Android Studio Dolphin – D for dunce?
I love Android programming, but my struggle with Android Studio seems to get worse with each release. Is Dolphin going to be the fun and fun experience its name suggests?
The simple answer is no – but read on.
I’m not going to go over my objections to Android Studio and the latest version in particular, suffice it to say that it’s slow, memory hungry and a sprawling mess of inconsistencies. What is more surprising is that the progression seems less with each release. Dolphin is disappointing in terms of its Jetpack Compose, Wear OS and testing improvements.
Compose support has been extended to preview animations and a recompose counter. So still no quick drag and drop designer. I know many teams reject anything as dumb as a drag and drop designer, but for quick prototyping and getting beginners started, it’s a must. The old way of doing Android UI is still way ahead of Compose when it comes to not wanting to know how it all works. With the old way, you can just build a UI without worrying about how it turned out. With Compose, you have to read, learn, and code. Being able to see animations is nice, but I’d really like some more basic tools and maybe a clear statement about when the old way of building a UI is going to be deprecated. This would at least clearly show that Google has discontinued another product.
Until recently, Wear OS wasn’t much of a competitor. Now that Samsung has returned to the operating system, things are looking up. It’s still not the number one reason to download Studio, but it’s getting better. The new features are designed to help create programs for Wear OS 3 devices, which are currently rolling out. If you don’t have the real hardware, the fact that there is a new version of the emulator is welcome.
After those two, there isn’t much. A good decision is the introduction of a manager, based on Gradle, for your virtual devices. All you have to do is select the VMs you want to use and Gradle will take care of the rest. Of course, given its Gradle, you can expect a fair share of glitches and pitfalls, but overall it’s good.
Well that’s about it. If you want Google’s insight into how things are going, watch the video:
Last word – it’s still slow and requires more memory than is reasonable for an IDE – it’s a whale, not a dolphin.
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