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.
Google's introduction of Android N promises many great enhancements to the operating system, but we can't overlook some of the important awesome changes to the tools we use. The latest iteration of ADB brings some new features and significant performance improvements. Googler Elliott Hughes took to Google+ with details about the update, letting us know what we can look forward to from moving to the latest preview release of adb.
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.
Remember back in December (and January) when Packt Publishing gave away a couple free ebooks focused on Android development? The one-a-day promotion has been going strong since, but the books haven't exactly been targeted at the OS on our phones. But great news: this whole week is dedicated to mobile development!
The current freebie is all about showing love to both sides of the phone war – it's Xamarin Cross-platform Application Development. But you better hurry over and claim it, this particular book will expire in just over 5 hours. (Sorry, we saw this one a little late).
While the free book is enough reason to drop by, there's something more interesting afoot in this promotion.
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.