Google releases Android Studio 2.2 with Layout Editor, Firebase plugin and APK Analyzer

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google today spear Android Studio 2.2, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE), with more than 20 new features at each major phase of the development process: design, development, build and test. You can now download the new version for Windows, Mac and Linux directly from developer.android.com/studio. If you are already using Android Studio, you can get the latest version from the navigation menu (Help => Check for updates on Windows/Linux and Android Studio => Check for updates on OS X).

Google released Android Studio 2.1 in April, but that release was primarily focused on adding Android Nougat support. Version 2.2, a preview of which was released in May at Google’s I/O 2016 developer conference, adds many new features.

Here is the recap of what version 2.2 brings to the table:

  • Layout editor: This new UI designer lets you drag and drop widgets from the palette onto your application’s design surface or component tree, and features an outline view to inspect the spacing and layout of your layout in-page, a Properties panel for quick changes to widgets, and a UI builder for editing menu and system preference files.
  • Arrangement of Constraints: This flexible layout manager allows you to create dynamic user interfaces without nesting multiple layouts. It is distributed as a support library tightly coupled to Android Studio and backwards compatible with API level 9 (Android Gingerbread). The built-in templates in the New Project wizard now generate a constraint layout, but you can also click on any layout in the new layout editor and select the Convert to ConstraintLayout option.
  • Layout Inspector (Experimental): Explore your application’s view hierarchy and analyze the attributes of each on-screen UI component. Android Studio creates a snapshot of your app’s current view hierarchy that you can inspect, which is especially useful when trying to locate a bug.
  • Improved C++ support: You can now use CMake or ndk-build to compile your C++ projects from Gradle, seamlessly migrate projects from CMake build systems, and take advantage of C++ support in the new project wizard.
  • Firebase plugin: You can add Firebase to a new or existing Android application with the new Assistant window and access Firebase features directly in the IDE (Tools => Firebase). Many of the Firebase services detailed by Google at I/O 2016 can be added through a guided experience.
  • Sample Browser: This menu option allows you to find Google-provided Android code samples based on the currently highlighted symbol in your project. Highlight Variables, Types, or Methods in your code, then right-click, choose Browse for Sample Code, and you’ll see the results in a lower output box.
  • Instant Run: Numerous stability and reliability improvements.
  • APK Analyzer: Understand the content and size of the various components of your APK, limit issues with your Dex files, diagnose ProGuard configuration issues, view the merged AndroidManifest.xml file, and inspect the compiled resource file. This feature can help you reduce the size of your APK (you will see both the raw file size as well as the download size of various components).
  • Build cache (Experimental): To improve build speeds, this experimental build cache will help reduce full and incremental build times. Just add android.enableBuildCache=true to your gradle.properties file.
  • Virtual sensors in Android emulator: With new UI controls, you can now test Android sensors like accelerometer, ambient temperature, magnetometer, etc.
  • Espresso test recorder (Beta): Create UI tests by recording interactions with your app. Run your app in debug mode and enable logging. This feature will capture UI events and convert them into Espresso tests that you can run locally or even in the Firebase test lab.
  • GPU Debugger (Beta): You can now capture a stream of OpenGL ES commands on your Android device, replay it from Android Studio for analysis, and also fully inspect the GPU state of any given OpenGL ES command to better understand and debug your graphics output .
  • Improved Jack Tools: Incremental building and full support for annotation processing has been added, so you can explore using Java 8 features in your existing projects.
  • Merged Manifest Viewer: Navigate to your AndroidManifest.xml and click on the new bottom tab of the merged manifest to see how each node in your AndroidManifest resolves with various project dependencies.

This release also includes many stability and performance fixes in addition to new features (full release notes). For the next release, Google plans to “continue to improve the quality and stability of existing features.”

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