Developers, It’s Time To Update Your Apps For Android ‘O’
Google is busy preparing the next version of Android, Android ‘O,’ and has recently released a blog post advising developers that it’s time to update their apps. In particular, the way that Android handles launcher shortcuts and widgets has been changed. Android has supported widgets and desktop shortcuts for a very long time: they are one of the original differentiators between Android and other platforms, namely Windows Phone, iOS, and BlackBerry. For Android ‘O,’ Google is polishing this functionality.
As a recap, shortcuts provide a one-tap link to an application or specific task. Widgets can provide customers with a small selection of actions or information about the application. Shortcuts and widgets. A well designed widget placed on a launcher homescreen allows Android users to get stuff done quickly. Google’s refinement to how this feature works needs developers to upgrade their apps.
One of the improvements with shortcuts and widgets is the inclusion of a small area of the icon showing the parent application, which you can see in the animated GIF here. One potential issue with the old way of launcher shortcuts is that the icon on the desktop doesn’t show you what application it launches. If you add a contact, the icon is simply the contact’s profile picture. Android ‘O’ improves this by adding a smaller section of the icon to illustrate the application that it launches. The benefit of this is that it could help prevent the user from tapping on a malicious application, which could be spamming your launcher with shortcuts.
Desktop application widgets are a relatively recent addition to the Android platform. This is the ability to long-hold over an icon or shortcut and pop up additional commands. For an application such as Google Hangouts, you can start a new text chat, voice or video call. Google has changed how this works, switching from a broadcast mode to a modal dialog. Unfortunately, this means that the old way of additional commands from a long-tap on a shortcut is no longer compatible with Android ‘O’ and that means developers need to reprogram their applications. Fortunately, this page explains how to include the pinning shortcuts and widgets functionality into your applications, together with sample code.
Google’s blog on the subject rightly points out that shortcuts and widgets are a powerful tool for customers to use their devices to get stuff done. A good selection of shortcuts can greatly reduce the number of taps to accomplish certain things. Users able to speedily whizz through tasks are happy, satisfied, and engaged. It means more time using an app and less time looking to launch the app or start whatever activity is intended.