What’s new for Android developers at Google I/O


Cross-posted on the Android Developers blog by Karen Ng, Director, Product Management & Jacob Lehrbaum, Director of Developer Relations, Android & Play

As Android developers, we are all driven by building experiences that delight people around the world. And with people depending on your apps more than ever, expectations are higher and your jobs as developers aren’t getting easier. Today, at Google I/O, we covered a few ways that we’re trying to help out, whether it be through Android 12 – one of the biggest design changes ever, Jetpack, Jetpack Compose, Android Studio, and Kotlin to help you build beautiful high quality apps. We’re also helping when it comes to extending your apps wherever your users go, like through wearables and larger-screened devices. You can watch the full Developer Keynote, but here are a few highlights:

Android 12: one of the biggest design updates ever.

The first Beta of Android 12 just started rolling out, and it’s packed with lots of cool stuff. From new user safety features like permissions for bluetooth and approximate location, enhancements to performance like expedited jobs and start up animations, to delightful experiences with more interactive widgets and stretch overscrolling, this release is one of the biggest design updates to Android ever. You can read more about what’s in Android 12 Beta 1 here, so you can start preparing your apps for the consumer release coming out later this year. Download the Beta and try it with your apps today!

Android 12 visual

Jetpack Compose: get ready for 1.0 in July!

For the last few years, we’ve been hard at work modernizing the Android development experience, listening to your feedback to keep the openness–a hallmark of Android, but becoming more opinionated about the right way to do things. You can see this throughout, from Android Studio, a performant IDE that can keep up with you, to Kotlin, a programming language that enables you to do more with less code, to Jetpack libraries that solve the hardest problems on mobile with backward compatibility.

The next step in this offering is Jetpack Compose – our modern UI toolkit to easily build beautiful apps for all Android devices. We announced Compose here at Google I/O two years ago and since then have been building it in the open, listening to your feedback to make sure we got it right. With the Compose Beta earlier this year, developers around the world have created some truly beautiful, innovative experiences in half the time, and the response to the #AndroidDevChallenge blew our socks off!

With the forthcoming update of Material You (which you can read more about here), we’ll be adding new Material components as well as further support for building for large screens, making it fast and easy to build a gorgeous UI. We’re pressure testing the final bits in Compose and will release 1.0 Stable in July—so get ready!

Android Studio Arctic Fox: Design, Devices, & Developer Productivity!

Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) Beta, the latest release of the official powerful Android IDE, is out today to help you build quality apps easier and faster. We have delivered and updated the suite of tools to empower three major themes: accelerate your UI design, extend your app to new devices, and boost your developer productivity. With this latest release you can create modern UIs with Compose tooling, see test results across multiple devices, and optimize debugging databases and background tasks with the App Inspector. We’re also making your apps more accessible with the Accessibility Scanner and more performant with Memory Profiler. And for faster build speeds, we have the Android Gradle plugin 7.0, new DSL, and variant APIs. You can learn more about the Android Studio updates here.

Android Studio Arctic Fox

Kotlin: the most used language by professional Android devs

Kotlin is now the most used primary language by professional Android developers according to our recent surveys; in fact, over 1.2M apps in the Play Store use Kotlin, including 80% of the top 1000 apps. And here at Google, we love it too: 70+ Google apps like Drive, Home, Maps and Play use Kotlin. And with a brand-new native solution to annotation processing for Kotlin built from the ground up, Kotlin Symbol Processing is available today, a powerful and yet simple API for parsing Kotlin code directly, showing speeds up to 2x faster with libraries like Room.

Android Jetpack: write features, not boilerplate

With Android Jetpack, we built a suite of libraries to help reduce boilerplate code so you can focus on the code you care about. Over 84% of the top 10,000 apps are now using a Jetpack library. And today, we’re unpacking some new releases for Jetpack, including Jetpack Macrobenchmark (Alpha) to capture large interactions that affect your app startup and jank before your app is released, as well as a new Kotlin Coroutines API for persisting data more efficiently via Jetpack DataStore (Beta). You can read about all the updates in Android Jetpack here.

Now is the time: a big step for Wear

The best thing about modern Android development is that these tools have been purpose built to help make it easy for you to build for the next era of Android, which is all about enabling devices connected to your phone–TVs, cars, watches, tablets–to work better together.

Starting today, we take a huge step forward with wearables. First, we introduced a unified platform built jointly with Samsung, combining the best of Wear and Tizen. Second, we shared a new consumer experience with revamped Google apps. And third, a world-class health and fitness service from Fitbit is coming to the platform. As an Android developer, it means you’ll have more reach, and you’ll be able to use all of your existing skills, tools, and APIs that make your mobile apps great, to build for a single wearables platform used by people all over the world.

Whether it’s new Jetpack APIs for Wear tailored for small screens and designed to optimize battery life, to the Jetpack Tiles API, so you can create a custom Tile for all the devices in the Wear ecosystem, there are a number of new features to help you build on Wear. And with a new set of APIs for Health and Fitness, created in collaboration with Samsung, data collection from sensors and metrics computation is streamlined, consistent, and accurate–like heart rate to calories to daily distance–from one trusted source. All this comes together in new tooling, with the release of Android Studio Arctic Fox Beta, like easier pairing to test apps, and even a virtual heart rate sensor in the emulator. And when your app is ready, users will have a much easier time discovering the world of Wear apps on Google Play, with some big updates to discoverability. You can read more about all of the Wear updates here.

Tapping the momentum of larger screens, like tablets, Chrome OS and foldables

When it comes to larger screens — tablets, foldables, and Chrome OS laptops– there is huge momentum. People are increasingly relying on large screen devices to stay connected with family and friends, go to school, or work remotely. In fact, there are over 250 million active large screen Android devices. Last year, Chrome OS grew +92% year over year–5 times the rate of the PC market, making Chrome OS the fastest growing and the second-most popular desktop OS. To help you take advantage of this momentum, we’re giving you APIs and tools to make optimizing that experience easier: like having your content resize automatically to more space by using SlidingpaneLayout 1.2.0 and a new vertical navigation rail component, Max widths on components to avoid stretched UIs, as well as updates to the platform, Chrome OS, and Jetpack windowmanager, so apps work better by default. You can learn more here.

Google Duo's optimized experience for foldable devices

Google Duo’s optimized experience for foldable devices

This is just a taste of some of the new ways we’re making it easier for you to build high quality Android apps. Later today, we’ll be releasing more than 20 technical sessions on Android and Play, covering a wide range of topics such as background tasks, privacy, and Machine Learning on Android, or the top 12 tips to get you ready for Android 12. If building for cars, TVs, and wearables is your thing, we got that covered, too. You can find all these sessions – and more – on the I/O website. Beyond the sessions and news, there’s a number of fun ways to virtually connect with Googlers and other developers at this year’s Google I/O. You can check out the Android dome in I/O Adventure, where you can see new blog posts, videos, codelabs, and more. Maybe even test out your Jetpack Compose skills or take a virtual tour of the cars inside our dome!

Announcing Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) & Android Gradle plugin 7.0


Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager

Android Studio logo

Today marks the release of the first version of Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) on the canary channel, together with Android Gradle plugin (AGP) version 7.0.0-alpha01. With this release, we are adjusting the version numbering of Android Studio and our Gradle plugin. This change decouples the Gradle plugin from the Android Studio versioning scheme and brings more clarity to which year and IntelliJ version Android Studio aligns with for each release.

New versioning scheme – Android Studio

With Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) we are moving to a year-based system that is more closely aligned with IntelliJ IDEA, the IDE upon which Android Studio is built. We are changing the version numbering scheme to encode a number of important attributes: the year, the version of IntelliJ it is based on, plus feature and patch level. WIth this name change you can quickly figure out which version of the IntelliJ platform you are using in Android Studio. In addition, each major version will have a canonical codename, starting with Arctic Fox, and then proceeding alphabetically to help make it easy to see which version is newer.

We recommend that you use the latest version of Android Studio so that you have access to the latest features and quality improvements. To make it easier to stay up to date, we made the version change to clearly de-couple Android Studio from your Android Gradle Plugin version. An important detail to keep in mind is that there is no impact to the way the build system compiles and packages your app when you update the IDE. In contrast, app build process changes and APK/Bundles are dictated by your project AGP version. Therefore, it is safe to update your Android Studio version, even late in your development cycle, because your project AGP version can be updated in a different cadence than your Android Studio version. Lastly, with the new version system it is even easier than before for you or your team to run both the stable and preview versions of Android Studio at the same time on your app project as long as you keep the AGP version on a stable release.

In the previous numbering system, this release would have been Android Studio 4.3. With the new numbering system, it is now Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) Canary 1 or just, Arctic Fox.

Going forward, here is how the Android Studio version number scheme will work:

<Year of IntelliJ Version>.<IntelliJ major version>.<Studio major version>

  • The first two number groups represent the version of the final IntellIj platform that a particular Android Studio release is based on (earlier canaries may still be on the earlier version). For this release, this is 2020.3.
  • The third number group represents the Studio major version, starting at 1 and incrementing by one for every major release.
  • To make it easier to refer to each version, we are also giving major releases a code name, incrementing from A to Z based on animal names. This initial release name is Arctic Fox.

New versioning scheme – Android Gradle plugin

With AGP 7.0.0 we are adopting the principles of semantic versioning, and aligning with the Gradle version that AGP requires. Compatibility between Android Studio and Android Gradle plugin remains unchanged. Projects that use stable versions of AGP can be opened with newer versions of Android Studio.

We will publish another post soon with more details about our AGP versioning philosophy and what is new in AGP 7.0.

What is new in Android Studio Arctic Fox

We are in early days in the feature development phase for Arctic Fox, but we have invested much of our time in addressing over 200 quality improvements and bugs across a wide range of areas in the IDE from the code editor, app inspection tools, layout editor to the embedded emulator. Check out the release notes for the specific bug fixes.

For those trying out Jetpack Compose, we have a host of new updates, like deploy @Preview composables to device/emulator:

Deploy preview composable

Also try out the new Layout Validation Tool in Arctic Fox to see how your layout responds to various screens sizes, font sizes, and Android Color Correction/Color Blind Modes. You can access this via the Layout Validation tool window when you are using the Layout Editor.

Layout Validation

Lastly, for those running MacOS (other platforms are coming soon) with the latest Android Platform tools and an Android 11 device, you can try out the IDE integration for the Wireless ADB feature by going to the Run device selection dialogue → Pair Devices Using Wi-Fi.

Menu to access Wireless ADB feature

Wireless ADB Setup Window

What’s Next

If you want to learn more about other detailed changes coming with this release for both Android Studio and the Android Gradle plugin, make sure to take a look at the release notes.