The first Android Studio v1.4 preview release came out just a short six weeks ago, and now it's moving into the Stable channel, right on schedule. The features remain largely the same as the original v1.4 preview, but a ton of bugs have been fixed and a few of the capabilities have been improved in some awesome ways.
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:
The new theme editor examines the styles in a project and displays visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface.
Microsoft surprised Android developers last year with the launch of a brand new emulator designed for performance and features that aren't available anywhere else. While the initial Preview release only included an image for KitKat, subsequent updates introduced an expanded set of emulator images and some valuable new features. While a high-speed emulator is certainly compelling, many developers still didn't adopt it because it had to be downloaded and installed alongside a very large Visual Studio package, not to mention it was also frustrating to set up for use with other IDEs. Last week, Microsoft unburdened the emulator and released it as a standalone download along with step-by-step instructions to set it up to easily run with Android Studio and Eclipse with ADT.
A large part of the What's New in Android Development Tools session at Google I/O 2015 focused on one particular feature, or rather, group of features coming to Android Studio: upcoming support for C/C++ and the Android NDK. Version 1.3 RC1 of the IDE hit the canary channel late yesterday, finally enabling developers of native apps and games to begin transitioning from Eclipse (or another IDE) to Android Studio, if they choose to. Functionality is described as "preview quality," so there are still some known issues and probably quite a few bugs.
With the addition of NDK support, this release brings a number of internal and organizational changes, some of which will affect all developers.
It's been a long and winding road, but the days of Eclipse with ADT are over. In a post on the Android development blog, Google has announced that development and official support for the Android Development Tools plugin for Eclipse will be shut down at the end of this year. Google intends to focus all of its effort on improving Android Studio and advises developers move their active projects to Android Studio using the included migration tool.
Google I/O is first and foremost a developer conference. New products may be announced at the keynote, but just about everything is really meant for the people that build the apps. For Android developers, there are few things that matter more than their tools. Today, a fresh release of Android Studio hit the Canary channel, and it brings one of the most often requested features: C/C++ support.
Android apps, as most people think of them, are usually written in Java and have a runtime environment that imposes some additional overhead on execution. Games and other performance-critical software are usually built with C or C++ and the Native Development Kit (NDK) so that they can avoid most of that overhead.
When Android Studio v1.1 entered the Stable channel, about 6 weeks ago, the Dev Tools team gave word that v1.2 was already well underway and that it would be based on the newly released IntelliJ 14. A couple of weeks later, the first preview build turned up, and it had already been upgraded to include IntelliJ 14.1, as well. Developers on the Canary channel have been testing and playing with the new features since early March, and now it's time to bring the goods to a larger audience. Android Studio v1.2 has just been released to the Beta channel with a mindboggling list of improvements.
December brought us many gifts, not least of which was the official release of Android Studio v1.0. While things have been fairly quiet for developers sticking to Stable releases, the Android Tools team has been busy with a steady stream of updates for those of us on the Canary builds. After two months in development, v1.1 is finally ready to roll out to the masses. This version is mostly dedicated to bug fixes, but there are a few features added in test builds that will feel new to users that are just now receiving the update.