Google has made a second preview of Android 7.1 available to mobile app developers ahead of the platform's wider release. Along with the new build of Android 7.1, Google made some minor adjustments to the Android SDK and Android Studio. Developers should put the new tools to use in finalizing their apps for Android 7.1.
This update to Android will bring features from the Pixel smartphones to Nexus and other devices. Google says there are no user-facing differences between the first preview and this new preview, but the new preview is cleaner and includes important optimizations.
Google is calling Developer Preview 2 a release candidate for Android 7.1.1, so it is ideal for developers for testing purposes. It carries over all the developer features and APIs from the first preview, but the SDK build and platform tools in Android Studio, the Android 7.1.1 platform, and the API Level 25 emulator system images are all fresh.
Google suggests developers get started by updating Android Studio to version 2.2.2 and then download the API Level 25 platform. With these steps complete, developers should be able to recompile their apps and test against any new APIs. The APIs, which cover app shortcuts, round icon resources, and image keyboard support, among others, were made available earlier this year. Google recommends developers update their app's targetSdkVersion to 25, too.
The app shortcut and circular launcher icon tools are a snap to use in Android Studio 2.2.2's new built-in Image Asset Studio. These are controlled via API Level 25 and put icons in compliance with the new Google Pixel Launcher. Developers interested in image keyboard support can make use of Google's Messenger and Keyboard apps to preview system images.
Don't forget to put Firebase's new tools to use. Google recently updated the FIrebase Test Lab for Android, which allows developers to run tests in the cloud at no charge while Android 7.1.1. Is still in preview. The virtual emulator includes an automated crawler that allows devs to test their apps without writing test scripts. Solid!
Further, Google now permits developers to seed alpha and beta versions of their apps through the Google Play Store. The Google Play Developer Console is a handy tool to push test apps to people already using Android 7.1.
Last, the Android 7.1 Developer Preview 2 is compatible with a wider selection of devices. It can be installed on the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C, and now the Nexus 9 tablet, too. Google has already made the appropriate system images available for these devices and is currently pushing the builds over-the-air. Google expects to roll out Android 7.1.1 to the full lineup of supported devices -- including the Pixel and Pixel XL -- in early December.