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Phil Oakley
Living for Jesus Christ, my Saviour. Freelance writer. Motorsport nerd.
Living for Jesus Christ, my Saviour. Freelance writer. Motorsport nerd.

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Want an example of a bad app for Android? Look no further:

Custom elements. No recognition to tell if you've tapped something. No visual hierarchy. Full screen ads with no obvious way to clear them. Gingerbread-era system elements.

And to top it off, the developer has paid for the 5* reviews on Google Play.

+Juhani Lehtimäki

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Seems like Google are splitting off Docs, Sheets and Slides into their own products, and Drive is the central repository for everything.

I really hope Google separate out G+ Photos and make Photos a Drive product.

cc +Android Police
New Google Docs!
check out the new Material Design look and feel

Just popped on and got the neat tutorial introducing me to the new look!  Take a look.
6 Photos - View album

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I was interviewed by Slashdot at Google I/O, covering Dart, Chrome Dev Editor, Polymer, and more. Here's a quick seven minute overview of the open source nature of Dart, what Chrome Dev Editor is, and why Polymer is so important.

+Joe Marini Joe, has anything changed in regards to CSP in Chrome 37? Building a Chrome App with Polymer; getting CSP errors in Chrome 37 but not in Chrome 35.

Chrome: the future?

Developers have been slow on the uptake of Chrome Apps, there's no denying it. There aren't a lot in the Chrome Web Store at the moment, and there are even less good ones. Apps like TweetDeck, JSTorrent, Sunrise Calendar and Pixlr Touch Up and the best among a small selection. Then you've got Google Apps - Play Music (written in Native Client, which means it doesn't work on ARM yet), Google Keep and Google+ Photos.

However, with the announcement/release of Material Design at Google I/O this week, we could be about to see a lot more Chrome Apps hitting the Web Store. Let's explore what this could mean for Android, the web and Chrome itself.

Material design

Let's take a step back for a minute. What is Material Design?

Material Design is Google's new design language for Chrome and Android apps. With the release of Android L later this year, both platforms will start looking very similar. Material Design's elements look and work the same in Android as they do in Chrome, even though their architechture's are completely different - Android is written in Java and XML, while Chrome is in HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

This is a huge thing for Chrome Apps. Having a consistent design language for the apps will give the platform some much needed weight and consistency, which until now it has not had. In many ways, it's felt a bit like the early days of Android, before it had the design guidelines that were introduced alongside Ice Cream Sandwich. This all stemmed from the fact the web has never had any design guidelines - it should never have any - but for a web app platform, design guidelines are needed.

Android and Chrome Apps

Let's face it - building an app for Chrome is easier than building an app for Android. All you need to build a Chrome App is a laptop (or Chromebook), text editor and chrome itself. Whereas for Android development, you need knowledge of Java, a traditionally difficult language, an IDE like IntelliJ, Android Studio or Eclipse, and a device to test on. 

Chrome Apps have been coming to Android (and iOS) for a while now. I've been waiting with pained anxiety for the day whehn Google announces all Chrome Apps will move to the Play Store, leaving the Web Store for Extensions, Themes and Links. I'm 100% sure it's going to happen, I just don't know when.
However, as of a few days ago, we can build an app for Chrome and test it on Android as well, with the developer preview release of the Chrome Dev Editor. This Editor, essentially a fancy text editor, is specifically designed for building, testing, and publishing Chrome Apps. I've been building a Chrome App with a friend for a few days, and I can confirm it's fantastic. Easy-to-use, simple - it's perfect for building Chrome Apps. Admittedly I've noticed it needs some more features - I'd love to see the app you're building update in real-time, the same as DevTools does when building a website. Split-screen text view, a la Sublime Text, would also be incredibly handy, when working on HTML, CSS and JavaScript files.

However, the big thing of this Editor is the release of the 'deploy to mobile' function. Essentially, if you have the companion app installed on your Android phone, you can test the app you're running on your phone as well as your computer.

What does this mean? The implications could be huge. We could see a developer building a Chrome App, building it for desktop and phone at the same time. That, therefore, means we could see a lot more Chrome Apps hitting both Android and Chrome, and hopefully they'll all be using Material Design.

What's not clear is how tablet's come into this. The implication is that the apps should be responsive, so if I resize an app on my Chromebook it stretches and changes based on the size.

This is what Andy Rubin meant a few years ago when he said we didn't need tablet apps. He's right - an app should not have a phone version and a tablet version. It's the wrong approach. It should be one app which changes based on screen size and resolution.

So what does this mean in the long-term?

Hard to say. But my bet would be - and this is radical - that Google are slowly, slowly making Chrome its primary platform, and not Android. This will take years; it won't happen overnight, but everything points towards it. Google likes a quick update schedule - Play Services now updates on a 6 week schedule, same as with Chrome Stable. Users should never know it's updated. To be fair, users will probably realise a difference when L rolls out fully in the Fall, but I think it'll be neglible.

The problem is that very fw users actually see Google's version of Android - they see the OEMs versions - so Samsung, HTC etc. This is another reason for Material Design and for Chrome taking Android's place - Google controls Chrome 100%, but it is an open platform; indirectly open-source. Google have been taking this approach with Android too - the entire Play Suite and the 'Google Experience' apps are all closed source, but the platform itself is open source. I like approach. It ensures Google have control but means tinkerers, third-party developers and OEMs can still contribute back to the platform.

In Chromium's code logs, others have found references to a 'Project Athena', which is purportedly Chrome OS's new display server to replace Ash. This display server is built for touch, as well as use on laptops, meaning we could see a Chrome OS tablet in the future, and maybe even a phone. Some Chromebooks already have touchscreens, but they're not really used all that much.

Chrome and Android apps

Lastly, right at the end of the I/O keynote, when most were flagging, Sundar Pichai left the biggest announcement until last - that Android apps will come to Chrome soon. He said 'it's still early days' but showed a number of apps, including Flipboard, Evernote and vine, off to the audience. 
I'm not sure how this works, but my suspicion is these are Android apps repackaged as a Chrome App and using NaCl. Or possibly it's a whole new thing not using NaCl, maybe involving ART, Android's new AOT runtime.

I'm hoping these apps won't just be ported from Android with no changes. Rather, I'm hoping the developers tweak them for laptop use - like using arrow keys to flip between pages in Flipboard, for example.

Mirroring an app from Chrome to Android would also be an incredibly cool feature, as would mirroring an app from Android to Chrome.


The next year or so will be very interesting. Google's whole platform is undergoing a massive change; probably the biggest ever change. How both Google and third-party developers handle it will be very interesting to watch.

I'm hoping to post a lot more on Google+ about Chrome, Android and Apps. Watch this space!

Is there a problem downloading the new Play Music Chrome App (for the mini player) on ARM Chromebooks? I can't download on my HP Chromebook 11 (dev channel) - just get 'Failed - no file' error.

Anyone else, especially on an ARM Chromebook, having issues?

Anyone in the UK received their 'Give a Chromebook' Chromebook yet? What courier is it shipped by? I know it's FedEx in the US.

Happy birthday, +Lucien Antoine Quentin Pannatier! Have a great day :)

Hey guys. Getting a friend's international HTC One X on CyanogenMod 10.1 today. All has gone well, except one issue: the phone keeps powering down when it's sleeping, or freezing when I'm using it. Does both when charging, via AC adapter or PC, or when discharging.

Anyone know anything about this issue? I flashed the boot.img after flashing the ROM; the ROM is CM10.1.2 stable for the endeavoru. HBOOT version is 1.12.0000, and the radio is 2.1204.135.20.

Any help appreciated!
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