With the official stable release of Android Studio v1.3 a couple of weeks ago, it's time to begin testing the next string of new features. The first preview release of version 1.4 is now in the Canary channel, and it's sporting some big new features. The Android Tools team has been working on the new theme editor first demonstrated in the I/O session titled What's New in Android Development Tools. There are also new performance monitors for GPU and network activity, a vector asset wizard for turning SVG files into XML vector drawables, and a few new lint checks.

Here is the Google I/O session video cued up to the beginning of the theme editor demo at 36 minutes:

Theme Editor

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The new theme editor examines the styles in a project and displays visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface. Developers can make changes to various attributes directly through the theme editor and see them updated in the live preview. For the initial release, only colors and color state-lists are supported, but many other attributes will be coming in future releases.

Vector Asset Wizard

Continuing on the visual track, there is a new vector asset wizard with a few handy tricks for designers and developers. The first function offered by the wizard is a converter that can turn SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) files into Android's XML drawable format. This has become an increasingly popular approach to delivering certain UI resources to apps after Lollipop significantly improved support for rendering vector drawables. There are web services that offer to convert SVG to drawables right now, but it's certainly more convenient to let the IDE do it on the fly.

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The other new tool offered by the vector asset wizard is a handy icon importer that picks from the Material Design vector icon library. For now, the icon import functionality is still a bit limited, but a future release of the Gradle plugin is expected to improve its capabilities by generating custom-colored icons as part of the build process.

Performance Monitors (GPU and Networking)

The final big addition is a pair of performance monitors for GPU rending and Network performance. The GPU profiler graphs usage for any connected process, which can be useful for tracking drops in framerates and identifying problem areas. Likewise, the network profiler measures usage by processes to determine when and how much data is traveling over the air (or the wire) because of your application.

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Android Studio v1.4 Preview 1 is available now in the Canary channel. As usual, the Android Tools team advises developers to keep two copies of Studio on a machine, one that remains on the Stable or Beta channels, and another that can update with the Canary builds.