Google Releases Final Android O Developer Preview

Google today made what it calls the "final preview" of Android O available to application developers. This new build carries with it all the bits and pieces developers need to make their apps fully Android O capable.

Android O is on deck for full release later this summer, according to Google, which means it's time to ensure your apps are prepared for the next version of Android now. With today's release, there are no more excuses: Google has assembled all the pieces of the Android O puzzle for developers and it's time to fit everything together.

To start, Android O Developer Preview 4 has all the final system behaviors up and running. That means all the new User Interface elements, such as picture-in-picture and notification dots, are fully functional. Further, Preview 4 has the latest bug fixes and optimizations, and carries over the final set of APIs that Google released back in June. Google says it made incremental updates to the Android O SDK and Android Emulator, and will make these available to developers in the next day or so. Developers will find a new version of the Android Testing Support Library with brand new tools such as Android Test Orchestrator, Multiprocess Espresso, and others.

Google points out that there's a strong enthusiast community surrounding the latest versions of Android. For example, owners of devices such as the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, and Nexus 6p and Nexus 5x smartphones are those most active when it comes to downloading applications, discovering new content, and, most importantly, making purchases. Google believes its key developers adopt Android O's new features, which also include improved shortcut pinning, downloadable fonts, autosizing textview, adaptive icons, background execution limits, and autofill, as early adopters will be looking to put them to the test.

"Enhancing your apps with Android O features can help you drive engagement with users, offer new interactions, give them more control and security, and improve performance," said Dave Burke, VP of Engineering, in a blog post.  

One benefit of taking advantage of some new features? Smaller APK sizes. Putting the latest APIs (Level 26) to use can shrink app downloads to the minimum possible, which is a proven way to increase installations.

Android Studio 3.0 may still be in canary form, but Google still suggests developers take advantage of the new Platform to create their Android O app. In particular, it tackles Instant Apps, XML Fonts, and adaptive icons within Android O. Google is pushing a new build of Android Studio to the canary channel today. It includes improved app performance profiling tools, the Kotlin programming language, and Gradle build optimizations.

Similarly, Google is nudging developers to grab the new stable version of Android Support Library 26.0.0 and update their projects' compileSdkVersion to API 26 to compile against the official Android O APIs. It goes without saying that developers should also update their apps' targetSdkVersion to API 26 to opt-in and test with Android O's refreshed UI elements.

The Google Play Store is ready and waiting for API 26 and Android O apps. Developers can publish APKs in the production, beta, or alpha channels.

As always, Google is pushing Android O Developer Preview 4 as an over-the-air update to those already enrolled in the Android Beta program. Individual system images are available for download, as well. In addition to the Pixel and Nexus handsets mentioned above, Android O will run on the Pixel C tablet and Nexus Player set top box.


Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Apple Finalizes iOS and Tasks Developers to Prep Apps