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.
Normally only Nexus and other first-party Google devices get a taste of an upcoming Android version before it's released, barring custom ROMs and other end user activities. But Sony has been offering experimental AOSP builds for some of its phones for some time, and today the company has surprised and delighted owners of the former flagship Xperia Z3 with a custom Android N developer preview. This is more or less the same as the preview builds for Nexus phones and tablets, and it includes the Play Store and Google Services - everything one needs for a full Android experience.
For all its flaws, mobile gaming is kind of a big deal. Even world-class gaming hardware and software companies like Sony would be ill-advised to ignore it. And they aren't: today Sony announced that it's forming a new first-party development company called ForwardWorks, which will work exclusively on game development for mobile. Presumably that means Android games (since Sony manufactures Android hardware and leverages it with its PlayStation brand) and iOS games (since it would be foolish to ignore that potential revenue).
ForwardWorks will be based out of Tokyo as a fully-owned Sony subsidiary. At the moment it isn't clear what the focus of the developer will be: mobile tie-ins to popular Sony franchises like Killzone, Infamous, Little Big Planet, and Uncharted are obvious picks, but there's plenty of money to be made in mobile-only franchises as well if developers can score a win with the first title.
Developers, we know you work hard on your apps. So does Google. But they also know that sometimes it's hard to make apps easy to use when you're elbow deep in their design. To that end, the new Accessibility Scanner app allows you to check other apps for potential problems or possible improvements in terms of accessibility. It's a free download in the Play Store, but at the moment it looks like it's limited to Android 6.0 devices.
At GDC, Google announced a few new game-focused tools for developers that should make launching, promoting, and monetizing titles easier. There's now a full blog post on the changes, and they look like a big deal for developers, especially those who consider themselves "indie."
Maintaining an app has some similarities with keeping a website up and running. One day everything is fine. The next day, an update goes out that leaves thousands of people unable to do anything. Now they're ranting on Twitter, leaving poor reviews on Google Play, and giving you a massive dose of negativity and rage to encounter when you sit down at your computer.
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.
We've known for ages that Google is working on bringing multi-window mode to Android, and it's finally happening in Android N. As part of the new developer preview, you can start playing around with apps in split-screen and picture-in-picture modes. Developers will have to add support by targeting Android N (and later), but it sounds like Android itself will handle all the heavy lifting.