Home for the holidays: tips from Google Home and Refinery29

Home for the holidays: tips from Google Home and Refinery29

Do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of wrapping last minute-gifts and packing suitcases for those who are heading home for the holidays. There’s no place quite like home during this joyous, hectic time of year, and our friends at Refinery29 are recording daily podcasts—available exclusively via the Assistant on Google Home—until Christmas to help you through the holiday festivities at home.

You’ll need a Google Home, Google Home Mini or Google Home Max to listen to the podcast version, but you can also check out written posts on Refinery29.com. Here are a few of our favorite topics so far:

  • Five pieces of advice for when a family dinner turns stressful
  • Everything’s better with cookies—grab a family member and try out some of these cookie recipes.
  • While the cookies are baking, gather everyone for a holiday movie (but we can’t help you with the inevitable fight over the best spot on the couch).
  • If you’re on the hook for gifts for family members, here are a few tips to help you save some cash.

Just say, “Hey Google, play Home for the Holidays by Refinery29” to tune in.

Improving app security and performance on Google Play for years to come

Improving app security and performance on Google Play for years to come

Posted by Edward Cunningham, Product Manager, Android

[Edit: Updated post on Dec 21 to clarify that when the
64-bit requirement is introduced in August 2019, 32-bit support is not going
away. Apps that include a 32-bit library just need to have a 64-bit version
too.]

Google Play powers billions of app installs and updates annually. We
relentlessly focus on security and performance to ensure everyone has a positive
experience discovering and installing apps and games they love. Today we’re
giving Android developers a heads-up about three changes designed to support
these goals, as well as explaining the reasons for each change, and how they
will help make Android devices even more secure and performant for the long
term.

  • In the second half of 2018, Play will require that new apps and app updates
    target a recent Android API level. This will be required for new apps in
    August 2018, and for updates to existing apps in
    November 2018. This is to ensure apps are built on the latest
    APIs optimized for security and performance.
  • In August 2019, Play will require that new apps and app
    updates with native libraries provide 64-bit versions in addition to their
    32-bit versions.
  • Additionally, in early 2018, Play will start adding a small amount of
    security metadata on top of each APK to further verify app authenticity. You do
    not need to take any action for this change.

We deeply appreciate our developer ecosystem, and so hope this long advance
notice is helpful in planning your app releases. We will continue to provide
reminders and share developer resources as key dates approach to help you
prepare.

Target API level requirement from late 2018

API behavior changes advance the security and privacy protections of Android –
helping developers secure their apps and protecting people from malware. Here
are a few such changes from recent platform versions:

  • Implicit intents for bindService() no longer supported (Android
    5.0
    )
  • Runtime permissions (Android
    6.0
    )
  • User-added CAs not trusted by default for secure connections (Android
    7.0
    )
  • Apps can’t access user accounts without explicit user approval (Android
    8.0
    )

Many of these changes only apply to apps that explicitly declare their support
for new API behaviors, through the targetSdkVersion
manifest attribute. For example, only apps with a targetSdkVersion of 23
(the API level of Android 6.0) or higher give the user full control over what
private data – such as contacts or location – the app can access via runtime
permissions. Similarly, recent releases include user experience improvements
that prevent apps from accidentally overusing resources like battery and memory;
background
execution limits
is a good example of this type of improvement.

In order to provide users with the best Android experience possible, the Google
Play Console will require that apps target a recent API level:

  • August 2018: New apps required to target API level 26
    (Android 8.0) or higher.
  • November 2018: Updates to existing apps required to target
    API level 26 or higher.
  • 2019 onwards: Each year the targetSdkVersion requirement
    will advance. Within one year following each Android dessert release, new apps
    and app updates will need to target the corresponding API level or
    higher.

Existing apps that are not receiving updates are unaffected. Developers remain
free to use a minSdkVersion
of their choice, so there is no change to your ability to build apps for older
Android versions. We encourage developers to provide backwards compatibility as
far as reasonably possible. Future Android versions will also restrict apps that
don’t target a recent API level and adversely impact performance or security. We
want to proactively reduce fragmentation in the app ecosystem and ensure apps
are secure and performant while providing developers with a long window and
plenty of notice in order to plan ahead.

This year we released Android Oreo, the most secure and best performing version
of Android yet, and we introduced Project
Treble
to help the latest releases reach devices faster. Get started
building apps that target Android 8.1 Oreo
today.

64-bit support requirement in 2019

Platform support for 64-bit architectures was introduced in Android 5.0. Today,
over 40% of Android devices coming online have 64-bit support, while still
maintaining 32-bit compatibility. For apps that use native libraries, 64-bit
code typically offers significantly better performance, with additional
registers and new instructions.

In anticipation of future Android devices that support 64-bit code only, the
Play Console will require that new apps and app updates with native libraries
provide 64-bit versions in addition to their 32-bit versions. This can be within
a single APK or as one of the multiple APKs published.

We are not removing 32-bit support. Google Play will continue to support 32-bit
apps and devices. Apps that do not include native code are unaffected.

This change will come into effect in August 2019. We’re providing advance notice
today to allow plenty of time for developers who don’t yet support 64-bit to
plan the transition. Stay tuned for a future post in which we’ll take an
in-depth look at the performance benefits of 64-bit native libraries on Android,
and check out the CPUs and
Architectures
guide of the NDK for more info.

Security metadata in early 2018

Next year we’ll begin adding a small amount of security metadata on top of each
APK to verify that it was officially distributed by Google Play. Often when you
buy a physical product, you’ll find an official label or a badge which signifies
the product’s authenticity. The metadata we’re adding to APKs is like a Play
badge of authenticity for your Android app.

No action is needed by developers or users. We’ll adjust Play’s maximum APK size
to take into account the small metadata addition, which is inserted into the APK Signing Block
and does not alter the functionality of your app. In addition to enhancing the
integrity of Play’s mobile app ecosystem, this metadata will enable new
distribution opportunities for developers in the future and help more people
keep their apps up to date.

Looking ahead

2017 has been a fantastic year for developers who have seen growth and success
on Google Play. We’ve been hard at work on features (including those announced
at I/O
2017
and at Playtime)
to help you improve your app quality and business performance. With these
features and the upcoming updates, we hope to see the Android and Play ecosystem
continue to thrive in 2018 and beyond.

How useful did you find this blogpost?

Why it’s time for enterprises to adopt Android’s modern device management APIs

Why it’s time for enterprises to adopt Android’s modern device management APIs

Enterprise devices regularly access mission-critical data and are a key conduit for company communications. To ensure that organizations can power their mobility efforts with great features and security, Android offers managed device and work profile modes for mobile management.

Many organizations, however, are still using the Device Administration API, which was made available for developers in Android 2.2. When it was first released in 2010, device admin API provided enterprises with a reliable support system for enterprise applications. Since then, the needs of businesses have grown to require more vigorous management and security requirements.

Managing personal and company-owned devices

In Android 5.0, we created managed device (device owner) and work profile (profile owner) modes, which match the security needs of organizations that manage mobile devices. These are feature-rich and secure ways to manage devices. Most organizations are now using these modes to manage mobile devices, and we’re encouraging all organizations to make the switch.

We understand that for some organizations this switch may take time so we will have developed an extended timeline for the transition. Device admin API will be supported through Android Oreo and existing functionality will continue to be available in the next major Android release, though device admin APIs for password enforcement will no longer be supported. In the following Android release, expected in 2019, the APIs for password enforcement will no longer be available. We strongly recommend that businesses plan to move to work profile and managed device APIs. By sharing this update early, we aim to provide companies with sufficient time to migrate existing devices or start fresh as new ones are added to their fleet.

Non-enterprise device management

Some of the device admin APIs are used for non-enterprise device management, like Find My Device, which enables locking and wiping a lost phone. APIs commonly used by these applications will not be affected. Please see the developer migration guide for details on the specific changes.

Making the transition to work profiles or managed devices

For those currently using device admin, there are two strategies available to move to Android’s management APIs. Both options require companies to have an EMM provider that supports either Android’s work profile or managed device mode.

For personal devices used by employees for work, we recommend using the work profile. Migration from a legacy device admin to the work profile can be done with minimal disruption. This can be handled either by enabling personal devices to install a work profile, or by having new devices enroll with a work profile as existing devices phase out of the fleet.

We recommend that company-owned devices be set up as managed devices. Migrating a device from device admin to managed device requires a factory reset, so we recommend a phased adoption, where new devices are enrolled as managed devices while existing devices are left on device admin. New users and new devices should be configured with the new management modes as they are enrolled. Then, older device admin devices can be aged out of the fleet through natural attrition. We recommend that you begin to enroll all new company-owned devices running the major Android release after Oreo as managed devices, in preparation for the removal in the release after that.

Major mobility transitions are typically a large and important undertaking but we know that the needs of companies will be better served with the modern capabilities of Android’s managed device and work profile modes. For specific implementation details, see our developer migration guide.

New Tools to Prevent Harassment

New Tools to Prevent Harassment

By Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety Today we are announcing new tools to prevent harassment on Facebook and in Messenger – part of our ongoing efforts to build a safe community. Based on feedback from people who use Facebook, as well as organizations representing groups who disproportionately experience harassment like women and journalists, we […]

Posted in Uncategorized
Managing Your Identity on Facebook with Face Recognition Technology

Managing Your Identity on Facebook with Face Recognition Technology

By Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Director, Applied Machine Learning Today we’re announcing new, optional tools to help people better manage their identity on Facebook using face recognition. Powered by the same technology we’ve used to suggest friends you may want to tag in photos or videos, these new features help you find photos that you’re not […]

Quick Boot & the Top Features in the Android Emulator

Quick Boot & the Top Features in the Android Emulator

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Today, we are excited to announce Quick Boot for the Android Emulator. With
Quick Boot, you can launch the Android Emulator in under 6 seconds. Quick Boot
works by snapshotting an emulator session so you can reload in seconds. Quick
Boot was first released with Android Studio 3.0 in the canary update channel and
we are excited to release the feature as a stable update today.

In addition to this new feature, we also wanted to highlight some of the top
features from recent releases. Since the complete revamp of the Android Emulator
two
years ago
, we continue to focus on improving speed, stability and adding a
rich set of features that accelerate your app development and testing. With all
the recent changes, it is definitely worth updating to the latest version of the
Android Emulator to use it today.

Top 5 Features

  • Quick Boot – Released as a stable feature today, Quick Boot
    allows you to resume your Android Emulator session in under 6 seconds. The first
    time you start an Android Virtual Device (AVD) with the Android Emulator, it
    must perform a cold boot (just like powering on a device), but subsequent starts
    are fast and the system is restored to the state at which you closed the
    emulator last (similar to waking a device). We accomplished this by completely
    re-engineering the legacy emulator snapshot architecture to work with virtual
    sensors and GPU acceleration. No additional setup is required because Quick Boot
    is enabled by default starting with Android Emulator v27.0.2.

Quick Boot in the Android Emulator

  • Android CTS Compatibility With each
    release of the Android SDK, we ensure that the Android Emulator is ready for
    your app development needs, from testing backwards compatibility with Android
    KitKat to integrating the latest APIs of the developer preview. To increase
    product quality and reliability of emulator system images, we now qualify final
    Android System Image builds from Android Nougat (API 24) and higher against the
    Android Compatibility Test
    Suite
    (CTS)—the same testing suite that official Android physical devices
    must pass.
  • Google Play Support We know that many
    app developers use Google Play Services, and it can be difficult to keep the
    service up to date in the Android Emulator system images. To solve this problem,
    we now offer versions of Android System Images that include the Play Store app.
    The Google Play images are available starting with Android Nougat (API 24). With
    these new emulator images, you can update Google Play Services via the Play
    Store app in your emulator just as you would on a physical Android device. Plus,
    you can now test end-to-end install, update, and purchase flows with the Google
    Play Store.
  • Performance Improvements Making the
    emulator fast and performant is an on-going goal for our team. We continuously
    look at the performance impact of running the emulator on your development
    machine, especially RAM usage. With the latest versions of the Android Emulator,
    we now allocate RAM on demand, instead of allocating and pinning the memory to
    the max RAM size defined in your AVD. We do this by tapping into the native
    hypervisors for Linux (KVM) and macOS® (Hypervisor.Framework), and an
    enhanced Intel® HAXM (v6.2.1 and higher) for Microsoft®
    Windows®, which uses the new on-demand memory allocation.
  • Additionally, over the last several releases, we have improved CPU and I/O
    performance while enhancing GPU performance, including OpenGL ES 3.0 support.
    Looking at a common task such as ADB push highlights the improvements in the
    Android CPU and I/O pipelines:

    ADB Push Speed Comparison with Android Emulator

    For GPU performance, we created a sample GPU emulation stress
    test app
    to gauge improvements over time. We found that the latest emulator
    can render higher frame rates than before, and it is one of the few emulators
    that can render OpenGL ES 3.0 accurately per the Android specification.

GPU Emulation Stress Test – Android App

GPU Emulation Stress Test with Android Emulator

More Features

In addition to these major features, there are a whole host of additional
features that we have added to the Android Emulator over the last year that you
may not be aware of:

  • Wi-Fi support – Starting with API 24 system images, you can
    create an AVD that both connects to a virtual cellular network and a virtual
    Wi-Fi Access Point.
  • Google Cast support – When using a Google Play system
    image, you can cast screen and audio content to Chromecast devices on the same
    Wi-Fi network.
  • Drag and drop APKs & files – Simply drag an APK onto the
    Android Emulator window to trigger an app install. Also you can drag any other
    data file and find it in the /Downloads folder in your Android Virtual Device.
  • Host copy & paste – You can copy & paste text between the
    Android Emulator and your development machine.
  • Virtual 2-finger pinch & zoom – When interacting with apps
    like Google Maps, hold down the Ctrl Key (on Microsoft®
    Windows® or Linux) or ⌘ (on macOS® ) , and a finger
    overlay appears on screen to aid with pinch & zoom actions.
  • GPS location – Manually select a GPS point or set of GPS
    points under the Location tab of the Android Emulator.
  • Virtual sensors – There is a dedicated page in the extended
    controls panel that has supported sensors in the Android Emulator including
    acceleration, rotation, proximity and many more.
  • WebCam support – You can use a webcam or your laptop
    built-in webcam as a virtual camera in the AVD. Validate your AVD camera
    settings in the Advanced Settings page in the AVD Manager.
  • Host machine keyboard – You can use your real keyboard to
    enter text into the Android Virtual Device.
  • Virtual SMS and phone calls – In the extended controls
    panel, you can trigger a virtual SMS or phone call to test apps with telephony
    dependencies.
  • Screen zooming – On the main toolbar, click on the magnify
    glass icon to enter zoom mode, and then select a region of the screen you want
    to inspect.
  • Window resizing – Simply drag a corner of the Android
    Emulator window to change to the desired size.
  • Network proxy support – Add a custom HTTP proxy for your
    Android Emulator session by going to the Settings page under the Proxy tab.
  • Bug reporting – You can quickly generate a bug report for
    your app by using the Bug Report section in the extended controls panel to share
    with your team or to send feedback to Google.

Learn more about the Android Emulator in the Emulator
documentation
.

Getting Started

All of these features and improvements are available to download and use now
with Android Emulator v27.0.2+, which you can get via the SDK Manager in Android
Studio. For a fast experience, we recommend creating and running the x86 version
of emulator system images, with the latest Android Emulator, Intel® HAXM (if
applicable) and graphics drivers installed.

We appreciate any feedback on things you like, issues or features you would like
to see. If you find a bug, issue, or have a feature request feel free to file
an issue
. We are definitely not done, but we hope you are excited about the
improvements so far.

Digital Coaches help Black and Latino businesses grow online

Digital Coaches help Black and Latino businesses grow online

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from JinJa Birkenbeuel, the CEO of Birk Creative, a creative marketing and branding agency.

For the last six months, I’ve been one of eight minority small business owners around the U.S. piloting Google’s Digital Coach program, which offers free workshops for small businesses on how to use Google’s tools for digital marketing. We’re focusing this pilot in cities with historically large communities of Black and Latino small business owners: Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Washington, D.C.

IMG_5866.JPG

I run a creative agency in Chicago called Birk Creative, which I founded in 1997 as a graphic design and print shop–and a way to promote the country/hip-hop band, Utah Carol, that I formed with my husband, Grant. Over the last 20 years, I’ve grown the business to advise other small businesses–and now large corporate clients—on all forms of digital marketing, from designing web sites and online ads to writing social media posts to IT support. With the help of AdWords and Google Analytics in particular, I’ve expanded from a local shop to a full-service agency.

I’ve long wanted to share what I’ve learned over the years with other minority and women business owners. As a Digital Coach, I offer free, open-to-the-public digital marketing lessons (including tutorials from Google’s Get Your Business Online program) and share my own experience on how AdWords, Analytics and other Google tools have helped me solve business challenges.  

Data shows that the total number of Black, Latino, and other minority-owned businesses is growing, and that U.S. Latino small businesses are growing at higher rates than any other U.S. small businesses. Yet Black and Latino-owned businesses are less likely to have websites and less likely to be online than other groups. Our goal with these pilot workshops is to help small businesses like mine participate more fully in the digital economy as they grow.

Since Google launched the pilot in late May, we’ve welcomed more than 5,000 business founders and owners to our Digital Coach workshops around the U.S. We host these events at locations that are familiar to our communities, from the Watts Public Library in Los Angeles to beauty salons in Detroit.

I’ve coached a variety of business owners, including a nail artist, a life coach, a children’s book author and a photo-booth rental company. And there’s one thing they have in common: They’re small, independent businesses or sole proprietorships in Black and Latino communities, all at the point in their growth when they know they can be doing more.

As my Los Angeles Digital Coaches colleague Roberto Martinez says, “Working as a Coach has been transformational. We’re not just presenting or teaching; we are working in tandem with the business owners to better understand how to get ahead of the market.” 

  • hlk_google-fiber-small-business-week_002.jpg

    Program attendees and Googlers at an Austin Coaches program. Austin Digital Coach Vicky Sepulveda is at far right.

  • Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 9.08.08 AM.png

    Coaches at Google campus in Mountain View, with pilot program leaders. Back row, left to right: Chris Genteel, Google’s Head of Business & Community Inclusion; Coaches JinJa Birkenbeuel, Shelly Bell, Vicente Pimienta, Roberto Martinez; Front row, left to right, Akiva Lewis, Google’s Customer Diversity Lead; Coaches Vicky Sepulveda and Katrina Turnbow; Google Digital Coaches pilot program managers Aisha Taylor and Nicole Herrera; and Coaches Angelina Darrisaw and Justin Dawkins

  • y
    JinJa with children’s book author Valerie Reynolds at  Digital Coaches workshop in Chicago.

After six months of meeting so many business owners from a variety of backgrounds (beyond Black and Latino) at my Digital Coach workshops, I’m inspired by them. Though they come to the Digital Coaching workshops to learn from us, our communities across the U.S. are benefiting from their contributions and expertise. As a Digital Coach, I’m honored to be playing a small part to help their businesses grow, so that all of our vibrant neighborhoods can grow, too.

If you’re interested in finding a workshop near you and to participate in our ongoing pilot in 2018, please visit https://accelerate.withgoogle.com/coaches


(Photo credit for image at top: Steve Capers Photography)

20 Years and Beyond: A celebration of #Cisco Capital and what’s next for financial innovation

20 Years and Beyond: A celebration of #Cisco Capital and what’s next for financial innovation

As 2017 comes to a close, we look back at one of the most interesting inflection points in the business landscape. Competition is increasing as growth remains tepid. Geo-political tensions swelled as certainty decreased. In many ways, 2017 was an unprecedented year. It was also an exciting year for Cisco Capital as we celebrated our […]

Introducing Cisco LaunchPad Startup Cohort 3

Introducing Cisco LaunchPad Startup Cohort 3

Cisco LaunchPad’s startup cohort #2 graduated with resounding success. All eight startups received an enthusiastic response from investors, partners, and the Cisco Community. Currently, Cisco LaunchPad has 16 startup alums, of which seven are actively engaged with Cisco on technology and Go-to-Market collaboration. Through Cisco LaunchPad, we are building engagement with highly relevant startup communities […]