Google’s Android Studio IDE receives live changes to speed up development cycles TechCrunch
It’s Google I/O today and as tradition dictates, the company is taking advantage of the event to present the latest versions of its Android Studio development environment. Launching today is a new Android Studio Dolphin beta with features like View Compose animations and Wear OS emulators, plus a preview of Android Studio Electric Eel, which is now in the channel early access canary.
For the most part, all of the interesting announcements are part of Electric Eel, which is no shock. The standout feature, I think, is Live Edit, which allows developers to make changes to code and immediately see the results in composition preview in Android Studio and in the app running on the built-in emulator or physical device.
Sean McBreen, who leads developer experience for Android at Google, noted that this is something developers have been asking for for a long time, given that it will allow developers to speed up their cycle times without having to wait to test their changes. He noted that Android Studio already had live literals, which allowed developers to modify small individual values. Now, however, developers will be able to do things like add new functions and tweak the user interface and see the effect of those changes in real time.
Also new to Android Studio is built-in support for Firebase’s Crashlytics, Google’s crash reporting service. With new App Quality Insights windows, developers can now see their stack traces right in their IDE and even see which lines of code are likely to cause a crash. The idea here, of course, is to allow developers to do more of their work in a single application without having to switch contexts.
“A problem for a developer today is that, even if he gets very good information from Crashlytics, he can see what errors are happening and the events leading up to them, so he can debug and reproduce some of the errors. and fix them, they often have to move on to another tool,” explained Francis Ma, Firebase Product Manager. “This is a big first step where we’re bringing the Firebase experience into Android Studio.”
Given that Google today announced both its first in-house smartwatch and a new tablet, it’s perhaps also unsurprising that Android Studio is adding additional support for large-screen devices, including including tablets and foldables, as well as wearables. The idea behind Google’s “modern Android development” is, after all, that developers can learn to write apps for one form factor and then apply it to all the others. But foldables and wearables introduce their own UI challenges and developers may not always have access to them, which is why Android Studio now offers developers a unique resizable emulator that allows them to quickly test an app. on different form factors.
For WearOS in particular, the Android team is introducing a new way to build declarative user interfaces with the beta launch of the Compose UI SDK. A few other WearOS-related updates include the ability to see Wear devices in device manager and to pair multiple watch emulators to a single phone. Android Studio will now also remember these pairings after it closes.
Along the same lines, Jetpack, Google’s suite of reusable Android libraries that aims to help developers avoid (re)writing boilerplate code, is also getting some nice updates, especially on the side of Jetpack Compose UI, the company’s toolkit for building native Android user interfaces. The updated WindowsManger library now supports multi-window environments for large-screen devices, as well as the ability to scale apps to the physical state of a foldable device. There is also a new DragAndDrop library that allows developers to accept data by dragging and dropping both inside and outside of their application. This is obviously an increasingly common scenario on large-screen devices. Both of these libraries have now reached their stable 1.0 milestones.
And speaking of optimizing apps for large screens, Google itself also goes through a process where it updates its own apps like Photos, Gmail, YouTube Music, and YouTube for large-screen devices. As McBreen told me, the company is working to get all of its top 50 apps ready for big-screen devices by the end of the year. “The idea here is that we have to show the industry what we want to do, but we also have to make sure our advice and it makes sense – and so we’re working on those apps,” he said.