The Android SDK isn't something that normal users see all that often (except perhaps when they're unlocking the bootloader on a new phone), but developers still rely on it heavily. One of the components included in the collection of desktop tools is Google's first-party Android emulator. It's a way of running a simplified version of Android software on a computer for the purpose of testing apps. And as cool as that sounds, it's also kind of a hassle - like all emulators, it's significantly slower than using Android on native hardware.
As an Android nerd, there are times you probably need ADB or fastboot to mess around with your phone. Maybe you're flashing an OTA or unlocking the bootloader. You used to need to grab a giant package of other junk from Google to get them, but no more! Google has started hosting platform tools downloads without the other stuff that are a mere 3.5MB.
Long ago in days of yore, Google provided a plugin for the popular Eclipse integrated development environment, the better for aspiring mobile devs to work with their favorite IDE while making new apps. Months after the release of the stand-alone Android Studio version 2.2, Google is officially getting rid of support for the older IDE in favor of its own internal project. To be clear, Eclipse is still very much alive and in active development (it's not a Google program), it's just the plugin that's no longer supported.
The Android Tools Team has been hard at work on version 2.2 of Android Studio, and it's finally ready to step up to a stable release. Demonstrated at Google I/O, the preview release of v2.2 introduced a plethora of great new features and improvements intended to make app development faster and easier. Over the last four months, Studio has been continually tested and refined to get it ready for all developers, regardless of which development channels they're normally following. For anybody that hasn't been following along with the canary or dev builds, the video below summarizes many of the new improvements in this release.
Yesterday's Google I/O keynote gave an introduction to some of the great new improvements to Android Studio 2.2, but it only scratched the surface. Today, the Android Tools Team took to the stage again to detail even more about the things they've been doing to make work easier for developers. Topics ranged from new tools like the APK Analyzer and Espresso Test Recorder to big improvements in the code editor and inspectors. We can't cover everything, but here is a summary of the main topics presented today.
New Layout Editor
One of the two hot topics introduced during the keynote is a brand new layout editor.
While all major tech companies use their flagship events to announce new products, Google doesn't shy away from putting developer tools on stage. And keeping with a common theme lately, there's a preview release for the next Android Studio. Version 2.2 includes some immediately popular and often-requested additions to the IDE.
With last month's release of the Android N Preview, the Tools team launched a preview release of Android Studio 2.1. Not only did the new version add support for the N Preview SDK, but it also brought a few important important and welcomed additions, including adoption and support for many of the language features in Java 8, a semi-official switch to the Jack compiler, an updated New Project wizard, and further improvements to the new and faster Android Emulator. As of today, Android Studio 2.1 has been promoted to Stable and is available to all developers.
The biggest advantage of updating and switching to the Jack compiler, aside from playing with new Android N APIs like Launcher Shortcuts, is probably the addition of Lambda Expressions.
Yesterday you read about (and maybe understood) the new Java 8 language features coming with the Android N Developer Preview. One of the prerequisites of using these improvements is the latest version of Android Studio. The IDE was briefly mentioned in that article, but we thought it deserved a little more attention for both the improvements and some of the caveats to updating right now.
The Android Studio 2.1 Preview 1 is based on the current 2.0 version in the beta channel. The changelog is basically a roadmap to supporting the new features promised with Android N: support for Java 8, improved support for the Jack compiler, and an updated New Project wizard to generate projects targeting the Android N Preview.
Kotlin has been emerging as a programming language to keep a close eye on. It started as an internal project at JetBrains back in 2011 and was released early the next year. Taking inspiration from both classic C-based languages and a number of modern alternatives like Scala, Kotlin is branded as a "pragmatic" language and modeled to encourage smarter coding and easier readability. JetBrains has been tiptoeing up to an official v1.0 release for a few months, and today, it's finally here.
While it's still a fledgling language, Kotlin has earned some enthusiastic supporters among the Android development community, even a few Googlers have discussed using it in projects.