Fortnite is finally coming to Android this summer

Fortnite is finally coming to Android…in a matter of months. After dominating the iOS gaming charts since March, the wildly popular sandbox survival game will be hitting the world’s top mobile operating system at some point this summer. Creator Epic Games buried the news in the middle of a larger blog post titled, “The State of Mobile,” noting, vaguely, “We know many of you are excited for this release, and we promise that when we have more information to share, you’ll hear it from us first.” That news comes amid a flurry of other Fortnite-related announcements this week. Earlier this morning, Epic unveiled a Battle Royale competition with a large in-game cash prize. This morning, the company also laid out plans to bring voice chat and improved gameplay and controls to the mobile side of things. Stats are coming to mobile, as well, along with a reduced install size. Not that any of those issues have hampered the game’s success, of course. Earlier this year, the game was reportedly bringing in $126 million in monthly revenue — even before it arrived on iOS. With its imminent release on Android, that number’s likely to get a whole lot larger.

Tech devices that make for great last-minute gifts for anyone

Makula Dunbar Contributor Makula Dunbar is a writer with Wirecutter. Editor’s note: This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. It should be easy to give a gift. But it can be hard trying to choose what gift to give. That’s especially true with technology, where products tend to be more functional than emotional. Here’s what matters most: finding a present that connects to the recipient, creates a sense of enjoyment, and that they’re actually going to use. Here are five tech gifts that will appeal to almost anyone. Jaybird X3 Wireless Sport Earbuds The Jaybird X3 earbuds are designed for working out, but their design and great audio makes them perfect for anyone on the go. The X3’s interchangeable tips and fins offer a highly customizable, comfortable fit. Overall sound is high quality out of the box, but we like that the companion Jaybird app allows a tailored listening experience. Eight hours of playback time means you’ll be set throughout multiple workouts or a full work day. Amazon Echo (2nd generation) Voice-Controlled Speaker While there’s more than enough buzz surrounding voice-controlled speakers, they’re not yet considered a standard home item. But we think they’re helpful, and we know that a lot of folks find them incredibly useful for ordering food, listening to audiobooks, streaming music, or controlling their appliances and lighting. Our favorite is the Amazon Echo (2nd generation), which does more (and does it better) than any other current model. It supports a huge list of smart-home devices—including thermostats, light bulbs, and vacuums, and it has a set of skills, including offering custom weather, news and calendar alerts. (Note: If you’re giving one of these devices as a gift, make sure the recipient’s preferred music service is supported; Amazon’s devices, for example, work with its own Prime Music service, as well as Spotify, but not with Apple Music.) Jackery Bolt USB Battery A convenient device (which at times doubles as a lifesaver) is a gift that anyone would consider a necessity. We researched more than 300 USB power banks and battery packs and tested 40, naming the Jackery Bolt as our top pick. The Jackery Bolt is made out of aluminum and is the perfect size for carrying around in your bag or pocket every day. It has two connector cables (one Lightning and one MicroUSB), and its 6000 mAh battery has enough power to charge a medium-sized smartphone twice. Nixplay Seed Digital Photo Frame The Nixplay Seed digital photo frame is perfect way to keep faraway friends and family members in sight. Since it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, you can be anywhere and use social media platforms, cloud storage, or your smartphone to upload pictures. It’s a great gift because new and old moments can be shared anytime, giving viewers more reasons to touch base with you. It has a high-resolution IPS display that can show images in landscape or portrait orientation. The photo frame’s remote and sensor—which turns the device off when no one’s in the room — lets you choose what you want to see at your convenience. Multiple people can create photo playlists through the Nixplay website, or add pictures to be shown by sending them through email. With 8GB of storage it has the capacity to hold roughly 25,000 smartphone photos. GoPro Hero5 Black Action Camera The GoPro Hero5 Black is our top pick for action cameras because it can be used for everyday filming, capturing memories during travel adventures, and is great in environments that aren’t suitable for larger, pricier camera equipment. It doesn’t have a clunky case, but it’s still waterproof. For those who usually place tech integration at the top of their gear list, the GoPro Hero5 Black also has a touchscreen interface and voice-control capabilities. During testing we found its footage to be crisp and clear with accurate color in addition to sound quality that’s worth keeping in professional edits. Garmin Vivosport Fitness Tracker If you’re looking for a way to jumpstart your exercise routine and you haven’t picked up a fitness tracker, now’s the time. We’ve tested 23 fitness trackers over the past three years and think the Garmin Vivosport is the best option. Its built-in GPS, long-lasting battery life and color display set it apart from others. In addition to monitoring your workouts (including strength-training reps), it helps keep tabs on your sleep and stress levels, and is Bluetooth-enabled for IOS and Android integration with streaming music and notifications. This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. Note from Wirecutter: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

Android gets a Jetpack

At its I/O developer conference, Google today announced Jetpack, a major update to how developers write applications for Android today. Jetpack represents the next generation of the Android Support Library, which virtually every Android App in the Play Store uses because it provides a lot of the basic functionality that you would expect from a mobile app. It’s also the next step in the work that the company has been doing with architecture components, a feature it launched at last year’s I/O. Jetpack combines the existing Android support libraries and components and wraps them into a new set of components (including a couple of new ones) for managing things like background tasks, navigation, paging, and life-cycle management, as well as UI features like emoji and layout controls for various platforms like Android Wear, Auto and TV, as well as some more foundation features like AppCompact and Test. It’s important to note that developers can choose whether they want to use Jetpack. Ahead of today’s announcement, Stephanie Saad Cuthbertson, Google’s product management director for Android, told me the company will continue to release all updates in both the support libraries and Jetpack. Cuthbertson also stressed that the general idea here is to remove some of the repetitive grunt work that comes with writing new apps and help developers get more done while writing less code. New components that will go live with Jetpack today include WorkManager, Paging, Navigation and support for Slices, the newly launched feature for highlighting results from installed apps in Google Search and the Google Assistant. WorkManager handles background jobs, while the Navigation component helps developers structure their in-app UI. The Paging Component lets developers break down the data they pull from a server into — you guessed it — pages, so they can display results faster. All of these new components, except for the Paging component, which is stable, are officially still in alpha. It’s worth noting that Jetpack was very much designed with the Kotlin programming language in mind. It was only last year that Google elevated Kotlin to a first-class language in the Android ecosystem; 28 out of the top 100 apps in the Google Play store already use it. Cuthbertson also noted that 95 percent of the developers who use Kotlin say they are happy with using it for Android development. With today’s launch of Jetpack, Google is also launching Android KTX, a set of Kotlin extensions for Android, as well as Jetpack support in the latest canary release of Android Studio 3.2.

Google’s Android development studio gets a new update with visual navigation editing

Android’s development studio is getting a new update as Google rolls out Android Studio 3.2 Canary, adding new tools for visual navigation editing and Jetpack. The new release includes build tools for the new Android App Bundle format, Snapshots, a new optimizer for smaller app code and a new way to measure an app’s impact on battery life. The Snapshots tool is baked into the Android Emulator and is geared toward getting the emulator up and running in two seconds. All this is geared toward making Android app development easier as the company looks to woo developers — especially potentially early ones — into an environment that’s built around creating Android apps. The visual navigation editing looks a bit like a flow chart, where users can move screens around and connect them. You can add new screens, position them in your flow, and under covers will help you manage the whole stack in the background. Google has increasingly worked to abstract away a lot of the complex elements of building applications, whether that’s making its machine learning framework TensorFlow more palatable by letting developers create tools using their preferred languages or trying to make it easier to build an app quickly. Visual navigation is one way to further abstract out the complex process of programming in different activities within an app. As competition continues to exist between Apple and Google, it’s important that Google ensures that the apps are launching on Google Play in order to continue to drive Android device adoption. The sped-up emulator, in particular, may solve a pain point for developers that want to rapidly test parts of their apps and see how they may operate in the wild without having to wait for the app to load in an emulator or on a test device.

Google’s new Android App Bundles promise to make apps radically smaller

Google today announced Android App Bundles, a new tool for developers that will make apps radically smaller. The trick here is that developers can now say which of their apps’ assets should be included for a given device so there’s no need to ship every visual asset for every screen size and support for every language to every user, for example — something many developers do today. That can result in install files that can sometimes be more than 50 percent smaller than before. As Google’s Stephanie Cuthbertson told me, large download sizes are often an issue for users in developing countries, but elsewhere, too, users often balk at installing large apps. “Apps are targeting more countries than over, they have more features than ever,” she told me. “But we know the larger apps are, the fewer installs they get.” To enable this new feature, Google rearchitected its whole app serving stack. As Cuthbertson noted, that was a major project. Since the Android team had been toying with this idea for a while, though, most of the Android platform was ready for this change. So while the standard APK format isn’t going to change, every user now essentially gets a somewhat personalized file when hitting the Install button in Google Play. Google says it trialed this service with some of its own apps already, including the YouTube and Google apps. A couple of other partners also tested it already; Microsoft, for example, saw a 23 percent file reduction for the LinkedIn app. Most of the hard work to enable this feature is handled by Google, but developers who want to make use of it do have to specify which assets and languages they want to ship to which users. As Cuthbertson noted, much of this was possible before, but it was hard to do for developers. Now, they can use the same development flow as before and only have to make some very minor changes to enable support for App Bundles. In addition to delivering the full app through an App Bundle, Google is also today introducing a related new tool: dynamic features. This essentially allows developers to make their apps modular. As Cuthbertson noted, that may be especially interesting to developers whose apps offer lots of features, some of which may only see usage by a very small number of users. For those users, developers can simply ship that feature on demand when they attempt to use it. Developers can start experimenting with these features in the latest canary release of Android Studio.

Watch Google I/O developer keynote live right here

Google I/O is nowhere near done. While the mainstream keynote just ended, the company is about to unveil the next big things when it comes to APIs, SDKs, frameworks and more. The developer keynote starts at 12:45 PM Pacific Time (3:45 PM on the East Cost, 8:45 PM in London, 9:45 PM in Paris) and you can watch the live stream right here on this page. If you’re an Android developer, this is where you’ll get the juicy details about the next version of Android. You can expect new possibilities and developer tools for you and your company. We’ll have a team on the ground to cover the best bits right here on TechCrunch.

Google rolls out app time management controls

Google today announced at its I/O developer conference a new suite tools for its new Android P operating system that will help users better manage their screen time, including a more robust do not disturb mode and ways to track your app usage. The biggest change is introducing a dashboard to Android P that tracks all of your Android usage, labeled under the “digital wellbeing” banner. Users can see how many times they’ve unlocked their phones, how many notifications they get, and how long they’ve spent on apps, for example. Developers can also add in ways to get more information on that app usage. YouTube, for example, will show total watch time across all devices in addition to just Android devices. Google says it has designed all of this to promote what developers call “meaningful engagement,” trying to reduce the kind of idle screen time that might not necessarily be healthy — like sitting on your phone before you go to bed. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other big changes: Google’s do not disturb mode is getting additional ways to ignore notifications. Users can turn their phones over in order to automatically engage do not disturb, a gesture that Google is calling “shush.” Google is also reducing visual notifications in addition to texts and calls when do not disturb is activated. Google is also introducing a “wind down” mode that activates before users go to bed. Wind down mode changes the screen color to a grayscale, and lowers the brightness over time. This one is geared toward helping people put their phones down when they’re going to bed. Users can set time limits on their apps. Android P will nudge users when they are approaching that time limit, and once they it it, the app will turn gray on the launcher in order to indicate that they’ve exceeded the screen time they wanted for that app. The launch had been previously reported by The Washington Post, and arrives at a time when there’s increasing concerns about the negative side of technology and, specifically, its addictive nature. The company already offers tools for parents who want to manage children’s devices, via Family Link – software for controlling access to apps, setting screen time limits, and configuring device bedtimes, among other things. Amazon also offers a robust set of parental controls for its Fire tablets and Apple is expected to launch an expanded set of parental controls for iOS later this year.

Android blatantly copies the iPhone X navigation gestures

Google unveiled some of the new features in the next version of Android at its developer conference. One feature looked particularly familiar. Android P will get new navigation gestures to switch between apps. And it works just like the iPhone X. “As part of Android P, we’re introducing a new system navigation that we’ve been working on for more than a year now,” VP of Android Engineering Dave Burke said. “And the new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand.” While Google has probably been working on a new multitasking screen for a year, it’s hard to believe that the company didn’t copy Apple. The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017. On Android P, the traditional home, back and multitasking buttons are gone. There’s a single pill-shaped button at the center of the screen. If you swipe up from this button, you get a new multitasking view with your most recent apps. You can swipe left and right and select the app you’re looking for. If you swipe up one more time, you get the app drawer with suggested apps at the very top. At any time, you can tap on the button to go back to the home screen. These gestures also work when you’re using an app. Android P adds a back button in the bottom left corner if you’re in an app. But the most shameless inspiration is the left and right gestures. If you swipe left and right on the pill-shaped button, you can switch to the next app, exactly like on the iPhone X. You can scrub through multiple apps. As soon as you release your finger, you’ll jump to the selected app. You can get Android P beta for a handful of devices starting today. End users will get the new version in the coming months. It’s hard to blame Google with this one as the iPhone X gestures are incredibly elegant and efficient. Using a phone that runs the current version of Android after using the iPhone X is much slower as it requires multiple taps to switch to the most recent app. But Google still deserves to be called out.

What to expect at Google I/O this week

Google has been rolling out news at a steady rate since last week, in what feels like a bit of a last-minute clearinghouse ahead of tomorrow. The company’s already taken the wraps off of news about Android TV, Google Home, Wear OS Assistant, you name it. If this were practically any other company, we’d be concerned that there’s nothing left to discuss. But this is Google. The next few days are going to be jam-packed with developer news and a whole lot of information around the company’s consumer-facing offerings over the next year and beyond. Android, Assistant, Wear OS, search and the like are going to take center stage when the company kicks off the festivities tomorrow at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. You’d better believe we’ll be on-hand bringing you all of the relevant information as it breaks. In the meantime, here’s some of what you can expect from the big show. Android P The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system seems likely to take center stage here — be it Peppermint Patty, Pudding or Popsicle. The first developer preview of 9.0 dropped in March of this year, and I/O is likely to be the launching pad of the next big one. Given how much of Oreo’s changes happened behind the scenes, it stands to reason that we’re in for a more consumer-facing update for the OS this time out. We’ve already seen a bit of those visual updates, including new notifications and some upgrades setting the stage for the nearly ubiquitous top notch. That, by most accounts, won’t be going away any time soon. “Material Design 2” is a buzzword that’s been floating around for a few months now to describe the first major overhaul to the OS’s aesthetic in about four years, bringing an overall flatter and more universal design language to Android. We’ll also likely get some more insight into a gesture-based navigation that takes some cues from the iPhone X. Assistant/Home Assistant has been a linchpin in Google’s ecosystem play for a few years now, and its importance is only likely to grow. Announcements over the past couple of weeks have broadened the company’s Siri/Alexa competitor to even more categories, including Android TV and Wear OS, so probably don’t do an Assistant-related drinking game tomorrow, unless you’re gunning for alcohol poisoning. It also seems fairly likely that we’ll see more devices on this front. A second version of Google Home seems overdue. That could well get an Echo-like update, bringing it up to speed with the rest of the line. And what of all of those Smart Displays the company talked up back at CES? Things have been pretty quiet on that front — perhaps a little too quiet. Expect partnerships galore. The company showed off a Fandango Action just this week — and that’s likely to only be the tip of the iceberg. AR/VR/AI Artificial intelligence has also been gaining plenty of steam on the Google campus. AI and ML have been the driving forces in key offerings like Translate, Lens and, of course, Assistant, which the company is looking to truly distinguish from the competition. The company’s TensorFlow machine learning engine is going to get a lot of attention. Google also just recently took the wraps off the Lenovo-branded Daydream headset, setting the stage for some big VR talk at this week’s show. Of course, the company seems even more content to focus on augmented reality these days. The tech has been a focus recently on Pixel devices, as the company looks to distinguish ARCore from Apple’s ARKit. Now’s the time for the company to really double down on what’s becoming a more and more important piece of mobile tech. Wear OS This is a tough one. Google already revealed some Assistant features for the newly rebranded wearable operating system, perhaps in an attempt to build a little excitement around what, by most accounts, has been a pretty stagnant product category for the company. Wearables in general have been on a bit of a downward trajectory and Google specifically hasn’t done a lot to change that. The company really needs to come in with guns blazing here and reassert itself in the category. Assistant integration will do a bit to help invigorate the company, but expect to see Google do a much better job laying out what the future of wearables will look like under the new rebrand. Google I/O kicks off tomorrow. You can follow along here.

Google I/O kicks off tomorrow — here’s what to expect

Google has been rolling out news at a steady rate since last week, in what feels like a bit of a last-minute clearinghouse ahead of tomorrow. The company’s already taken the wraps off of news about Android TV, Google Home, Wear OS Assistant, you name it. If this were practically any other company, we’d be concerned that there’s nothing left to discuss. But this is Google. The next few days are going to be jam-packed with developer news and a whole lot of information around the company’s consumer-facing offerings over the next year and beyond. Android, Assistant, Wear OS, search and the like are going to take center stage when the company kicks off the festivities tomorrow at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. You’d better believe we’ll be on-hand bringing you all of the relevant information as it breaks. In the meantime, here’s some of what you can expect from the big show. Android P The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system seems likely to take center stage here — be it Peppermint Patty, Pudding or Popsicle. The first developer preview of 9.0 dropped in March of this year, and I/O is likely to be the launching pad of the next big one. Given how much of Oreo’s changes happened behind the scenes, it stands to reason that we’re in for a more consumer-facing update for the OS this time out. We’ve already seen a bit of those visual updates, including new notifications and some upgrades setting the stage for the nearly ubiquitous top notch. That, by most accounts, won’t be going away any time soon. “Material Design 2” is a buzzword that’s been floating around for a few months now to describe the first major overhaul to the OS’s aesthetic in about four years, bringing an overall flatter and more universal design language to Android. We’ll also likely get some more insight into a gesture-based navigation that takes some cues from the iPhone X. Assistant/Home Assistant has been a linchpin in Google’s ecosystem play for a few years now, and its importance is only likely to grow. Announcements over the past couple of weeks have broadened the company’s Siri/Alexa competitor to even more categories, including Android TV and Wear OS, so probably don’t do an Assistant-related drinking game tomorrow, unless you’re gunning for alcohol poisoning. It also seems fairly likely that we’ll see more devices on this front. A second version of Google Home seems overdue. That could well get an Echo-like update, bringing it up to speed with the rest of the line. And what of all of those Smart Displays the company talked up back at CES? Things have been pretty quiet on that front — perhaps a little too quiet. Expect partnerships galore. The company showed off a Fandango Action just this week — and that’s likely to only be the tip of the iceberg. AR/VR/AI Artificial intelligence has also been gaining plenty of steam on the Google campus. AI and ML have been the driving forces in key offerings like Translate, Lens and, of course, Assistant, which the company is looking to truly distinguish from the competition. The company’s TensorFlow machine learning engine is going to get a lot of attention. Google also just recently took the wraps off the Lenovo-branded Daydream headset, setting the stage for some big VR talk at this week’s show. Of course, the company seems even more content to focus on augmented reality these days. The tech has been a focus recently on Pixel devices, as the company looks to distinguish ARCore from Apple’s ARKit. Now’s the time for the company to really double down on what’s becoming a more and more important piece of mobile tech. Wear OS This is a tough one. Google already revealed some Assistant features for the newly rebranded wearable operating system, perhaps in an attempt to build a little excitement around what, by most accounts, has been a pretty stagnant product category for the company. Wearables in general have been on a bit of a downward trajectory and Google specifically hasn’t done a lot to change that. The company really needs to come in with guns blazing here and reassert itself in the category. Assistant integration will do a bit to help invigorate the company, but expect to see Google do a much better job laying out what the future of wearables will look like under the new rebrand. Google I/O kicks off tomorrow. You can follow along here.

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