Android O will Improve SMS Authentication for Apps

Each new version of Android brings some major changes to the platform, but there are also a ton of minor changes that aren’t nearly as publicized. One such change coming to Android O is an improvement in the way SMS authentication is done by applications. Android O introduces a dedicated API that applications can use to retrieve verification codes sent through SMS, so applications will no longer have to request the SMS permission.

SMS Authentication in Android O

In order to appreciate this subtle change, let’s recap how applications use SMS for authentication prior to Android O. Certain applications (primarily messaging ones) ask you to verify your phone number by entering a verification code. You can either enter this time-sensitive code manually or grant the application the permission to read your SMS messages so it can automatically find and enter the code for you.

SMS Authentication Telegram SMS Authentication Whatsapp SMS Authentication Messenger

Granting an app READ_SMS permission

The problem with this solution is two-fold. For starters, many applications never really need to read your SMS messages outside of this context, so it seems unnecessary to grant them permission to read your entire SMS history. Second, these one-time SMS verification codes add needless clutter to your messaging inbox.

By introducing an API, Android O will solve both of these issues. Applications can now indicate to the system that they are expecting to receive an SMS verification code shortly. They do this by creating a PendingIntent of the type createAppSpecificSmsToken:

Create a single use app specific incoming SMS request for the the calling package. This method returns a token that if included in a subsequent incoming SMS message will cause intent to be sent with the SMS data. The token is only good for one use, after an SMS has been received containing the token all subsequent SMS messages with the token will be routed as normal. An app can only have one request at a time, if the app already has a request pending it will be replaced with a new request.

When the PendingIntent is created, Android will start looking at any incoming SMS for a particular 11 character long token. When the SMS containing the token is received, this method sends the token directly to the application without the application ever reading an SMS. The SMS that contains the token is never sent into the inbox while this PendingIntent is active. Only once Android has sent the Intent to the requesting app will subsequent SMS messages be routed back into the user’s inbox.

Although this is a minor quality-of-life change that will mostly only be appreciated by developers (one less permission = one less headache in potential reviews), it’s great to see Google continue to add features such as this.

Google introduces Project Treble to solve Android update woes

Updates are far and away the biggest concern with Android as a mobile operating system, and anything that’s not a Nexus or Pixel struggles to get the latest version of Android in a timely manner. Some manufacturers are better than others, but there’s almost no device maker that pushes out brand new OS updates within […]

Come comment on this article: Google introduces Project Treble to solve Android update woes

Android O’s Project Treble could lead to faster OS updates for smartphones

Some Android smartphones, even ones that are consider flagship devices, can be slow in receiving big OS updates. Today, Google announced an effort designed to speed up that device update process called Project Treble. It will be a part of the upcoming Android O operating system and in fact is already included in the current developer preview.

See also:

How stable is the first Android O Developer Preview?

April 6, 2017

Google states that in current and previous versions of Android, any updates for the OS are first sent to silicon companies like Qualcomm, MediaTek and others, who make changes to the OS so it can work on their hardware. Then that version is sent to device makers like Samsung, LG, HTC and others, who make their own changes for their specific products. If a device is tied to a carrier, such as AT&T or Verizon, the OS update must then make their way to those companies for final changes and testing. This is why Android updates from Google can sometimes take months, or longer, to reach your smartphone.

Google says having such an interface will give device makers direct access to the hardware-specific parts of Android O.

With the launch of Android O, Google wanted to cut that update time with Project Treble. It has done this with the creation of a new vendor interface that will be between the Android OS framework and the vendor implementation. What does this mean? Google says having such an interface will give device makers direct access to the hardware-specific parts of Android O. In theory, this should allow those companies to update their Android smartphones and tablets directly, without the need to go through their silicon partners first.

In addition to Project Treble, Google is also working with its Android device hardware partners to directly implement any of their code changes into the common Android Open Source Project (AOSP) codebase. This means that when a new version of Android O is released, those code changes won’t need to be patched by those companies.

All of this sounds extremely promising, especially if you buy a phone and then have to wait a long time for promised OS updates. Hopefully, these new moves by Google will speed up this process for Android O device owners. We will learn a lot more about Android O next week as part of the 2017 Google I/O developer conference.

Google’s Project Treble Modularizes Android so OEMs can Update Devices Faster

One of the major criticisms of Android is fragmentation of software updates. To this day, many devices have to wait several months after their Google device counterparts just to receive the next major version of Android. For instance, Android Nougat was officially released in August of last year, but it has taken OEMs months on end to roll out Android 7.X to their users. As of this month, only approximately 7% of all Android devices are running Android Nougat. In an effort to combat the lengthy period of time between releasing new versions of Android and OEMs updating their devices, Google has announced the biggest change to the low-level system architecture of Android to date – Project Treble.

Project Treble – Modularizing Android to Improve Software Updates

First, in order to understand what it is that Project Treble exactly does, it’s important for you to understand the general update process involved with each iteration of Android. The process can be summarized into approximately 5 or so steps, as such:

  1. AOSP Release – Google publishes the source code of the new Android release
  2. Booting/Hardware Compatibility – Silicon manufacturers (Qualcomm, Samsung, Hisilicon, MediaTek, etc.) modify the source code so Android can boot on their chips, and all hardware on the chip functions as expected
  3. OEM Modifications – This modified source is then given to device manufacturers (OEMS such as Samsung, LG, Huawei/Honor, OnePlus, HTC, etc.) so they can modify the source to include their own software.
  4. QA/Testing – OEMs undergo testing phases of the software internally, and also test their software with their carrier partners.
  5. General Release – the update is eventually made available to end users over several weeks through OTA updates

Google is generally very quick to release the source code of each new Android version, and even shares their code privately with some of their partners so they can get started to immediately update their code base. Google has no control over how long steps 4 and 5 take, but they’ve figured out a way to reduce the time spent during step 2. The team behind Android is “re-architecting” Android at a low-level in order to make it easier for silicon manufacturers to update and test their code.

To that end, Google is introducing what they’re called the Vendor Interface. This Vendor Interface is similar in function to the Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) and the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), both of which ensure that OEMs know exactly what they need to implement in order for their devices to meet the requirements necessary to run Google Play Services on the latest version of Android. Google is modularizing Android so that the Android OS framework is kept separate from the device-specific, lower-level software written by the silicon manufacturers. The Vendor Interface is validated by the Vendor Test Suite (VTS), so silicon manufacturers know exactly what requirements need to be met in order for their chips to support booting Android.

The main benefit of this change is that device makers (OEMs) can now choose to update their phones by updating the Android OS framework without having to wait for silicon manufacturers to update their vendor implementation code. While this move, if made earlier, would unlikely have affected whether or not devices on the MSM8974 receive the Android 7.0 Nougat update (as the issue there stems from the CDD requiring either the Vulkan Graphics API or GLES 3.1, which IS something that OEMs would have to wait for silicon manufacturers to bring GPU support for in their source code), this move should still significantly reduce the time it takes for major Android updates to reach the hands of consumers.

By how much this move will reduce the update lag time, we can’t exactly predict. Microsoft solved this issue a long time ago with hardware abstraction of Windows drivers, so we’re hoping that this major low-level change brings Android somewhat closer to Windows in that vein. The new Project Treble architecture is already running on the Google Pixel and Pixel XL on the Android O Developer Preview, and the full documentation for the project will be made available with the launch of Android O later this summer.

Unfortunately, that means that for the vast majority of existing devices, you won’t be seeing the fruits of the Android team’s labor in Project Treble. It will be a few years before we can truly see whether or not this move has had a significant effect on reducing the time you have to wait to get the next flavor of Android. Nevertheless, this is an exciting development for Android fans, as it addresses one of the core problems with the operating system that many of us come to the XDA-Developers forums to address: software updates. We hope it lives up to the hype.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Google IO 2017: All the announcements in one place!

Google I/O 2017, this year’s installment of Google’s annual developer conference, is starting today. It will feature a vast array of announcements from Google divisions from across the spectrum, Android being just one of them. We won’t get updates on every single Google project that’s made news or been leaked over the preceding year, and while the announcements that are made will primarily be targeted at developers, there will be plenty to keep regular folks interested too. That’s because whether you’re a dev or not, I/O is a precious sneak peek inside the sprawling Google empire and all the cool things the company is working on. And just like every year: we can’t wait.

Google I/O 2017 keynote live stream

You can watch the opening keynote of Google I/O 2017 right here! Sundar Pichai and other top Google executives are expected to give us an update on all of Google’s top projects, plus a preview of what to expect over the next year from the Googleverse. Check out the live video below and join us as we dissect all the exciting announcements.

Google I/O keynote live updates

We’re expecting a deluge of news and announcements from Google today, and we know it can be hard to keep up. If you can’t watch the live stream or just want a digest, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll update this post often with the key announcements from Google I/O 2017. Stay tuned!

  • Sundar Pichai took the stage. He opened with the announcement that Google’s products have over one billion active users. Google Photos users upload 1.2 billion photos daily. Google Maps users navigate over one billion miles per day. Android now has over two billion active devices. YouTube viewers view over one billion hours of video per day.
  • They also announced that Smart Reply is now officially rolling out to Gmail users starting today.
  • Sundar then announced Google Lens. It’s a set of vision-based computer capabilities that will show up on Google Photos and Google Assistant first. It’ll be able to recognize what things are in real time or in photos uploaded to the Photos service. It can even automatically connect to routers. You can also look at restaurants and it’ll just know where you are and what you need to see.
  • Sundar briefly discussed some huge things in the medical community, including diabetes treatments, breast cancer detection, and more. There was also discussion about how neural networks are being used at Google to train other neural networks. Inception!
  • Google Assistant is currently active on over 100 million devices. It has also become more conversational, more available, and more ready to help. It has also gotten better at multiple people interacting with Assistant on the same device. Today, Google added the ability to type to your Google Assistant if you want to. This is mostly for your privacy when using Assistant in public. It will also have Google Lens integration (see our paragraph about that above)!
  • Google announced today that Google Assistant is available on iPhone! Additionally, the new Google Assistant SDK allows any manufacturer to include Assistant in virtually any smart machine. That includes drink mixers, refrigerators, washing machines, or whatever. It will also roll out in several new languages, including Brazilian, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Korean, French, and more over the course of this year!
  • Starting today, Actions on Google will be supporting transactions, including payments, identity, notifications, receipts, and even account creation. It will also be on more platforms! Valerie from Google placed an entire order to Panera for delivery to Google I/O with just her voice.
  • This summer, Google Home will be launched in Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan.
  • Additionally, Google Home will start having Proactive Assistance. It will let you know about random things so that you can alter your life accordingly. Google also announced hands-free calling on Google Home and it’s free! Rishi from Google showed this by calling his mom at Google I/O 2017. Google Home can also recognize the voice to call the right contact. Hands-free calling will roll out to the US over the next few months. It should work with every phone number.
  • Google announced partnerships with Spotify, Deezer, and SoundCloud so that they work better with Google Home. They also announced Bluetooth support on Google Home. There are also tons of new video partners, including HBO Now, to make video streaming to your TV even easier. Google Home can also now send info to your phone for those tasks that are easier to do on a screen, like viewing directions.
  • There are currently over 50 million devices connected with Chromecast. Starting today, those devices will be updated to show Google Assistant information on the screen when you want it to. In short, visual responses are rolling out to practically any device with Chromecast, Android, or Google Assistant installed.
  • Google Photos will soon bet able to remove obstructions from photos. For instance, it can remove a fence if you want to just have the image behind the fence.
  • Starting today, Google Photos will have Suggested Sharing. It will find the best photos using machine learning. It will then suggest that you share them to relevant people. Usually people who were at the event, your other family members, and more.  There will be a sharing tab to find your shares easier. It’ll send an SMS or email to people who don’t Google Photos. Google Photos can then allow people to add new photos to the shared album quickly to create a more complete photo album.
  • In the coming weeks, Google Photos will roll out Shared Libraries. It allows you to create libraries with certain topics. You can share libraries with other people. For instance, you can share all the photos of the kids with your husband or wife automatically. They can then save photos they like directly to their library. People you share with can also have photos automatically added to their library if they want to. Those photos will act as though they were photos you took, even if you obtained them via a shared library.
  • Google announced the launch of Photo Books. Google Photos will select the best photos from the photos you choose and then ship you an actual, for real book of photos. It comes in hardcover and soft cover. It’ll cost between $10 and $20. It’ll be launched in the US today with rolling out expected this week. More countries are coming in the future.
  • Additionally, Google Lens will be integrated into Google Photos. It’ll be able to identify landmarks, buildings, art, events, and more. It’ll also be able to find phone numbers to businesses from photos, websites, and more. Google Lens in Google Photos is rolling out later this year.
  • YouTube watch time on TV is growing by 90% per year! Starting today, YouTube will begin to support 360-degree video (including live video) on television. You’ll be able to use your TV remote (on smart TVs) to move around and see the video. This will work on any TV connected YT app, including game consoles.
  • The number of people live streaming has grown 400% over the last year. In response, Google has announced Super Chat. It’s an improved live chat for live streamers. You’ll be able to donate money to the live streamer and also have your comment featured on the live chat so the streamer can see it more easily. A new API will also allow Super Chat users to affect things in real life. To demonstrate, they had the Slow Mo Guys do a live stream. When she donated $500, the Slow Mo Guys were pelted by 500 water balloons. It was hilarious.
  • It was announced that there were 50 million Android TV activates every month! Chromebooks now comprise about 60% of all laptops sold to K-12 programs. There were 82 billion app and game installs from Google Play since the last Google I/O.  Along with the aforementioned two billion active phones, it’s been a big year for Android!
  • Android O is definitely getting tons of new features and fun stuff. We discussed it quite a bit in our developer preview quick look! In addition to all that info, picture-in-picture is definitely coming to Android O. Additionally, notifications will now be usable when long touching the app icon. Smart Text Selection will allow for instant text selection for things such as addresses, business names, and phone numbers more quickly.
  • TensorFlow Lite will allow app developers to access some awesome neural networking features in Android. Additionally, and the second generation of Cloud TPUs were announced!
  • Play Console Dashboards was announced. It allows developers to better see what’s causing crashes, bad battery, resource hogging, and more! Google Play Protect is also included in Android O. It scans devices, the Play Store, and more to find, disable, and remove malware and other bad apps.
  • Starting today, Kotlin will be an officially supported language in Android. It’s a new programming language.
  • It was announced today that there are more Android users in India than there are in the United States.
  • Today, Google announced Android Go. It optimizes the latest Android releases to run on low end phones. It then includes a scaled back version of Google Apps for less resource use. The Google Play Store will then show apps optimized for Android Go. That also includes data management right in the Quick Settings. Some apps, like the new YouTube Go, will also allow for offline sharing without using mobile data.
  • There is now a new initiative called Building for Billions. Developers can get into by making apps that are less than 10MB in size, can be used offline, and have enough battery and resource optimization. These apps will be mostly used on Android Go phones (less than 1GB of RAM). More information is coming later this year.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ will include Daydream support starting this summer. Apparently, an upcoming LG flagship will include Daydream support as well!
  • Google announced that standalone VR headsets are coming. It’s a standalone device that just works. No PC, no smartphone required. It’ll be an Android powered device made specifically for a VR experience. Partners include Qualcomm, HTC, and Lenovo. Devices will come to market later this year.
  • A new AR thing called Visual Positioning Service will allow you to navigate through things like stores to find the exact products you’re looking for. As you may have guessed, this is also part of Google Lens. Many of these features will be included in a new Google Expeditions update (the app) later this year!
  • Google is apparently tackling job search. Some new features in Search will let you check out new job postings based on various categories, full or part time, job titles, and more. This new initiative is called Google for Jobs. When you’re enrolled in Google for Jobs, you can apply for jobs with one click once your information is there. It’ll roll out to the US in the coming weeks with more countries in the future.
  • That’s it for the keynote! Stay tuned to Android Authority for even more Google I/O 2017 coverage over the coming days!

google io 2016 6

I/O 17 is nearly here and a few things have happened of note in the last little while, some of which we might see more of at the Googleplex. First of all, Google’s mysterious new Fuchsia OS and Armadillo tablet UI have appeared, which we’re hoping to get some more news on next week. Secondly, Google added the second wave of sessions to the I/O schedule, giving us a much clearer picture of the major trends for the event. Thirdly, the Android Beta Program officially shut down in anticipation of the Android O beta which will undoubtedly be released during the developer conference. Read on for more!

Google I/O 2017 dates and location

Google I/O 2017 takes place between May 17-19, once again at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California. If you don’t know the location, it’s right next to the Googleplex, covering the amphitheatre and several outdoor car parks. Last year the event suffered some criticism due to a lack of overflow areas, adequate seating, shade and so on. We expect this year will be much better organized.

For the second time since 2013, Google I/O will be a full three-day event, with the all-important keynote kicking things off, followed a developer keynote and then breakout sessions, code labs, 1:1 time with various Google teams, product and software demos, presentations, and much more. Even though some chided Google last year for doing a “Burning Man” event with very few hands-on opportunities for the announcements made, it was still a ton of fun, and we expect this year to be no different. Just with more shade.

Google I/O 2017 – what can we expect?

For many folks, the keynote is pretty much the whole draw of the conference. After all, this is the biggest presentation and sets the stage for the whole event. This year’s keynote starts at 10 AM on May 17 and, in two hours, will cover all the major things we’ll be seeing in finer detail over the coming days (we’ll share the livestream link as soon as we know it and remember to keep an eye out for the #io17 hashtag). All the major sessions will be live streamed and later posted to YouTube so you can catch up any time you like.

What exactly do we expect to hear about during that keynote? Good question. Obviously Android O will be a big part of it, including the recently announced Project Trebel. For those that haven’t heard about it yet, Treble aims to help speed up update cycles by making it possible for device makers to directly access the hardware-specific parts of Android O. In theory, this should allow those companies to update their Android smartphones and tablets directly, without the need to go through their silicon partners first. In other words, it’s one less hoop to cross, and should result in at least a bit of a faster updating process. For more details, head here. 

Beyond Treble? Google also recently announced Android Auto is coming directly to cars. Unlike earlier solutions that kept the Android Auto experience on the phone and only linked up with a car’s infotainment system, Audi and Volvo’s will now be Android-powered themselves. We expect to hear more about these plans, and perhaps we might even learn about other potential auto makers that are aim to get onboard.

Honestly, from what we hear, while there may be a few hardware surprises (new Android Wear watches perhaps? or the rumored stand-alone VR headset?) this show is shaping up to be very software-centric with Google particularly taking an interest in pushing forward its AI efforts. One thing is sure, Google tends to be much better at keeping secrets than its OEM partners and so there is a lot about Google I/O we still don’t know about with any certainty.

Google I/O 2017 sessions – what’s on the agenda?

Google always trickles out Google I/O session details in waves. The first and second waves have already hit, with a clear focus on Firebase, Progressive Web Apps, Accelerated Mobile Pages, Google Assistant and the Mobile Web. Other common threads in the schedule include teasers for Android O to help developers get ahead of the curve in targeting their apps for the new API level, as well as updates on Android TV, Android Wear and Android Instant Apps. AR and VR are key focial points and even audio gets a special look in.


  • Keynote
  • Developer keynote
  • What’s New in Android
  • Mobile Web: State of the Union
  • Building Apps for the Google Assistant
  • Android Wear: What’s New
  • What’s New in Google Play
  • What’s New in Android Security
  • Home Automation with Google Assistant
  • Future of Audio and Video on the Web
  • Notifications UX: What’s New for Android O?
  • Android Apps for Chromebooks

The “What’s New in Android?” session is always high on our hit list, and not surprisingly, Android O gets a direct mention. Considering the timeline for Android O developer previews Google has already shared, we’ll likely get the second dev preview during I/O and the return of the Android Beta Program for those that like living on the tip of the Android spear. The listed streams currently available include Ads, Accessibility, Mobile Web, Firebase, Android, Google Assistant, Machine Learning and AI, VR, Design, IoT, Search and Google Play.

You can expect to hear plenty on Assistant, especially now that it has rolled out to third-party devices, in dedicated sessions called Home Automation with Google Assistant and Building Apps for the Google Assistant. Android O’s new notifications, shortcuts and launcher icons have two sessions, and we’re sure to hear more about picture-in-picture mode, peripheral support and Android O security improvements too.

The next phase of Daydream VR will be covered as well as a session on developing VR for the web via WebVR, plus it looks like we might finally get the official launch of Android apps on Chrome OS. There’s even rumors that a stand-alone Google-powered VR headset could be making an appearance at the conference — with a possible announcement during the Keynote, as mentioned above.

There’ll also be updates on Android Things, the 2017 Google Play Awards, the success of the Pixels, and much more, possibly including some new features for Google Home. We don’t see anything (yet) about Project Fi, but we’re hoping for some updates and expansion of the service.

What got announced at Google I/O 2016?

To quickly refresh your memory, the big announcements from last year’s Google I/O – some of which have very much taken over the Android discourse in the interim – included Google Assistant, Google Home, Allo and Duo, Android Instant Apps, Daydream VR, Android apps on Chrome OS, Project Ara (which got demoed and later scrapped entirely), Project Soli and Project Jacquard, Android Wear 2.0, Firebase and Android Studio 2.2, and the inaugural Google Play Awards. Android Auto was there, so was Project Loon, Android N showed up and so did Project Tango. If you want a refresher on all the Google I/O 2016 highlights just hit the link.

Google I/O 2017 tickets

As usual, Google held a glorified raffle for tickets to Google I/O 2017, with the “winners” able to purchase a ticket. This year, prices have gone up though: general admission tickets are $1,150 and academic tickets cost $375 (up from $900 and $300 respectively last year). The ticket application window ran from February 22 – 27 and the chosen few were notified via email on February 28.

The price increase could mean one of three things: a) it’s going to be an even bigger production than last year, b) the I/O “goodie bag” is making a return, or c) inflation. Google also offered developers the chance to win an all-expenses paid trip to Google I/O 2017 via its “Experiments Challenge” competition, whereby devs could create an experiment based around Android, Chrome or AI.

Don’t miss: All our Google I/O 2016 video coverage