Microsoft Music Deals app brings hit music albums to your Windows PC, Tablet or Phone for only $.99-$1.99

Do you love music as much as I do (which is a lot)? Then you’re going to want to grab the Microsoft Music Deals app. Every Tuesday, 101 top albums can be yours for under $2 each with the Microsoft Music Deals app. You’ll also be able to enjoy new, debut albums at only $.99 and timeless classics for just $1.99. Just choose the album you want in the Microsoft Music Deals app and it’ll take you to the Xbox Music app in Windows 8/8.1 or Windows Phone 8/8.1 to download-to-own. The app will give you Live Tile updates and push notifications when new deals become available. This app has found first-class real estate on my Start screen!

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This week, you’ll be able to download Slipknot’s latest heavy metal album “.5: The Gray Chapter” for just $.99. Some of my most favorite classic albums are also available for under $2 such as Phil Collins’ “No Jacket Required” album, Prince’s “Purple Rain” album and Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” (Super Deluxe) album. You can enjoy more recent hit albums like Maroon 5’s “V” album and 5 Seconds Of Summer’s debut album for under $2 too.

Download the Microsoft Music Deals app from the Windows Store here and from the Windows Phone Store here!

It’s Tuesday morning, play music for a bright, sunshiny day

It’s Tuesday morning and you might be sitting in the office, in desperate need of a way to stay motivated for the week ahead. How about a playlist for staying focused at work? Starting today, it’s easier to find the right music for every mood with an updated Google Play Music app. This is our first integration with Songza, a company we acquired this summer that gives you expert curated music stations based on what you’re doing.

If you’re a Google Play Music subscriber, next time you open the app you’ll be prompted to play music for a time of day, mood or activity. Choose an activity to get options for several music stations to make whatever you’re doing even better—whether it’s a station for a morning workout, songs to relieve stress during traffic, or the right mix for cooking with friends. Each station has been handcrafted—song by song—by our team of music experts (dozens of DJs, musicians, music critics and ethnomusicologists) to give you the exact right song for the moment.

You can download these music stations to listen when you’re offline, see what song is up next, and add, remove or re-order them to suit your taste. Or you can start a new station based on any song in the mix. You can also search for a particular station you want or activity you want to find music for.

As part of this update, we’ve also redesigned the “Listen Now” page so you can more easily discover new music. Now you’ll see cards for all of your recently played music, new releases you might be interested in, and radio stations based on what you like to listen to. You’ll also notice that the new app uses Google’s material design, with bigger images, bolder colors and slick transitions.

The new activity-based station recommendations are available today for subscribers in the U.S. and Canada (Android, iOS and the web). The redesigned “Listen Now” page is available in all 45 countries where Google Play Music is available (for Android, iOS and the web). 

With more than 30 million songs to choose from on Google Play, it can be hard to figure out what to listen to. Sometimes you want to build your own mix to rock out with your friends, and sometimes you want to sit back, press play and hear something completely new. Whether you’re at work or on vacation, we’ll find you the best music station to make the experience better.

Posted by Brandon Bilinski and Elias Roman, Google Play Music product managers

64-bit and iOS 8 Requirements for New Apps

Starting February 1, 2015, new iOS apps uploaded to the App Store must include 64-bit support and be built with the iOS 8 SDK, included in Xcode 6 or later. To enable 64-bit in your project, we recommend using the default Xcode build setting of “Standard architectures” to build a single binary with both 32-bit and 64-bit code.

What's New in Android 5.0 Lollipop

By Ankur Kotwal, Developer Advocate

Android 5.0 Lollipop is the biggest update of Android to date, introducing an all new visual style, improved performance, and much more. Android 5.0 Lollipop also extends across screens big and small, including phones, tablets, wearables, TVs and cars, to give your users access to information when they need it most.

To get you started on developing and testing on Android 5.0 Lollipop, here are some of the developer highlights with links to related videos and documentation.

User experience

  • Material design for the multiscreen world — Material Design is a new approach for designing apps in today’s multi-device world that takes a comprehensive strategy to visual, motion, and interaction design across a number of platforms and form factors. Android 5.0 brings Material Design to the platform, with a full set of tools for implementing material design in your apps. The system is incredibly flexible, allowing your app to express its individual character and brand with bold colors and a variety of responsive UI patterns and themeable elements.
  • Enhanced notifications — New lockscreen notifications let you surface content, updates, and actions to users at a glance, without needing to unlock their device. Heads-up notifications let you display content and actions in a small floating window managed by the system, no matter which app is in the foreground. Notifications are refreshed for Material Design and you can use accent colors to express your brand.
  • Concurrent documents in Overview — Now you can organize your app by tasks and present these concurrently as individual “documents” on the Overview screen. For example, instant messaging apps could declare each chat as a separate document. Users can flip through these on the Overview screen to find the specific chat they want and jump straight to it.

Performance

  • Android Runtime (ART) — Android 5.0 runs exclusively on the ART runtime. ART offers ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, more efficient garbage collection, and improved development and debugging features. In many cases it improves performance of the device, without you having to change your code.
  • 64-bit support — Support for 64-bit ABIs provides additional address space and improved performance with certain compute workloads. Apps written in the Java language can run immediately on 64-bit architectures with no modifications required. NDK r10c includes 64-bit support, for apps and games using native code.
  • Project Volta — New tools and APIs help you build battery-efficient apps. Battery Historian, a tool included in the SDK, lets you visualize power events over time and understand how your app is using battery. The JobScheduler API lets you set the conditions under which your background tasks and other jobs should run, such as when the device is idle or connected to an unmetered network or to a charger, to minimize battery impact. More in this I/O video.
  • OpenGL ES 3.1 and Android Extension Pack — With OpenGL ES 3.1, you get compute shaders, stencil textures, and texture gather for your games. Android Extension Pack (AEP) is a new set of extensions to OpenGL ES that bring desktop-class graphics to Android including tessellation and geometry shaders, and use ASTC texture compression across GPU technologies. More on what’s new for game developers in this DevBytes video.
  • WebView updates — We’ve updated WebView to support WebRTC, WebAudio and WebGL will be supported. WebView also includes native support for all of the Web Components specifications: Custom Elements, Shadow DOM, HTML Imports, and Templates. WebView is now unbundled from the system and will be regularly updated through Google Play.

Workplace

  • Managed provisioning and unified view of apps — to make it easier for employees to have a single device for personal and work use, framework enhancements offer a unified view of apps, notifications & recents across work apps and personal apps. Profile owner APIs, in the workplace context, let administrators create and manage work profiles and defined as part of a new managed provisioning process. More in this I/O video.

Media

  • Advanced camera capabilities — A new camera API gives you new capabilities for advanced image capture and processing. On supported devices, your app can capture uncompressed YUV capture at full 8 megapixel resolution at 30 FPS. You can also capture raw sensor data and control parameters such as exposure time, ISO sensitivity, and frame duration, on a per-frame basis.
  • Audio improvements — The sound architecture has been enhanced, with lower input latency in OpenSL, the addition of multichannel-mixing, and USB digital audio mode support. More in this I/O video.

Connectivity

  • BLE Peripheral Mode — Android devices can now function in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) peripheral mode. Apps can use this capability to broadcast their presence to nearby devices — for example, you can now build apps that let a device function as a beacon and transmit data to another BLE device. More in this I/O video.
  • Multi-networking — Apps can dynamically request networks based on capabilities such as metered or unmetered. This is useful when you want to use a specific network, such as cellular. Apps can also request platform to re-evaluate networks for an internet connection. This is useful when your app sees unusually high latency on a particular network, it can enable the platform to switch to a better network (if available) sooner with a graceful handoff.

Get started!

You can get started developing and testing on Android 5.0 right away by downloading the Android 5.0 Platform (API level 21), as well as the SDK Tools, Platform Tools, and Support Package from the Android SDK Manager.

Check out the DevByte video below for more of what’s new in Lollipop!

Android 5.0 Lollipop SDK and Nexus Preview Images

Two more weeks!

By Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

At Google I/O last June, we gave you an early version of Android 5.0 with the L Developer Preview, running on Nexus 5, Nexus 7 and Android TV. Over the course of the L Developer Preview program, you’ve given us great feedback and we appreciate the engagement from you, our developer community. Thanks!

This week, we announced Android 5.0 Lollipop. Starting today, you can download the full release of the Android 5.0 SDK, along with updated developer images for Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), ADT-1, and the Android emulator.

The first set of devices to run this new version of Android — Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player — will be available in early November. In the same timeframe, we’ll also roll out the Android 5.0 update worldwide to Nexus 4, 5, 7 (2012 & 2013), and 10 devices, as well as to Google Play edition devices.

Therefore, now is the time to test your apps on the new platform. You have two more weeks to get ready!

What’s in Lollipop?

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduces a host of new APIs and features including:

There’s much more, so check out the Android 5.0 platform highlights for a complete overview.

What’s in the Android 5.0 SDK?

The Android 5.0 SDK includes updated tools and new developer system images for testing. You can develop against the latest Android platform using API level 21 and take advantage of the updated support library to implement Material Design as well as the leanback user interface for TV apps.

You can download these components through the Android SDK Manager and develop your app in Android Studio:

  • Android 5.0 SDK Platform & Tools
  • Android 5.0 Emulator System Image – 32-bit & 64-bit (x86)
  • Android 5.0 Emulator System Image for Android TV (32-bit)
  • Android v7 appcompat Support Library for Material Design theme backwards capability
  • Android v17 leanback library for Android TV app support

For developers using the Android NDK for native C/C++ Android apps we have:

For developers on Android TV devices we have:

  • Android 5.0 system image over the air (OTA) update for ADT-1 Developer Kit. OTA updates will appear over the next few days.

Similar to our previous release of the preview, we are also providing updated system image downloads for Nexus 5 & Nexus 7 (2013) devices to help with your testing as well. These images support the Android 5.0 SDK, but only have the minimal apps pre-installed in order to enable developer testing:

  • Nexus 5 (GSM/LTE) “hammerhead” Device System Image
  • Nexus 7 (2013) – (Wifi) “razor” Device System Image

For the developer preview versions, there will not be an over the air (OTA) update. You will need to wipe and reflash your developer device to use the latest developer preview versions. If you want to receive the official consumer OTA update in November and any other official updates, you will have to have a factory image on your Nexus device.

Validate your apps with the Android 5.0 SDK

With the consumer availability of Android 5.0 and the Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player right around the corner, here are a few things you should do to prepare:

  • Get the emulator system images through the SDK Manager or download the Nexus device system images.
  • Recompile your apps against Android 5.0 SDK, especially if you used any preview APIs. Note: APIs have changed between the preview SDK and the final SDK.
  • Validate that your current Android apps run on the new API 21 level with ART enabled. And if you use the NDK for your C/C++ Android apps, validate against the 64-bit emulator. ART is enabled by default on API 21 & new Android devices with Android 5.0.

Once you validate your current app, explore the new APIs and features for Android 5.0.

Migrate Your Existing App to Material Design

Android 5.0 Lollipop introduces Material Design, which enables your apps to adopt a bold, colorful, and flexible design, while remaining true to a small set of key principles that guide user interaction across multiple screens and devices.

After making sure your current apps work with Android 5.0, now is the time to enable the Material theme in your app with the AppCompat support library. For quick tips & recommendations for making your app shine with Material Design, check out our Material Design guidelines and tablet optimization tips. For those of you new to Material Design, check out our Getting Started guide.

Get your apps ready for Google Play!

Starting today, you can publish your apps that are targeting Android 5.0 Lollipop to Google Play. In your app manifest, update android:targetSdkVersion to "21", test your app, and upload it to the Google Play Developer Console.

Starting November 3rd, Nexus 9 will be the first device available to consumers that will run Android 5.0. Therefore, it is a great time to publish on Google Play, once you’ve updated and tested your app. Even if your apps target earlier versions of Android, take a few moments to test them on the Android 5.0 system images, and publish any updates needed in advance of the Android 5.0 rollout.

Stay tuned for more details on the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9 devices, and how to make sure your apps look their best on them.

Next up, Android TV!

We also announced the first consumer Android TV device, Nexus Player. It’s a streaming media player for movies, music and videos, and also a first-of-its-kind Android gaming device. Users can play games on their HDTVs with a gamepad, then keep playing on their phones while they’re on the road. The device is also Google Cast-enabled, so users can cast your app from their phones or tablets to their TV.

If you’re developing for Android TV, watch for more information on November 3rd about how to distribute your apps to Android TV users through the Google Play Developer Console. You can start getting your app ready by making sure it meets all of the TV Quality Guidelines<!– and Google Play publishing requirements–>.

Get started with Android 5.0 Lollipop platform

If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at this new version of Android yet, download the SDK and get started today. You can learn more about what’s new in the Android 5.0 platform highlights and get all the details on new APIs and changed behaviors in the API Overview. You can also check out the latest DevBytes videos to learn more about Android 5.0 features.

Enjoy this new release of Android!

Halo: Spartan Strike coming to Windows and Windows Phone later this year

As a casual Halo gamer, I have a lot of fun and don’t care that I am absolutely awful at it. I love playing Halo 4 on my Xbox 360 with my best friend and really look forward to the Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One. And of course Halo: Spartan Assault continues to be one of my favorite games for Windows and Windows Phone. As you can imagine, I’m pretty stoked about today’s announcement for Halo: Spartan Strike!

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Halo: Spartan Strike is a brand new a touch-based top-down shooter Halo game coming to Windows and Windows Phone on December 12th. Halo: Spartan Strike includes a compelling new story that is set during the events of Halo 2 on New Mombasa in 2552. You play as a Spartan leading UNSC troops on over 30 challenging missions through cities and jungles using an all-new arsenal of weapons, armor abilities and vehicles including the iconic Warthog. You battle against the Covenant and Promethean forces in order to protect Earth from being overtaken! Sounds fun, right? Halo: Spartan Strike also features amazing new graphics and improved touch controls.

Here is the list of game features to get excited for:

  • Crush your enemies using the iconic Warthog jeep, or sweep them from the battlefield using the all-new Kestrel VTOL.
  • Face off against new Promethean enemies; deadly mechanical warriors who seek mankind’s annihilation.
  • Use all-new weapons (Suppressor, Scatter Shot, Binary Rifle and Incineration Cannon) and armor abilities (Proximity Mine, Bubble Shield, Teleport, Shock Chain and Airstrike) to dominate on the battlefield.
  • Experience an all-new story that will take you from New Mombasa on Earth to the enigmatic Gamma Halo located at the edge of charted space.
  • Pick and play through shared progress between your Windows devices via Xbox Live (or between PCs/Tablets on Steam via Steam Cloud)
  • Complete weekly challenges and take the top position in leaderboards that showcase your Halo gaming skills.
  • Take control! Choose between keyboard and mouse, USB Xbox controller, or touch-based virtual joystick.
  • Earn achievements in Halo: Spartan Strike to unlock an exclusive emblem, nameplate, and avatar in Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One (sold separately and only on Windows devices).

Look for another post from me when the game is available in December.

Android: Be together. Not the same.

Good things happen when everybody’s invited. A few years ago, we had the thought that phones (and stuff that hadn’t even been invented yet like tablets and smart watches) would be way more interesting if everyone could build new things together. So we created Android as an open platform, and put it out there for everyone to imagine, invent, make, or buy whatever they wanted.

Since then, all kinds of people—from companies big and small to folks on Kickstarter, kids in schools, and crazy smart developers—have been innovating faster, together, more than we ever could alone. And the best part is that every time someone new joins in, things get more interesting, unexpected, and wonderful for all of us.

Getting everyone in on the party is the same spirit behind Android One—an effort recently launched in India (coming to other countries soon) to make great smartphones available to the billions of people around the world who aren’t yet online. It’s also why we’re excited about Lollipop, our newest software release, which is designed to meet the diverse needs of the billion-plus people who already use Android today.

Joining the party: Android 5.0 Lollipop
As previewed at Google I/O, Lollipop is our largest, most ambitious release on Android with over 5,000 new APIs for developers. Lollipop is designed to be flexible, to work on all your devices and to be customized for you the way you see fit. And just like Android has always been, it’s designed to be shared. Lollipop is made for a world where moving throughout the day means interacting with a bunch of different screens—from phones and tablets to TVs. With more devices connecting together, your expectation is that things just work. With Lollipop, it’s easier than ever to pick up where you left off, so the songs, photos, apps, and even recent searches from one of your Android devices can be immediately enjoyed across all the other ones.

As you switch from one screen to another, the experience should feel the same. So Lollipop has a consistent design across devices—an approach we call Material Design. Now content responds to your touch, or even your voice, in more intuitive ways, and transitions between tasks are more fluid. 

Lollipop also gives you more control over your device. You can now adjust your settings so that only certain people and notifications can get through, for example, when you’re out to dinner or in the middle of an important meeting. And when an important notification does come through, you can see it directly from the lockscreen.

And because we’re using our devices a lot more, there’s a new battery saver feature that extends the life of your device by up to 90 minutes—helpful if you’re far from a power outlet. We’ve enabled multiple user accounts and guest user mode for keeping your personal stuff private. And you can now secure your device with a PIN, password, pattern, or even by pairing your phone to a trusted device like your watch or car with Smart Lock. But this is just a small taste of Lollipop. Learn more on android.com.

Meet the Nexus family, now running Lollipop
Advances in computing are driven at the intersection of hardware and software. That’s why we’ve always introduced Nexus devices alongside our platform releases. Rather than creating software in the abstract, we work with hardware partners to build Nexus devices to help push the boundaries of what’s possible. Nexus devices also serve as a reference for the ecosystem as they develop on our newest release. And for Lollipop, we have a few new Nexus treats to share with you.

First, with Motorola, we developed the Nexus 6. This new phone has a contoured aluminum frame, a 6-inch Quad HD display and a 13 megapixel camera. The large screen is complemented by dual front-facing stereo speakers that deliver high-fidelity sound, making it as great for movies and gaming as it is for doing work. It also comes with a Turbo Charger, so you can get up to six hours of use with only 15 minutes of charge.

Next, a new tablet built in partnership with HTC. Nexus 9, with brushed metal sides and 8.9-inch screen, is small enough to easily carry around in one hand, yet big enough to work on. And since more and more people want to have the same simple experience they have on their tablets when they have to do real work, we designed a keyboard folio that magnetically attaches to the Nexus 9, folds into two different angles and rests securely on your lap like a laptop.

Finally, we’re releasing the first device running Android TV: Nexus Player, a collaboration with Asus, is a streaming media player for movies, music and videos. It’s also a first-of-its-kind Android gaming device. With Nexus Player you can play Android games on your HDTV with a gamepad, then keep playing on your phone while you’re on the road. Nexus Player is Google Cast Ready so you can cast your favorite entertainment from almost any Chromebook or Android or iOS phone or tablet to your TV.

Nexus 9 and Nexus Player will be available for pre-order on October 17. Nexus 9 will be in stores starting November 3. Nexus 6 will be available for pre-order in late October and in stores in November—with options for an unlocked version through Play store, or a monthly contract or installment plan through carriers, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. Specific carrier rollout timing will vary. Check out google.com/nexus for more details on availability.

Android 5.0 Lollipop, which comes on Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Nexus Player, will also be available on Nexus 4, 5, 7, 10 and Google Play edition devices in the coming weeks.

The party’s just getting started
With this latest release of Android Lollipop, we’re excited to continue working with our developer community, hardware partners, and all of you. More ideas and more creators is what gets us all to better ideas faster. And since everyone’s invited to the party, we hope you’ll join in the fun by creating and sharing an Android character that captures a little bit of who you are—one of a kind. Enjoy!


Posted by Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps

Give Skype Qik a try

Skype Qik is a new video messaging app that runs alongside Skype on your device and gives you a fun and easy way to capture and share quick moments and thoughts with friends and family. While I regularly have Skype calls with my dad (who lives in a different state) – this app can be used in between those calls for quick conversations and to share moments with him even though he’s in another state. It can help me make my dad feel more involved in my life. Ok mushy stuff aside, it can also be used to send quick funny and annoying messages to your best friend too.

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Download it from the Windows Phone Store and give it a try!

Roku rolls out screen mirroring beta for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices

Late last week, Roku began rolling out a beta of a new screen mirroring feature that is now available for all customers with Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version) devices. This feature allows you to mirror what’s on your phone, tablet or laptop screen to your TV screen wirelessly with Miracast-enabled Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. I picked up a Roku 3 to give this new feature a try!

Using this new screen mirroring feature is very easy and is enabled by default, so you just need to make sure your Roku 3 or Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version) is up to date with software version 5.6. You can disable or enable the feature in Settings (but why would you?).

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I was able to get Cortana up on my big screen HDTV in a matter of seconds from my Lumia 1520! Here is how you project your screen in Windows Phone 8.1.

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In looking at the weather – we’ve got rain coming. What a shock.

Then I projected the screen off my Dell Venue 8 Pro. Here is how to project your screen in Windows 8.1. I fired up Flipboard and started reading about all the stuff that happened throughout the day.

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My Dell Venue 8 Pro also has Microsoft Office. So that means PowerPoint presentations, Word docs, and even OneNote notebooks will all appear on my HDTV and project my screen.

Overall, it was really easy to get screen mirroring working on the Roku 3. If you have a Roku 3 or Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version) you should give this a try from one of your Miracast-enabled Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. You can provide Roku with feedback on the beta feature here.

You can also download the Roku app for Windows and Windows Phone that lets you control your Roku player right from your device. Download the Roku app from the Windows Store here and from the Windows Phone Store here.