[Architecture] A few notes from Google I/O....

Tony Atkins tony at raisingthefloor.org
Fri May 20 08:39:48 UTC 2016

Hi, All:

Colin pinged me about my impression of Google I/O, which took place this
week.  I am finally catching up on the blogs and announcements, and thought
I'd share a few things with the group.

First, I wanted to point out the accessibility improvements in  Android N.
First, the user side:


In this release, they will add a first class screen magnification option,
which works with all existing apps.  The welcome/setup screen also now
includes controls to turn on a range of accessibility tools including the
magnification controls, Talkback (their screen reader), and other options.

There are also improvements on the developer side:


In Lollipop, they added support for physical switches.  With Android N,
they are adding a new API that should make it easier to build eye-tracking
software and other alternatives to using the touchscreen.

They have added the concept of  an "Instant App", which is a native app
that can be downloaded and run without installing it:


Their demo is of a user clicking a link on a web site, being presented with
the option to view the content with the site's app, and then having the
site's app load the content.

For my own app, I have been thinking of create a catalog of picture board
configurations online, targeted to different communities, for example,
children with Autism and adults with difficulty speaking have very
different needs.

By configuring the app to handle links to a particular site, I can set up a
pipeline where clicking a particular link in a web catalog results in a
configuration change in the app.  This is already possible for users who
have the app installed.  "Instant apps" would let users who are deciding
whether to use the app at all try it out with a particular configuration in
a single click.

To avoid making a user click through a bunch of permissions checks,
"instant" apps are sandboxed.  I couldn't find details about what APIs are
exposed within the sandbox, but I have signed up for the developer beta for
my own app, and will share what I learn with anyone who is interested.

I will have the Android N preview with me in Toronto if anyone wants to try
it out.


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