The first Android Studio v1.4 preview release came out just a short six weeks ago, and now it's moving into the Stable channel, right on schedule. The features remain largely the same as the original v1.4 preview, but a ton of bugs have been fixed and a few of the capabilities have been improved in some awesome ways.
Most of the main features were covered in the video above and in our Preview 1 post, but they're worth a quick recap:
- Major support for vector-based assets. Android Studio now has a Vector Asset Wizard that can convert SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) files into Android's XML drawable format. This can dramatically reduce file sizes and keeps images looking crisp across all pixel densities and layouts. This is mostly for use with apps that work on API 21 and above, but there's a new feature for backward compatibility. More on that below.
- Material Icons. The Vector Asset Wizard also provides a convenient icon importer with a large selection of vector icons suitable for use in apps aspiring to fit within the Material Design Guidelines.
- Theme Editor Preview. There's a reasonably powerful designer-focused tool that allows for quickly working with the visual traits of controls. The implementation is still a bit young, so it only supports picking colors and getting a demo of what they look like with different controls, but it's a start.
- Performance Monitors. Two additional performance monitors have been added to track GPU and Network performance.
Backward Compatible Vector Drawables
Android Studio can now use your vector drawables to automatically generate rasterized PNG images for apps running KitKat and below. The output covers a range of different DPI buckets and version numbers as appropriate. The great thing about this is that developers and designers will no longer have to go through a redundant and very time-consuming process to create images in multiple sizes for each and every asset. The system is explained in the video below.
Updated Project Templates
If you're setting up a new project, the wizard is usually a convenient way to get started. The templates have long included the AppCompat Support Library since it offers so many useful functions. Now that the Android Design Support Library has had a chance to mature a bit, it too has become a staple component in many of the templates. This will allow developers to create a project and immediately have things like a floating action button, navigation drawer, and other components, all of which are suited to Google's current style guidelines.
Nexus 5X and 6P Models
If you'd like to see how your apps will render on Google's latest hardware, the screen sizes and border images for the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P have been updated.
If you happen to be using (or interested in using) Firebase for data storage, user authentication, or hosting, it's easy to have it automatically set up and configured in your app. Just go to File -> Project Structure -> Cloud to get started.
As always, updating is as simple as checking for updates and letting Android Studio take care of the rest. If you're coming from v1.3, the patch is fairly hefty at a bit over 300 MB, but updates from the 1.4 Preview and Beta builds should be at or below 35 MB.
- Android Developers Blog