OK, folks. It's time to take the wraps off the latest and greatest version of the Android Central App! We've been testing this internally for a little while now, and for a little bit with a few close friends. Now it's time to unleash it on the public.
So what's new in v1.3? Quite a lot, actually, which is what took us a little longer to get the update pushed out. But we think it's worth it.
Keep on readin' on, and we'll walk you through the changes.
The tl;dr version
Look, we're excited about this update. So we're going to explain everything below. For those of you who just have to have the bullet points, and only the bullet points, here you go:
- Added forum search
- Added forum thread view options (go to first unread page vs. first post)
- Integrated the new Google navigation drawer — we'll implement some performance improvements to it in the next version.
- Integrated YouTube Android Player API
- Support for Talk Mobile articles
- Added support for Quantcast and Flurry analytics — this required the addition of the "Access Network State" permission.
- Miscellaneous bug fixes
- Previous changelogs at http://phon.es/achange
We've added the new Android navigation drawer
This is one of the newer and more important design cues Google has rolled out this year, and it's now in our app. It's got the telltale "hamburger" button there in the top left. You can still tap it (and Lloyd) to open the drawer, or just swipe from the left edge of your phone.
It's worth noting that we're still doing some fine-tuning here, but we wanted to go ahead and get it pushed out. On some phones it's great. On a few, we see some things we'd like to work on. Look for performance improvements in a future update to the app.
You can now search the forums, and return to where you (mostly) left off
Long requested, finally added. You can easily switch the results from full threads to individual posts, and your search history is available as well, so you don't have to type the same thing over and over again. (Note the "Clear history" button at the top right of that screen.)
We've also added the ability to return to the first unread post of a thread instead of just the first page. The downside is that because we had to hack in a workaround, it doesn't quite sync right. Here's how our developer puts it:
Initially I wanted to be able to sync with the server (on the server side, they use Tapatalk to power the forums), however I found that for last unread post the Tapatalk API can at best only give you page resolution of last read post. That is, it will tell me that the last read post was on page X, but not which post. So when I implemented this what would happen is you would open a thread for the first time, be on page 1 at the top, close the thread, open it again, then you're on page 2 at the top, close it, open it you're on page 3 at the top, etc.
I didn't really think this was a very good experience, and wanted the app to have the ability to jump to the true last unread post when opened. So that's actually what I ended up implementing entirely in the app. But the downside to this approach is that it's not in sync with the server.
So, yeah. Better than nothing. We'll keep working on that as much as we can, and hopefully Tapatalk will help out on its end.
You can now watch YouTube videos within the app itself
Love this feature! Now, instead of getting dumped into the YouTube app whenever you want to watch a video — either in a blog post or in our video section — you can view it directly in the app. It's quick. It's easy. It works in portrait and landscape. And, if you look in the settings, you can tell the app to always play videos full-screen in landscape, if you prefer.
Plus, this means you can watch us live on Friday afternoons as we record the Greatest Android Podcast in the World, all from the app!
Talk Mobile articles now ... work!
Look, the irony of this not working before was not lost on us. But the fact is that you can now read — and comment on — our Talk Mobile series from the Android Central app. And it looks pretty sweet, if I do say so myself.
Added Quantcast and Flurry analytics
We want to make this app as good as we possibly can. And one of the best ways to do that is through anonymous analytics. Google Play has its own, and they're super-handy. In v1.3, we've added two more as well: Quantcast and Flurry.
We've used Quantcast on the traditional web side of things forever (http://www.quantcast.com/androidcentral.com) as sort of a transparent look at traffic. Like Google Play's own analytics, Flurry gives us an anonymous look at how and where our app is being used, and it'll help us make the app better. More than 300,000 apps use Flurry analytics. You can find out more at https://www.flurry.com/analytics.html.
One thing to note here is that adding these analytics required us to add the "Access Network State" permission — and that means you'll have to manually update the app in Google Play. (If you have any questions about this or the analytics, hit us up in the comments of this post and we'll explain things further.)
Finally, a word (or two) about our beta program
I mentioned that we tested the app for a little bit with some "close friends." By that, we mean 1,000 or so beta testers. We've since closed the beta program to new testers. If you previously had joined the beta group but had issues downloading the beta version of the app, I've written up a few thoughts on the process here.
The long and the short of it is you need to remember to be signed in with the proper Google account — the same account you used to join the Google Group has to be used when you opt-in to the beta track.
For everyone who got in, thanks! And double that for the folks who actively helped test the update. As you can see, we're a little excited for it. And for future updates to come. (And if you want a look back at previous updates, check out our full changelog here.)