Google's Jetpack Takes Flight with Bevy of New Libraries

Google recently overhauled Jetpack and added a variety of alpha, beta, and stable features to the developer toolset. Google says 11 new libraries are available within Jetpack to help app writers zoom through select processes as they create their apps. The idea, of course, is to make things as easy as possible. 

Jetpack originally arrived at Google I/O 2018. It is a collection of software components meant to simplify certain parts of app creation. Google says 800 of the top 1,000 apps in the Play Store use Jetpack to at least some degree. The latest additions from Google are a direct result of developer feedback.

First, the alpha channel. Here developers will find the CameraX API, as well as Livedata and LifeCycles, Benchmark, Security, ViewModel / SavedDate, and Viewpager2.

The CameraX API should eventually lead to better camera experiences within third-party apps. It relies on the camera2 code base and is backward compatible to Android 5 (API level 21). It allows third-party apps to tap into all the basic functions of the native camera app on any given device. Moreover, it supports advanced features such as Portrait, Night Mode, HDR, and Beauty filters via optional Extensions.

The LiveData and Lifecyle KTX now supports one-shot asynchronous operations. This is managed via Kotlin thanks to new coroutines that are lifecycle-aware. 

A Benchmark library lets developers quickly benchmark their app code right within Android Studio. Benchmarking is possible for apps written in Kotlin, Java, or native code. The goal here is to prevent the introduction of latency in the app code. Google says the library delivers consistent results. 

The Security library now automatically implements best practices to bolster the security of Android apps. It can balance the need for performance and security thanks to encryption, and can support a hardware-backed keystore or user presence for stricter applications, such as banking. 

Developers can now more easily save their UI data thanks to ViewModel with SavedState. Google says this of helpful in the event of a configuration change. It lets devs get rid of boilerplate code and still save and retrieve data thanks to these simple APIs. 

ViewPager2 is the last alpha-status tool. It is based on RecyclerView and supports vertical scrolling and right-to-left layouts for other languages.

Jetpack features that are now in beta include ConstraintLayout 2.0, Biometrics Prompt, Enterprise, and Android for Cars, 

According to Google, ConstraintLayout 2.0 is a new way to customize layouts that relies on helper classes. It lets developers manage motion and widget animation within their apps, as well as handle transitions between layouts and animation processes. 

Security now has a more visible role at Google and Biometrics Prompt gives developers a consistent and safe way for users to enter their biometric credentials (fingerprint, face ID) for authentication. The Biometrics library is a simple system for prompting users. 

Enterprise app writers now have an easier way to automatically generate fendback. The Jetpack Enterprise Library can trigger keyed app states and deliver the information directly to any enterprise mobility management dashboard. 

Want your app to look good in the car? Jetpack's updated Android for Cars libraries lets develoepr generate a driver-optimized version of their app that will be installted into a car's infotainmenet system. It also lets apps work seamlessly with the Android Auto app on phones. 

Google says the Jetpack WorkManager and Jetpack Navigation libraries are now in stable. 

Last, Google open-sourced an early privew of Jetpack Compose, an unbundled toolkit meant to simplify UI development. Google will continue to update Jetpack Compose based directly on develoepr feedback. Google hopes you're not shy about giving it ideas as the tool reaches alpha and beta states. 

Be sure to read the next Mobile article: Latest iOS, watchOS Betas from Apple Set Stage for WWDC

 

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