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Cody Toombs
Works at Android Police
Attended Oregon Institute of Technology
Lives in Roseburg, OR
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Cody Toombs

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Play Books v3.10 Tiny Teardown: Gifting Edumacasion

The idea of Play Store Gifting has been discussed on AP many, many times. The subject originally came up over five years ago [1], and has since been rolled out in very select forms for Play Music subs [2] and even Play Store credit [3]. We've even seen proof [4] that gifting was in development nearly a year ago, right alongside Family Library, which has since launched (and is far more complicated in both implementation and legal issues).

Now a pair of new lines in Play Books shows that another very niche form of gifting will be added. This is book gifting, exactly as we would want it, but it appears to be limited to just educational materials, at least based on the "edu" in the string names.

<string name="gifting_edu_text"> In the Play Books app, buy gifts from the context menu inside a book. In the Play store, tap the Gift icon on the page describing the book. </string>
<string name="gifting_edu_title"> Send books as gifts </string>

This concept isn't exactly new; it already appears to be supported through a special Google Play for Education [5] site, but that's certainly different from gifting straight through the Play Store.

If this feature launches on Play Books without any restrictions, this is likely good news and suggests gifting is still in the works for apps, movies, and other content. On the other hand, if the educational requirement actually turns out to be there, it's likely another niche option, and that almost certainly implies true gifting is still a long way from happening (because there would be no good reason to launch a niche form if the full form is reasonably close to launch).

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YouTube Gaming v1.6 Tiny Teardown: Who Cheats At Easter Eggs?

The latest update to YouTube Gaming looks decidedly lean on identifiable changes, so I'm feeling like it's probably just a bug fix release. There are signs that it may have made some improvements to the live chat interface for broadcasters, but seeing as I don't stream anything, I didn't really get to test it fully.

Even if there's not much to speak of for features, this is technically a new version, and as such, there's a new easter egg. Unlike most in the past, this one was spelled out very clearly for the teardown. I know there are quite a few completionists out there that want to hit all of them, but since this didn't really seem to justify a post on Android Police, I still wanted to share the secret somewhere so people wouldn't have to look too hard. So, from here on, I must post the warning:

If you prefer to look for the easter eggs in YouTube Gaming on your own, do not read any further!

The easter egg in this update isn't very elaborate, but it certainly works. Just search for the term 'Gauntlet' and pick any entry based on that title, including the 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1998, 2005, and 2014 releases. Tap on the fork & knife icon and you'll score a point for another easter egg discovered. You'll also see a randomly selected message appear as a toast with phrases familiar to any true Gauntlet fan, including:

- Elf needs food - badly!
- Valkyrie needs food - badly!
- Warrior needs food - badly!
- Wizard needs food - badly!
- Remember, don't shoot food!

That's it for this one. Good luck hunting for all of the easter eggs. I've found all of them, so if anybody really needs help, drop a line in the comments and I can put you on the right path..
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Gmail v6.7 Tiny Teardown: Drag 'n Drop It Like It's Hot

Today's update to Gmail didn't bring anything particularly exciting in features, but it shows they're working on something for Android 7.0 Nougat that I think we're all looking forward to: drag 'n drop file support in split-screen/multi-window.

<string name="drag_n_drop_target_text"> Drop files here </string>

Put simply, you'll be able to open Gmail in one side of the screen and a file manager in the other, and then drag files over and drop them into a message – no need to hit the attach button and worm your way through multiple steps.

Obviously, this requires other apps that know how to create draggable files, which are fairly rare at this point. I've tried a few apps that seem to create draggable entities (e.g. the built-in Downloads app and Google Drive), but Gmail isn't popping up this message or a spot for me to drag anything to, so I kinda doubt it's live yet. Still, once it launches, it should probably work about the same way as it does on the web.

It's not really a surprise that this is coming. Dragging files into Gmail on the web is practically second nature for most of us, so it's common sense that it will become a part of Android now that we'll be able to run apps side-by-side. Still, even if it's sorta obvious, it's good to see this is in the pipeline. Features like this have a tendency to show up in one version and be ready for use by the next, so it will probably be operational for the first official release of Nougat. I've also got a hunch the Inbox app won't be far behind.
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I wonder what it's like to be someone's "tear down guy"
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Somebody had to say it.
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That's so awesome
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Please stop unnecessary testing and staged rollouts
I have the same (latest) version of YouTube installed on 3 different devices, and none of them have the same list of settings. YouTube is doing this far too much. 😟

I totally understand the point of staged rollouts and A/B testing, both of which give different features and interfaces to a random set of users, but they should be used in moderation. Try to imagine talking to your parents on the phone and trying to explain how to change a setting or use some feature when you're both looking at different screens.

That's bad enough, but it's absolutely insane that a person might have to actually make a decision about which device to use for a specific task because one of them got a feature before another.

I see this stuff all the time because I do teardowns and compare different versions on multiple devices, but I've also seen this become an issue when people (including myself) have contacted Google to report issues. I'm used to talking with tech support people that aren't necessarily well-trained on every last detail, but there was an incident where I spoke with a person that thought I was making up details because he couldn't see the same things on his screen. This is a situation that should never, ever happen.

In case it's not obvious, I'll quickly explain the screenshots. The first one has only 5 options, all of which appear in the other screens. The second screen includes Autoplay. The third screen also has Autoplay, but also includes Buffering. And yes, I totally understand that these are pretty innocuous settings that aren't going to affect most people enough to be an issue, but I've seen other features in YouTube–like fast forward/rewind–that are much more confusing if one person has them and another doesn't.
Chet Gurevitch's profile photoDaniel “dictvm” Heitmann's profile photoCharles Sewell's profile photo
Yup. On the Nexus 6p I have the second screen but on Shield tablet I have the third. Why? I want the buffering in the background on my Nexus 6p.
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I'm not gonna lie, I want to see how Google Allo handles a sexting session.
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+Derek Ross You got it bb ;)
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This is really awesome. Not only is it a great mathematical and scientific explanation of optics, but #Nexus6P and #Nexus5X owners might get some neat insight into those cameras from a guy involved in their development.

Just a tip to anybody that wants the original videos, Marc Levoy shared them on his site through Google Drive and they've quickly hit their view limit. You can either watch them on YouTube, which he has faithfully linked on the site, or you can open the pages for each video, view source on the page, search for "mp4" to find the video embed, then look nearby for a link to Drive. Remove the word "preview" from the link and it'll open up in a way that you can work with it, or as I did, add it to your own Drive storage and view it from there.
A Stanford professor releasing his entire course for free. It sounds too good to be true, no? Fear not, for it has actually happened.
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Stop saying stupid things on the Internet, people will see you!
If you can't watch the linked video, either because this masterpiece requires Flash or because you had a foreboding vision of infinite regret that's bound to follow a single viewing, allow me to explain. The video actually opens with the phrase "worldwide storage formating conspiracy." Go ahead, let that sink in.

Even worse than saying that, she never explains what she means or how this is a conspiracy. Listen, you can't just throw that word around and then totally leave it hanging. There are people wearing tinfoil hats that need to know what you're going on about.

Pro Tip: If there's a worldwide conspiracy, that's a much bigger story than how to speed up a USB Drive. Though, I'm not sure that's true if all you care about is getting an extra share or two on Facebook.

Oh, and when a major story is broken by PC World (the origin of the video) or MacWorld (the jerks that auto-played the video on an unrelated post), especially with the gravitas of a worldwide conspiracy, please let me know. I will totally be waiting by the phone for that to happen. /s

Your USB drive isn't slow because you have too much stuff on it. It's slow because it uses a slow storage format like FAT32 or exFAT. You can re-format it to NTFS to get faster write times, but there is a catch.
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I just watched the video and I think the comment was a poor attempt at humor. 
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Play Music v6.12 Tiny Teardown: Leaning Over the Edge

It's rare to see Google's apps working with proprietary SDKs and platforms. A few apps in the past have supported Samsung's split-screen functionality on the Note series, and from time to time a couple of other oddball things have shown up, but Google is now working on support for another Samsung feature: the Edge screen. Yes, Play Music is going to get its own custom panel for Samsung Edge phones.

The evidence on this one is a little awkward because you have to know what certain things mean. But here are the significant signs:

1. A new permission has been added to the AndroidManifest.xml file: Notice the "samsung" part, which make the source perfectly obvious. This permission allows an app to ask the operating system about which Samsung services are available.

2. There's a new xml file named edge_now_playing.xml that defines the provider so Samsung's framework will know what to use. The "edge" part of the name makes it fairly obvious which phones this is meant for. Here's the only significant line inside the file:

<cocktail-provider label="@string/app_name" decription="@string/app_name" previewImage="@drawable/splash_play_music_144" updatePeriodMills="3600000" cocktailWidth="550" launchOnClick=""

The "cocktail-provider" part confirms this is meant for Samsung Edge devices. That's a keyword used in the Look SDK.

So, what is it going to do? It's basically a standard set of music player controls with a few extra bits relevant to Play Music. To begin with, there are two strings for starting music in the "I'm Feeling Lucky" randomizer:

<string name="edge_now_playing_loading_ifl_mix"> "Starting I'm Feeling Lucky Mix" </string>
<string name="edge_now_playing_loading_ifl_radio"> "Starting I'm Feeling Lucky Radio" </string>

And a layout named edge_now_playing.xml gives away the rest of the information and controls:

album art
track name
Prev/Next buttons
Thumbs up, skip backward, thumbs down, skip forward


I don't have an Edge device to test on, but I asked a couple of other people to try it out and they saw no sign that this was operational yet. I didn't see any sign of an included SDK during a very quick glance at the decompiled code, so I doubt it was built into this release. All the same, it's probably coming very soon.
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+Cody Toombs​ I sent you a message on Hangouts, but apparently it went into spam. Could you take a look at it?
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Play Store v6.8 Tiny Teardown: Preloaded Party

Today's update to the Play Store apk didn't bring much in the way of discernable features. We're getting ready to post about one thing shortly, but it's not version-dependent.

The teardown was pretty mundane too. A couple dozen strings about family sharing were updated, but they're not giving away anything that wasn't already known from one teardown after another on Android Police. Since sharing for apps and games is about to go live on July 2nd, this is obviously a bug fix update to get things ready for a wide rollout.

There was one amusing gem to run across. A few weeks ago, a couple of strings turned up in a teardown that suggested the Play Store would pre-load some data [1] to improve performance. The details were thin, but it's not a particularly hard concept to grasp. This version makes a slight change and adds a little bit more explanation. To begin with, the previous version called for a 20 MB cache, but this version bumps that up to 30 MB.

<string name="lite_mode_settings_description_info"> Preload up to 30 MB on your device, over Wi-Fi </string>

The other strings don't really add much to the conversation, but they do slightly focus on the point that this is about improving performance while on a data connection. Does that mean the cached data can't be used if you're browsing on Wi-Fi? I doubt it, but you never know.

<string name="lite_mode_welcome_card_description"> "Some information on the store is preloaded over Wi-Fi. This makes the store faster when you're on a data connection." </string>
<string name="lite_mode_welcome_card_title"> A faster store experience </string>

Anyway, that's it for right now. I've got a couple of other posts that I've been trying to get back to for a little while. I'll try to get those done before the weekend.

As most of our readers know, an update to the Play Store rolled out a couple of days ago with a feature many of us have been requesting for nearly three ye... by Cody Toombs in APK Teardown, Applications, News
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Google+ v8.1.0 Tiny Teardown: It's Like a Roomba For Comments

The latest G+ update [1] turned out to be mostly bug fixes and a bit of a behavioral tweak to the home stream [2], but there's also a clue for a new feature to look forward to in a future release. It looks like Google+ is going to add a handy little setting for Communities that will "hide" low quality comments.

<string name="low_quality_comments_available"> Low quality are hidden. They can be displayed from the menu. </string>
<string name="menu_hide_low_quality_comments"> Hide low quality comments </string>
<string name="menu_show_low_quality_comments"> Show low quality comments </string>

Precisely what that means and who can use it is still not totally spelled out, but there are some fairly safe assumptions. To begin with, "low quality" probably describes comments that have been flagged as abuse or spam, or they come from accounts that are commonly flagged.

The other notable detail is that this setting is accessible from a menu, but it's a menu that contains a lot of options for both moderators and regular users. I would think this is going to be for everybody since it's clearly meant to be quickly toggled, and it makes sense for any user to have quick access to hide junk comments.

That's about it for this one, but I've got a few things coming up soon.

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Char G
+Jeff McIntire 🤔👍
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I totally understand the glorified optimistic perspective that a reboot function shouldn’t be necessary in modern devices and therefore the button should be removed in anticipation of the day that rebooting isn’t necessary. But those people should totally understand my practical realist perspective that they’re trying to piss up a rope to stop a house fire.
This message brought to you by: a Nexus owner.
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Is it plugged in?
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Cody's Collections
Software Developer, Writer, and Opinionated Jerk
  • Android Police
    Editor, 2013 - present
    I make words happen, sometimes they even make sense. I'm responsible for the APK Teardowns and developer-related content.
  • Dashing Cat Productions
    Founder, 2012 - present
    App development for mobile and desktop platforms.
  • Pentacle Software
    Founder, 2006 - present
    Software development and design.
  • TravelWorm
    Senior Web Developer, 2005 - 2006
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Roseburg, OR
Las Vegas, NV - Klamath Falls, OR
A tech geek with flair.
I write for Android Police where I rip open apps to find interesting things to talk about. I also write software, some of it you've probably used. In past lives, I've sold computers, worked in wine, and slung booze (yes, real flair bartending <- that's not me, just an example). There are plenty of stories, I just don't tell 'em that easily.

I dig fashion, food, cocktails, movies, tv, and tech. I surround myself with good people, I learn everything I can. Give me a snowboard in the winter, a sand volleyball pit in the summer, and new adventures year round.
  • Oregon Institute of Technology
    Software Engineering, 1998 - 2002
Basic Information
March 29