Google Play Console, Android Studio, Kotlin and Jetpack get new features
The beta of Android 11 may have just been released, but if you’re a developer, there’s more to get excited about. Along with Android 11, Google has plenty of benefits for developers, including a redesigned Google Play console, new versions of Android Studio, and plenty of AndroidX and Kotlin updates.
Redesign of the Google Play console
First, let’s talk about the new Google Play console. Since the introduction of the new material design guidelines, Google has (slowly) updated its various apps and websites to the new design language, and that finally includes the Play Console. In addition to the design refresh, things have been revamped a bit. Google says there’s a new user management system to help you manage the people you’ve invited to your console account, along with other features to “help you thrive” on Google Play.
You can see some screenshots of the new design below.
Android Studio 4.1 and 4.2
The next new thing is Android Studio. Google released two new versions: 4.1 in beta and 4.2 in Canary. There are a ton of new features in these builds, so we’re only going to go over some of the coolest ones.
If you’ve developed (or tinkered with) a lot, you’re probably familiar with Wireless ADB. This feature of ADB allows you to connect to your device using its IP address instead of a cable. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to activate. You either need to get by in normal ADB or have a rooted device. Well, with Android Studio 4.2, all you need is a device running Android 11 or later, and you will be able to get Wireless ADB up and running in no time.
The Android emulator is now part of Android Studio. As of this writing, it’s not exactly clear what this means, but Google says it will allow for faster, more integrated automated testing.
Finally (for this sublist) app builds should be even faster for devices running Android 11 or later.
Here is a graph showing the new features in both versions.
Kotlin and AndroidX
Now let’s talk about Kotlin and AndroidX. Kotlin has probably become the most popular language for Android development. It is more concise than Java, has various helper methods, supports extension functions, and has many more that make it more pleasant to use than Java. Due to all of these benefits, Google officially recommends Kotlin as the language to use for Android development.
First of all, there are a few new features in Kotlin itself. Android Studio now supports Kotlin 1.4, which contains a whole bunch of new features. One of the main features of 1.4 is the SAM conversion for Kotlin interfaces. For some time now, Kotlin has automatically converted single-method Java interfaces to lambdas, for better readability. However, this conversion did not work for interfaces declared in Kotlin; in 1.3, even with a single method Kotlin interface, you will have to write the entire implementation. In Kotlin 1.4, this is no longer necessary. Simply mark your Kotlin single method interfaces with the
fun modifier, and you can use them in lambda form.
You can read more about Kotlin 1.4 here and here.
This is not all, however. Kotlin has a powerful feature called Coroutines. Coroutines are similar to Android’s now deprecated AsyncTask, but with more features, better syntax, and easier readability. Three AndroidX libraries, Lifecycle, WorkManager, and Room, now support Kotlin coroutines, which should make it easier to manage asynchronous logic when using these libraries.
In case you missed Google’s various announcements on this, Jetpack Compose is a new way to design layouts in native Android projects. Instead of the imperative XML layout, Compose is a declarative framework written entirely in Kotlin. He’s been in his first Developer Preview for a while now, but starting today you will be able to try his second Developer Preview. There are a bunch of new features in this release, including:
- Interoperability with native Android views
- Adapter-based lists
- Real-time previews of layout changes (previously you had to rebuild the project)
- Completion of the code
Google hopes to release an alpha version of Compose this summer, with a full version slated for 2021.
And that’s all we have today! Not everything new is in this article, so be sure to check out Google’s official announcement for more details. You can see all of the 12 lectures that Google just posted in this YouTube playlist, discover new developer content every week during Google’s “11 Weeks of Android”, and learn from each other in a meeting. Android 11 community line.