For the past few years, the primary way to build Android applications has been through Google's Android Studio. The first stable release arrived in 2014, with version 2.0 appearing last year. The third major update was announced at Google I/O 2017, and now it is finally ready for prime time.
Android Studio 3.0 seems to be living up to that major version change the 3.0 number implies. There are many useful new tools for developers, especially when it comes to improving and easing the burden of debugging. There are also some changes that will require advanced preparation to keep your apps and workflow functioning before things break. We have many things to cover, so let's dive in.
Every developer has gone through a long afternoon of making a bunch of tiny changes to their app, rebuilding and running it, then repeating the same steps just to get back to a point where they can test the changes they just made. Forget it, those days are done! Android Studio 2.0 just hit the Canary channel and its headlining feature allows you to push changes from your computer to an app while it's running and see results right away. Also joining the latest release is a brand new GPU Profiler tool that can make OpenGL ES development significantly easier.
The Instant Run feature has been mentioned previously during Google I/O 2015, but it has been under wraps until now.
Android has gone through quite a few changes during its short 6 years of life. The Android that drives most of the world's smartphones of today would be almost unrecognizable to what was launched in late 2008. We've seen massive visual changes, expansion to almost every conceivable form factor, and a completely fleshed-out content ecosystem for multimedia and apps. As the operating system matured, some elements have successfully grown with it, and others have become dead weight. Naturally, progress calls for the replacement of those pieces that haven't scaled well. We've seen an excellent example of this when ART came to replace Dalvik as the standard Android runtime.
It's hard to deny that Android Studio has been a big hit since its announcement at Google I/O this year, and despite the "Early Preview" moniker, developers have been flocking to it. Yesterday afternoon, version 0.2.0 was announced through the Android Developers account on Google+. The new version brings several bug fixes and updates to the IntelliJ IDE, Lint, Gradle, templates, layout rendering, and more. While the list of new features is relatively sparse, what has been added it pretty cool. An update to the Android Gradle plug-in brings the version up to 0.5.0, and now includes very early support for parallel builds, a feature that made Facebook's Buck build tool appealing.
Looking to create a more versatile and powerful build system for Android developers, Google has been working on what is currently called "New Build System," a tool that aims to (one day) replace, unify, and build upon the functionality of Eclipse's ADT and Ant build systems.
While the new build system is still in very early stages (just reaching build 0.1 today) and not yet ready to build ship-able apps, it's already proving useful. Our own Artem cites the ability to build both dev and production versions of apps simultaneously and the ability to use the same build process between ADT and Linux as signs that the project is already showing great potential.