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.
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 Studio v1.5 just rolled out to the stable channel today and it's absolutely packed with a feature. Truth is this release was mostly focused on bug fixes, performance improvements, and other fine tuning. Of course, for a tool used in professional software development, those certainly aren't bad things. Take a look as Reto Meier explains the changes and trolls teases Android developers with a mystery box that surely must include new language support, or a fully functional theme editor, or... something more likely.
The one notable addition can be found in the Memory Profiler. It's now capable of detecting leaked activities while testing.
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.
With the official stable release of Android Studio v1.3 a couple of weeks ago, it's time to begin testing the next string of new features. The first preview release of version 1.4 is now in the Canary channel, and it's sporting some big new features. The Android Tools team has been working on the new theme editor first demonstrated in the I/O session titled What's New in Android Development Tools. There are also new performance monitors for GPU and network activity, a vector asset wizard for turning SVG files into XML vector drawables, and a few new lint checks.
Here is the Google I/O session video cued up to the beginning of the theme editor demo at 36 minutes:
The new theme editor examines the styles in a project and displays visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface.
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.
A large part of the What's New in Android Development Tools session at Google I/O 2015 focused on one particular feature, or rather, group of features coming to Android Studio: upcoming support for C/C++ and the Android NDK. Version 1.3 RC1 of the IDE hit the canary channel late yesterday, finally enabling developers of native apps and games to begin transitioning from Eclipse (or another IDE) to Android Studio, if they choose to. Functionality is described as "preview quality," so there are still some known issues and probably quite a few bugs.
With the addition of NDK support, this release brings a number of internal and organizational changes, some of which will affect all developers.
It's been a long and winding road, but the days of Eclipse with ADT are over. In a post on the Android development blog, Google has announced that development and official support for the Android Development Tools plugin for Eclipse will be shut down at the end of this year. Google intends to focus all of its effort on improving Android Studio and advises developers move their active projects to Android Studio using the included migration tool.
Google I/O is first and foremost a developer conference. New products may be announced at the keynote, but just about everything is really meant for the people that build the apps. For Android developers, there are few things that matter more than their tools. Today, a fresh release of Android Studio hit the Canary channel, and it brings one of the most often requested features: C/C++ support.
Android apps, as most people think of them, are usually written in Java and have a runtime environment that imposes some additional overhead on execution. Games and other performance-critical software are usually built with C or C++ and the Native Development Kit (NDK) so that they can avoid most of that overhead.