for developers to fill out about any and every app they have on Google Play.


The purpose of this questionnaire is for Google to be able to determine what sort of age-restricted rating to issue it in each region the app is available (which is mostly necessary to make sure regulatory bodies in a certain country won’t block access to your app).

You fill it out, and Google will spit back a rating appropriate for each major content ratings board that exists. You’ll see the ratings Phandroid’s app received in the screenshot straight ahead:


The questionnaire asks a few interesting questions of developers. Most of it pertains to the presence of violence, sexual content and general social interactions that could be inappropriate for youngsters, but a “miscellaneous” section in the questionnaire asks developers to disclose a couple of other interesting details:

  • Whether your app shares personal information with third-parties (with personal information being defined as your name, address, email address, phone number, date of birth, national insurance number, financial information and other private records)
  • Whether your app shares your location data with other users or third-party apps (for example, showing your location on a publicly-viewable map or being able to post your coordinates or a link to a map with your location on a social network, but not necessarily using your location within the confines of the app to enhance its functionality)


This raises a very interesting question: will this information eventually be listed in Google Play? Google doesn’t spell it out, but it sounds like they might eventually require this information to be transparent before a user even downloads the app in Google Play. Google has already long shown information about in-app purchases in an app’s Play Store listing ahead of downloading it, and that question also exists on the very same questionnaire.

So how would Google communicate the information to a user if they opt to show it? It’s likely any mentions of the presence of these elements would go in the same window that shows you what permissions the app has (such as whether it can access your contacts or use internet data) before downloading it to your phone or tablet.

Another point to consider is the factor of honesty: what’s stopping a developer from simply lying on the questionnaire? It’s easy to bust a developer who says their app doesn’t have any violence and then find out there’s a murder scene in the opening credits of a game, but what happens about stuff that isn’t visibly represented on the surface of the app?

While most top developers tend to be honest, open and upfront about how they use your data (you’ll often find that information in an app’s terms of use if you’ve ever bothered to read them), there’s always the chance that a devious coder — or someone who simply doesn’t know any better — could be manipulating and sharing your data behind the scenes.

Perhaps it’s something to be worked out by Google and their new review process, and perhaps it’s something their cerberus-like app scanning engine can already detect. There’s not enough information in the open to know for sure, but we aim to find out how Google plans to approach that issue and will certainly look to share any response we get.

In the meantime, be sure to take a look at a few screens from the questionnaire process above to get an idea of the sort of details developers have to disclose to make sure their apps are appropriately rated for global distribution.

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Google takes Apple’s cue and reviews Android apps before letting them into Google Play Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:50:27 +0000 Google Play Store wm watermark

Google today made a huge announcement regarding the way they handle app submissions in Google Play. To now, the company has been lax about letting developers upload applications and only looked to remove apps in hindsight if they were found to have violated Google Play’s developer policies.

But it seems Google’s tired of that approach — they’ve gone ahead and created a bit of a walled garden for Google Play not unlike the one Apple employs for their App Store (that is to say, they’re now reviewing apps before letting them into Google Play). Google says this move was made to better protect users and to ensure the quality of apps in Google Play remain top notch.

walled garden

Google said this process actually started a few months ago, and developers have yet to even notice. Their crack team of “experts” are able to review a large amount of apps in very quick succession so apps still appear in Google Play just mere hours after submission.

This sounds scary at first, we know. It’s a road we never thought Google would take, what with their emphasis on Android being “open” and “free.” But malware, hordes of apps that don’t work, and other toxic material in Google Play is counterproductive to the company’s goal of making Android even more fit for the mainstream than it already is. Example: what workplace is going to want to participate in Android for Work if their employees’ devices are exposed to potentially harmful apps?

Google hasn’t further detailed their review process, though they ensure us that the only thing they’re looking to do is make sure developers’ apps adhere to the developer policies outlined here. This isn’t going to be some Apple-like affair where they turn apps away for “duplicating functionality” or other nonsensical reasons.

To drive that point home, Google also mentioned that they will now be more upfront and clear about why your app may have been rejected or removed from Google Play. Furthermore, they’ve made it easier to resubmit apps for review after they’ve been rejected, so the fear of being exiled from Google Play forever should you make one tiny mistake should now evaporate.

No one is more thrilled to hear that than us, of course, as we’ve been the unfortunate recipients of Google Play banishment in the past.

developer code coding typing type keyboard

Our issue was never that our apps were removed in the first place. We’d eventually accepted and corrected our mistakes after having to comb through the developer policy ourselves and simply guess what we were doing wrong. It was Google’s lack of clarity as to why our apps were removed that drove us crazy, and that they didn’t make it easy to rectify the issue after identifying and fixing it didn’t help.

If what Google says is true, then we — and any other developer who has ever been in our shoes — should have a much easier time creating quality apps and uploading them to Google Play, even if it has to go through a very reasonable review period. And in the event that you do make an honest mistake and accidentally violate Google’s developer policies, it should be no sweat off your brow to get it fixed. This is great for developers and users alike, and it’s our hope that Google Play will become even stronger because of it.

PS: Google also detailed a new content rating system based on existing digital content guidelines established in each region. Developers will be asked to submit questionnaires about their apps and games, after which it will be given an age rating by an appropriate ratings board for each region the app is available in (ESRB in North America and PEGI in Europe, for instance).

The questionnaire isn’t required for existing apps right now, though Google notes that any apps without a rating may be blocked in certain countries where distributing unrated content is prohibited. The questionnaire will be required for all new apps and games uploaded to Google Play starting in May. Be sure to get your app situated by submitting questionnaires (available through the developer console) as soon as possible.

[via Google]

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Google’s latest reference app shows developers how to target different types of devices Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:12:50 +0000 music sample auto

Android is on a lot of different types of devices these days, and it might be confusing for even an experience developer to efficiently target all of them with a single app. Thankfully Google has come up with a great new code example to show you exactly how it’s done.

music sample watch

This example uses a standard music player app that has a full-fledged user interface on your phone or tablet, but simple pause, play, and skip features for those using the app through Android Auto, Android TV or on their Android Wear smart watch. The app itself is very basic, but the point isn’t to show you how to make the holy grail of music players.

Google has uploaded the source code to GitHub right here. Compile the app. Look into the code. See how it all works together. Become a more awesome developer because of it.

[via Google]

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Heads up, devs: Android 5.1 SDK is now rolling out Wed, 11 Mar 2015 13:32:54 +0000 Lollipop statue

With the announcement of Android 5.1’s rollout, we figured it wouldn’t be long before developers were hooked up with upgraded tools to make sure they’re equipped to target the latest version of the platform. The SDK for Android 5.1 is now available for download. It’ll be identified as API level 22.

There isn’t much new to be had for developers in this particular update, though there are a couple of important things to note. For starters, there are new APIs that make it easy for you to make sure your app behaves properly in the event that your app is being used on a dual-SIM phone.

It was especially important for Google to introduce dual-SIM support with the launch of Android One in developing countries so it should be equally important for you to make sure your app plays along nicely. Other changes in the SDK include the deprecation of HTTP classes in favor of the new URLConnection classes, and improved carrier provision tools. Be sure to get updated as soon as possible.

[via Google]

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Google Play Services 7.0 will make it possible to use your Android device as a game controller for Android TV Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:01:32 +0000 Google Play Services

Google has announced the rollout of Google Play Services 7.0 to give developers new tools to make even more awesome apps. Highlights of this update include the ability to use Google’s public Places API to easily support Places in your apps.

Other notable changes in today’s update include a more robust Google Fit API, improvements to the AdMob SDK, improvements to app indexing and more. The most exciting change of all today, though?

This version of Google Play Services will make it possible for folks to use their Android smartphones and tablets as game controllers for Android TV games. This is made possible by the Nearby Connections API that will let an Android devices and your Android TV set discover each other seamlessly and wirelessly.

This is a great solution for households who invite friends and family over to play games, but were only able to snap up one controller with whatever Android TV set they have. Here’s a quick video of it in action:

Not looking bad at all, Google. Developers can get their hands on all these tools within the coming days. In the meantime, put your thinking caps on and explore how you can make your apps better with these latest changes.

[via Google]

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Android 5.0 Lollipop is now on 3.3% of Android devices Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:58:47 +0000 android version numbers march 2nd

Google’s back with another platform update, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect considering many developers are converging at Mobile World Congress and the Game Developers Conference. The latest update shows us that Android 5.0 Lollipop is now loaded up on 3.3% of all Android phones with access to Google Play. This is a decent jump from the 1.6% Lollipop had when it first found its way onto the list last month.

That number may seem small, but considering the sheer amount of Android devices roaming about that’s a sizable portion of the user base. Jelly Bean is dying a slow death, but it’s still commanding a combined 42.6%, which is sadly a bit more than KitKat’s 40.9%. Ice Cream Sandwich is also still hanging in there at a respectable 5.9%.

Despite the world’s leading device manufacturers racing to get their devices upgraded to the newest versions of Android, the fast pace at which the operating system evolves means no one version will ever fade off soon enough. Take Gingerbread, for instance, which still has 6.9% of the pie.

The sad truth is that there are just as many — if not more — devices that will get left behind as there are devices that will get the latest versions of Android. The good part? Manufacturers are starting to take the idea of budget devices seriously and are releasing great low-cost options that come with the latest versions of Android. You might as well upgrade to a new smartphone if you’re one of the unlucky few who are stuck on archaic software.

[via Google]

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Cyanogen gets a new look, a new tone and a new business partner in Qualcomm Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:43:56 +0000 cyanogenmod new logo

It’s no secret Cyanogen could use a change of pace and scenery after the company’s public falling out with OnePlus One and the controversy that spawned of the Micromax deal in India. Cyanogen wants to turn the page from not only that, but from their core roots of security, customization and their open-source ideals.

The company wants to grow and evolve in a way that’s more inviting for, well, everyone. Their new logo, look and website — shots of which you can see above and below — supposedly embodies their new values, but to us it’s just a fresh (and pretty) coat of paint.

cyanogenmod new site logo

What we really care about is their new found commitment to users, openness (not just in the open-source way) and a “democratic” approach to building an operating system, community and ecosystem. It’s a natural step forward for a company which publicly wants to “take Android away from Google.”

That’s not to say they want Google to simply hand over the rights to the operating system — that’s an insane notion — but they want to create a platform for manufacturers, developers and users to use Android on their products without having to worry about the hijinks that often come along with it.

We’re referring to Google Play Services and the need to adhere by Google’s strict licensing terms in order to get the “best” Android experience. It’s their belief (and ours, too) that the “best” Android experience shouldn’t have to be limited to those with enough resources and clout to gain access to Google’s apps and services. It’s that approach to building CyanogenMod that could help the company mature and reach new heights that we have yet to see from someone with their grassroots background.

cyanogenmod history

With all of this comes a new partnership with Qualcomm that will have the company’s ROM installed on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon reference design devices going forward. The partnership only covers reference designs from the Snapdragon 400 and Snapdragon 600 series to start, and there’s nothing that says the deal can’t expand to the top-line 800 series down the line.

In case you’re not aware, a reference device is a development device for manufacturers and developers to use for application and platform testing. They’re often tricked out with industry standard specs, but the cost of entry is typically higher than a similar device at retail and they don’t have the looks to be a viable everyday smartphone for most users.

They also don’t ship with a very exciting operating system, that being a barebones version of AOSP. This partnership will change that and give developers a platform just as exciting to use as the device they’re using it on.

We’re sure it’s Cyanogen’s hope that the partnership will inspire device manufacturers and developers to embrace CyanogenMod as not just a viable development environment, but also as a platform that they can potentially build their products with. Best of luck to them in achieving that goal.

[via Cyanogen]

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Don’t look now, but Sponsored Apps are coming to Google Play Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:32:45 +0000 google play sponsored apps gif

Google Play’s search results have long been clean of advertisements with Google looking to ranking algorithms, editor-curated lists and other standard practices to let the best apps naturally bubble to the top. But developers will soon be able to pay for their app to be featured above all the rest.

Google has announced Sponsored Apps for Google Play. It sounds just like you’d imagine: you search for, say, “recipe app,” and a “sponsored” app will be the first result before taking you to the rest of the pack. It’s just like the ads you see across Twitter, Facebook and Google Search itself.

Google says they’re doing this to help developers get their apps to more eyes, which would in turn help them make more money. Their 2014 payout of over $7 billion to app developers who run ads is used as incentive.

This isn’t open to anyone and everyone just yet. Google is working with a limited, select group of partners to trial the program in the early going. If all goes well we imagine it will be opened up to anyone willing to dish out the coin needed for prime advertising real estate.

There’s sure to be a good deal of backlash within the community about the move, but if Google wants to make Google Play a more viable platform for developers to make income then they have to start allowing developers to get the most eyes they can on their app. It’s hard to do that with millions of other apps to compete with, so this is sure to be the most lucrative and effective route to that goal.

[via Google]

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Google will reportedly introduce new Android Pay API at Google IO 2015 Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:59:21 +0000 Android Pay

Google Wallet’s road to a ubiquitous mobile payments solution has been a bumpy one. This was thanks in part to carriers trying to impede its progress with their own NFC-based mobile payments system called Softcard. After reports that Softcard was bleeding money, Google swooped in, announcing a partnership that will see Google Wallet coming pre-installed on all Android devices from here on out. Not a bad deal at all.

Echoing Google’s “2 of everything” approach to their products and services, Google is now reportedly gearing up to introduce a new payments API for developers called Android Pay. The new API will be built from the ground up and will allow developers to add a mobile payments option into their app. Users will only have to add their credit/debit card information and can pay for anything within the app with only a single tap. The API will also allow for tap-to-pay transactions in retail stores using Google’s Host Card Emulation (HCE).

According to sources, that doesn’t mean Google Wallet is going anywhere. Android Pay will also support Google Wallet which will continue to exist as a separate entity. This will allow users to link their Google Wallet accounts to any apps already using Android Pay. Likewise, users and companies looking to avoid Google Wallet entirely will finally have that option with Android Pay.

It’s still not clear exactly what Google plans on doing with existing Google Wallet APIs (which allow developers to add a “Buy with Google” button in their apps) but we’re sure to learn more during this year’s Google I/O 2015 in May.


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Don’t forget to sign up for IDEAA’s Big Android Meat and Greet in Washington DC April 4th Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:19:00 +0000 big android meet and greet dc

IDEAA today formally announced their history, their mission and their future. If you don’t know, IDEAA — which stands for International Developer Education and Advocacy Alliance — is a new organization formed by the folks behind the yearly Big Android BBQ that has taken place since 2010.

After the success and growth of those events, they wanted to expand their presence to reach all the goals and visions set forth by everyone involved.

“After the tremendous success of our events in 2014 we believed the best way to support developers and our strong partnerships was to transition to this new organization,” says Aaron Kasten, president of IDEAA. “IDEAA will give us a chance to expand our goals and continue to  provide unique quality events that are equal parts education, entertainment, and altruism.”

With this alliance comes the possibility of creating a wide range of events not tailored just to Android developers, but developers of all kinds. We’re not sure what, exactly, they have in mind for the entirety of 2015 and beyond, but we do know about their first event.

It starts April 4th of this year with the Big Android Meat and Greet over in Washington DC that we already told you about. That event features a free “Code Kitchen” that runs from mid-morning through mid-afternoon with free lunch served. The Code Kitchen is a networking opportunity and workshop for developers to get together and help each other understand Android more deeply.

Those who have an itch to party can drop an optional $75 to get on a cruise boat afterward and check out the Cherry Blossoms festival where you’ll see the sweet berries in full bloom. All of it is capped off with what’s sure to be an awesome fireworks show. Good old-fashioned Texas barbecue will be served before getting on the boat, of course, so you won’t have to worry about your stomach. Oh, and food and drink on an open bar is included with the price of your ticket, so go nuts.

It sounds like an awesome time and we can’t wait to hear more about what IDEAA has planned for the future. For now, if you want to attend the Big Android Meat & Greet in DC you’ll need to head to EventBrite and order your ticket (whether you’re going for the free portion or otherwise). Be sure to handle that and make sure you can make your way to Washington DC April 4th to partake in the festivities.

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Android developers beware: fake Google Play violation email is a scam looking to steal your password Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:22:38 +0000 hackers

Reports of phony Google Play emails being sent to Android developers as circulating around the web. We, at Phandroid, have also received one of these emails, little more than a phishing scam meant to steal developers’ console passwords. Ours says we have 7 days to respond to a Google Play Store violation (some devs are receiving 3-day emails) and comes from a “” address (with an extra “O”).

Google Play Violation phishing scam

Once the link in the email is clicked, developers are taken to a site that looks very similar to the normal Developer Console. We have to admit, the wording in the email doesn’t feature the usual grammatical errors and is seemingly urgent enough that some developers might panic and miss it. Needless to say, avoid clicking or signing into anything from that email, lest you’d like your developer account compromised.

UPDATE: Google issues official e-mail to developers warning them of this phishing attack.

We are aware that some Google Play developers have received policy warnings from a fake Google account. The subject lines of the fraudulent emails include variations of “3-Day Notification of Google Play Developer Term Violation.” If you received an email with this subject line, please mark it as phishing and proceed to delete it without clicking on any links contained within it. Find out more about recognizing phishing emails here:

If you use Gmail, please report all phishing attempts by following these instructions:

As a general reminder, you should only enter your Google account password on the official Google sign-in page: Also note that the official URL for the Google Play Developer Console is

If you believe your account has been compromised, please follow these instructions:

The Google Play Support Team

(c)2015 Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043

You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important information relating to your Google Play account.

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No coding experience? Learn to build Android games with this deal from Tue, 10 Feb 2015 20:52:47 +0000 android-game-developer-bundle

You’re a total newb with no experience in programming. You’ve always wanted to build an Android game but you have no idea where to start. Here’s a clue:, where you can gain access to the educational tools you need to build the next great Android game, and it won’t put you in debt.

Get the Android Game Developer Bundle for $49 at

$49 gets you access to seven online course geared toward developers of all skill levels, from those with little to no coding experience to development wizards. With hundreds of lectures and over 60 hours of content, you’ll have your work cut out for you.

Separately, the courses included in the Android Game Developer Bundle would set you back over $750, but who has that kind of cash? This small investment could pay huge dividends. Will you make the next Flappy Bird? Only one way to find out. Head over to and enroll in this special online educational offer now.

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Android 5.0 Lollipop update has finally reached enough devices to appear on Google’s developer stats Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:55:39 +0000 android version numbers feb 2nd

It wasn’t long ago that we were wondering how long it would take for Android 5.0 Lollipop to make its way to the Android version distribution chart. Google offers the chart to developers to see which versions of Android are most prominent to help target the right audience.

The chart doesn’t show versions with less than 0.1% of the pie, but Android 5.0 Lollipop has made a roaring comeback to take a whopping 1.6% in today’s update. This would mark the first time it has been seen on the list.

We reckon that has a lot to do with more Moto G units getting the upgrade recently, as well as Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8 devices starting to receive the upgrade through Europe and Asia. The Samsung Galaxy S5 in the United States has also started receiving the upgrade as of today.

Lollipop statue

1.6% of a small pie is nothing, but 1.6% of potentially billions of active Android handsets out there is no small number. Jelly Bean and KitKat will likely hold the crown for a while longer, but it’s nice to see Lollipop finally find its way onto the list. You can find the full numbers in the chart above, and developers who actually need this data can find other goodies — such as screen densities and resolutions — at the jump.

[via Android Developers]

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Android 5.0.2 factory images now available for the Nexus 7 LTE (2012 and 2013) Fri, 30 Jan 2015 22:39:48 +0000 Nexus 7 2013

It’s been a long time coming, but those of you with the cellular equipped Nexus 7 (both models) can expect Android 5.0.2 Lollipop to soon hit your devices. Earlier today, Google posted the system images and binaries for both the original Nexus 7 LTE , and the Nexus 7 2013 LTE as shown in the screen shot down below.

Nexus 7 2013 LTE Android 5.0.2 image

The Android 5.0.2 update (build LRX22G) is the same build number that already rolled out to the Nexus 10 and WiFi equipped Nexus 7 models. We’re not sure what took Google so long, but hopefully it gave them enough time to patch up all those bugs we’ve been hearing about. From here, you can either manually apply the update yourself (providing you have an unlocked bootloader and knowledge of ADB), or wait for the official rollout to commence.

Still no word on when Google plans on pushing out this update over-the-air, but it shouldn’t be much longer now. Those of you with the 4G LTE equipped Nexus 7 or Nexus 2013 can rest assured the update is, in fact, coming.

[Google Developers]

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