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.
Jide's Remix OS has turned a lot of heads in the last couple of years, thanks to an interesting initial tablet offering and subsequent easy-to-install software for both PCs and a few Nexus tablets and even some retail hardware. The modified Android software, which uses a desktop-style window system for apps, is surprisingly robust and easy to use. Jide's latest move is to offer Remix as a virtual machine package, allowing Windows desktops, laptops, and tablets to run the Android ROM in a dedicated window alongside desktop applications.
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.