Google today made a host of announcements that provide a good look at the future of Android development. The company is releasing three core sets of tools: a developer preview of Jetpack Compose; expanded APIs for Android Jetpack; and Android Studio 4 in Canary. Google believes these will provide developers with a more complete experience when writing apps for Android.
Google says its push for modern Android development was inspired by feedback from developers. While many developers are pleased with Google's general level of openness, Google says that some would prefer to see Google recommend best practices — and ensure those best practices are also the easiest way of doing things.
To start, Google is increasing its commitment to Kotlin, Java, and C++. For example, Google is investing in D8 and R8 for Kotlin and Java, as well as tuning the ART runtime to improve compile speeds.
Kotlin has been a hit, according to Google, and is already being used by 60% of the top 1,000 apps in the Play Store. The key here is that Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java. Google is offering an Associate Android Developer Certification in Kotlin that developers can earn for $99.
Jetpack is on deck for all sorts of new developer goodies. For example, Google released a penultimate version of its benchmarking library for measuring app performance. It showed off viewbinding, which it says is an easier way to access views from your code. And Google said its CameraX tool will become available in beta starting in December. CameraX, announced at Google I/O earlier this year, simplifies the process of creating third-party camera apps that function across a wide range of devices.
The Jetpack Compose Developer Preview launches today, as well, and should help developers dress up their apps so they look and work natively with the Android platform. Google is developing Jetpack itself in the open, in AOSP. It has improved APIs across the board and hopes that app developers will dive right in and provide feedback.
Android Studio 4 Canary, available starting today, works in the Jetpack Compose tool and includes Java desugaring and a motion editor.
On the security front, Google claims it has made a lot of progress. The company has spent the better part of this year improving its detection tools so it can root rotten apps out of the Play Store. By finding and banning copy-cat and malicious apps, the Play Store is the safest environment for developers to distribute their apps, as well as the safest place for people to download them. Google paid particular attention to apps meant for families and children and tamped down what sensitive information apps are allowed to access.
Last, Google has made it easier to test app bundles. Internal app sharing allows developers to share app builds as easily as an APK. Signed test versions and version codes are a thing of the past. Moreover, developers can take advantage of offline delivery.
As always, Google wants to hear from developers so it can continue to refine these tools.