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.
The name Genymobile is well-known throughout the Android development community for building a very fast and efficient emulator before it was cool. Today, Genymobile announced an ambitious new direction for the technology: Genymotion Cloud. Tagged as the first cloud-based Android emulator, Genymotion Cloud is targeted at business and enterprise customers with some big new collaboration and automated testing features.
An Android emulator remains at the heart of Genymotion Cloud, but as the name implies, the emulators are running remotely. The idea here is that it's possible to set up an instance for use in a wide variety of ways.
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.
Now that Android Studio is faring quite well for its core necessities, the tools team is tackling some of the bigger challenges. A couple of weeks ago, they featured a new ability to deploy a limited set of changes to apps without fully restarting them. This week they're shooting to take on one of the longest and most requested items on the list: a faster and more useful emulator.
The biggest boost to speed can be seen while running Android 6.0 on the new emulator. This comes from newly added support for Symmetric Multi-Processing (SMP), which allows the emulator to take full advantage of multiple processor cores on a computer.
Before we start, let's get one thing out of the way: there's no practical application for the apps demonstrated below, at least not in the way they're being used. You can't seriously play a game meant for a 20-button controller on a screen smaller than two inches across, even if your fingers are tiny enough to hit the virtual buttons. This is the work of an enthusiast gamer and Android fan. It doesn't have to make sense.
Alright, now that that's out of the way: YouTube user Hacking Jules would like you to see his collection of game emulators running on Android Wear.
PPSSPP is an impressively capable emulator for the original Sony PlayStation Portable, and today it's a little more so. The 1.1 update adds a ton of new features, or at least it officially adds them - support for Android TV and ARM64 seems to have been there for quite a while, since I've been playing Power Stone on the NVIDIA SHIELD TV since we published the review back in May.
Other changes include screen rotation support for those few PSP games that can be played in a vertical layout, the usual collection of improvements to general performance, audio, GPU compatibility, and AdHoc multiplayer mode, and savestates for homebrewed PSP apps.
One of the biggest challenges to creating good apps for Android Auto has been actually testing the experience. Many independent developers can't afford to purchase brand new cars with Auto built-in, and aftermarket head units won't fit in most recently manufactured cars without heavy modification, and most of those units aren't very good anyway. When the Auto SDK came out, it included simulators that could be used for basic testing of just the messaging and media browser interfaces, but even these weren't good substitutes for the real thing. Today, Google released the Android Auto Desktop Head Unit, a functioning implementation of the Android Auto platform that runs right on a desktop or laptop.
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.
The Nintendo DS, though pretty old by game standards, is a tricky thing to emulate. Aside from the dual screens, it uses standard button, touchscreen, and microphone inputs, and it has a plethora of 2D and 3D games available. Despite this, DraStic remains the best emulator for the DS on the Play Store (and one of the most complete emulators for Android regardless of system). The latest update adds even more goodies.
First and foremost, DraStic is now compatible with Android TV, much to the delight of SHIELD TV owners. (Hint: remap one of the extra buttons on your controller to switch between the Nintendo DS screens.) There's also a new high-resolution 3D mode - polygonal graphics can be upscaled for HD play in ways that won't work for pixel graphics.
Today's Android devices are powerful enough to run circles around most game consoles of yesteryear, but that doesn't mean emulating old hardware is easy. 2D games, sure, walk in the park—but replicating the original PlayStation is a different thing entirely. Nevertheless, that hasn't stopped an Android developer from trying to tackle the even more powerful PlayStation 2.
Play!, as the emulator is called, also supports Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS. Here's a video of an Android tablet running Final Fantasy X. Though they aren't demonstrated, we can see that the tester also has Capcom Vs SNK 2, Dragon Quest VIII, Dynasty Warriors 2, Gradius V, Kingdom Hearts, and Space Harrier saved to the device.