Do You Develop for Android? Google Just Updated Nearly Everything

In addition to debuting new APIs, Google has refreshed just about all its developer tools and services. It you're using Android Studio, Kotlin, or any of the dozens of Android developer features, it's time to download the latest bits. Here's what's new.

First, Android Jetpack. This is a brand new. Google describes Android Jetpack as "the next generation of Android components." It merges the benefits of the Support Library with Kotlin and other components to make it quick and easy to build high-quality apps. "Android Jetpack manages activities like background tasks, navigation, and lifecycle management, so you can eliminate boilerplate code and focus on what makes your app great," explained Google. Android Jetpack components include WorkManager, Paging, Navigation, and Slices.

Google debuted support for Kotlin last year. Since then Google says 95% of developers exclaim they are very happy using Kotlin to create Android apps. This is evidenced in the increase of Play Store apps using Kotlin, which grew by a factor of six over the last year. With this in mind, Google improved the Kotlin developer experience by optimizing it for Jetpack. Android KTX launched this week as part of Kotlin to further speed up app development. Google says Kotlin makes advancements to Lint Support, R8, the Android Runtime, and Android Studio. More Kotlin code snippets are available in official documentation, as well. Documentation on Kotlin and Android KTX is available here.

A new canary build of Android Studio is available. Android Studio 3.2 Canary packs in the new Android Jetpack functions, including a visual navigation editor, and new code refactoring tools. Google says the canary release includes build tools for creating Android App Bundles in the new format, and a snapshots function in the Android Emulator ensures fast start times and smaller APKs. Android Studio 3.2 Canary is available here.

The Android App Bundle is a new publishing format that Google says can dramatically reduce app sizes. When using Android Studio, developers can build an app bundle that contains everything their apps news, such as languages, screen size adjustments, and hardware architecture. Then Google Play's new Dynamic Delivery will work some real magic. It only delivers the code and resources needed to match individual devices, rather than a large smattering of devices. This will lead to smaller install sizes on the Play Store, more rapid downloads and installs, and less space required on end-user devices. Google suggested apps can see between 10% and 60% APK size reductions using this tool.

Google refreshed the Google Play Console with new features that should help improve app performance. Google says it tweaked the dashboard, statistics, Android vitals, prelaunch reports, acquisition reports, and subscriptions all to provide developers with more insight into their app's performance in the Play Store. 

Games can now take advantage of Google Play Instant. Google says all game developers can build instant apps, which run on Android devices without then for a download or install. The idea is to let people preview apps before committing to downloading them. GOogle sans a new Unity plugin and added integration with Cocos creator should help game developers tackle Google Play Instant and get their games the visibility they deserve.

Last up are Slices and Actions. Slices are new UI templates that reveal "a rich array of dynamic, and interactive content from your app, across Android and within Google surfaces." Google says Slices can include live data, scrolling content, deep-linking and other glanceable information that also offer interactive controls like toggles and sliders. Actions are a new way to make apps more accessible. App Actions appear based on usage and relevance across multiple Google and Android surfaces. The idea is to make your app available in more places and make it easier to use. This is in preview. 

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.
 

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