Google says Android Studio 2.3 is all about the little things. The company took pains to clean up its Android app developer platform while also introducing a small number of new features and tools. The result, hopes Google, will be happier developers and better apps for Android smartphones.
"We are most excited about the quality improvements in Android Studio 2.3 but you will find a small set of new features in this release that integrate into each phase of your development flow," explained Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android, in a blog post.
Google has tweaked things throughout the entire process of writing apps in Android Studio 2.3. For example, updated WebP support should help during the design phase, while a new App Link Assistant can help during the development phase. Once you're ready to deploy, the improved Instant Run experience and Android Emulator both provided a smoother experience. Here are the nitty-gritty details.
First up, design. WebP support is the big one here. This tool lets developers save space in their APK. Specifically, Android Studio 2.3 can push out WebP images in a lossless format that is 25% smaller than PNG. Moreover, a wizard converts PNG to lossless the WebP format with a single click.
Google says the Android Studio 2.3 has a stable version of the ConstraintLayout. This tool allows you to chain two or more Android views bi-directionally to form a group in one dimension. This should be most beneficial when looking to fill up space. The Layout Editor Palette now lets developers search for, sort, and filter widgets for various layouts and includes a handy preview. The Layout Favorites editor makes it possible to save attributes on a per-widget basis.
Once you've reached the development phase, the new Lint Baseline tool in Android Studio 2.3 lets you set unresolved lint warnings as a baseline. This means Lint will only report new issues moving forward, which may be particularly helpful for those with legacy lint issues still in their apps. The App Link Assistant lets developers create new intent filters for URLs within their apps, such as their own website. It also makes it possible to test easily test and debut links and other URLs. An update to all templates adopts the ConstraintLayout tool mentioned above. Last in the development phase, Android Studio 2.3 includes the IntelliJ 2016.2 release with an new inspection window and notifications system.
When building your app, be sure to take advantage of the improvements to Instant Run. Google says Instant Run in Android Studio 2.3 is much more reliable. The Run action now causes applications to restart in order to reflect code changes. Moreover, the new Apply Changes action can swap the code even when the app is still running. The Instant Run tool is also less laggy. Google made improvements to Build Cache, too, which is now enabled by default. It should lead to faster and cleaner builds.
Last, when testing apps, be sure to look for the new Android Emulator Copy & Paste tool, which Google has brought back thanks to user feedback. The emulator once again includes a shared clipboard with the host operating system. This allows developers to copy and paste text between both environments. The Android Emulator Command Line Tool has been moved from the SDK Tools folder to a separate emulator directory. Google believes this should make it easier to find.
Android Studio 2.3 is already available for download. Developers who are already using Android Studio 2.2 should find the new version through their in-app update tool, but it can be downloaded separately here. Google suggests developers also update to the Android Gradle plugin version 2.3.0 in any current projects.