Author Archives: Android Developers

Congratulations to the finalists of the Indie Games Showcase from Google Play

Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Platforms & Ecosystems Developer Marketing

Google Play Indie Games Showcase Announcements gif

Back in March we opened submissions for the Indie Games Showcase, an international competition for games studios from Europe*, South Korea, and Japan who are constantly pushing the boundaries of storytelling, visual excellence, and creativity in mobile.

We were once again impressed by the diversity and creativity that the indie community is bringing to mobile, and we’re happy to announce the 20 finalists.

Check out the local websites to learn more about the finalists and the events.

European illustration with Eiffel Tower and Matryoshka dolls

Europe

Europe Finalists logos for Indie Games Showcase

AntVentor by LoopyMood (Ukraine)

CHUCHEL by Amanita Design (Czech Republic)

#DRIVE by Pixel Perfect Dude (Poland)

Fly THIS! By Northplay (Denmark)

Fobia by Tapteek (Russia)

G30 - A Memory Maze by Ivan Kovalov (Russia)

Gold Peaks by Afterburn (Poland)

Grayland by 1DER Entertainment (Slovakia)

Hexologic by MythicOwl (Poland)

Lucid Dream Adventure by Dali Games (Poland)

OCO by SPECTRUM48 (United Kingdom)

Ordia by Loju (United Kingdom)

Peep by Taw (Russia)

Photographs by EightyEight Games (United Kingdom)

Rest in Pieces by Itatake (Sweden)

Returner Zhero by Fantastic, yes (Denmark)

see/saw by Kamibox (Germany)

STAP by Overhead Game Studio (United Kingdom)

Tesla vs. Lovecraft by 10tons (Finland)

Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery by Kiary games (Russia)

mt.Fuji and other Japanese emblems

Japan

Japan Finalists logos for Indie Games Showcase

ALTER EGO by 株式会社カラメルカラム

Infection - 感染 - by CanvasSoft

Jumpion - Make a two-step jump ! by Comgate

Lunch Time Fish by SoftFunk HULABREAKS

MeltLand by 個人

ReversEstory by 個人

キグルミキノコ Q-bit -第一章- by 個人

SumoRoll - Road to the Yokozuna by Studio Kingmo

Escape Game: The Little Prince by 株式会社 Jammsworks

Kamiori - カミオリ by TeamOrigami

Bear's Restaurant by 個人

クマムシさん惑星 ミクロの地球最強伝説 by Ars Edutainment

ゴリラ!ゴリラ!ゴリラ!by Gang Gorilla Games

Girl x Sun - Terasene - Tower defence & Novel game by SleepingMuseum

タシテケス by 個人

Destination: Dragons! by GAME GABURI

Cute cat's cake shop by 個人

Persephone by Momo-pi

Hamcorollin' by illuCalab.

Food Truck Pup: Cooking Chef by 合同会社ゲームスタート

Korean space needle and temple

South Korea

South Korea Finalists logos for Indie Games Showcase

다크타운 - 온라인 by 초콜릿소프트

Bad 2 Bad: Extinction by Dawinstone

셧더펑 : 슈팅액션 by Take Five Games

Cartoon Craft by Studio NAP

Catch Idle by HalftimeStudio

Hexagon Dungeon by Bleor Games

Hexonia by Togglegear

Mahjong - Magic Fantasy by Aquagamez

Maze Cube by IAMABOY

Road to Valor: World War II by Dreamotion Inc.

Onslot Car by Wondersquad

ROOMS: The Toymaker's Mansion by HandMade Game

Rhythm Star: Music Adventure by Anbsoft

7Days - Decide your story by Buff Studio

Seoul2033: Backer by Banjiha Games

Super Jelly Pop by STARMONSTER

UNLINK Daily Puzzle by Supershock

몬스터파크 온라인 by OVENCODE

WhamBam Warriors by DrukHigh

언노운 나이츠 by teamarex

We will welcome all finalists at events in London, Seoul, and Tokyo, where they will showcase their games to an audience of players, press and industry experts, for a chance to win the top prizes.

The events are open to the public, so if you would like to meet these games developers, try out their creations, and help choose the winners, sign up on the regional websites.

Congratulations to all finalists!

* The competition is open to developers from the following European countries and Israel: Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland).

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Wide Color Photos Are Coming to Android: Things You Need to Know to be Prepared

Posted by Peiyong Lin, Software Engineer

Android is now at the point where sRGB color gamut with 8 bits per color channel is not enough to take advantage of the display and camera technology. At Android we have been working to make wide color photography happen end-to-end, e.g. more bits and bigger gamuts. This means, eventually users will be able to capture the richness of the scenes, share a wide color pictures with friends and view wide color pictures on their phones. And now with Android Q, it's starting to get really close to reality: wide color photography is coming to Android. So, it's very important to applications to be wide color gamut ready. This article will show how you can test your application to see whether it's wide color gamut ready and wide color gamut capable, and the steps you need to take to be ready for wide color gamut photography.

But before we dive in, why wide color photography? Display panels and camera sensors on mobile are getting better and better every year. More and more newly released phones will be shipped with calibrated display panels, some are wide color gamut capable. Modern camera sensors are capable of capturing scenes with a wider range of color outside of sRGB and thus produce wide color gamut pictures. And when these two come together, it creates an end-to-end photography experience with more vibrant colors of the real world.

At a technical level, this means there will be pictures coming to your application with an ICC profile that is not sRGB but some other wider color gamut: Display P3, Adobe RGB, etc. For consumers, this means their photos will look more realistic.

orange sunset

Display P3

orange sunset

SRGB

Colorful umbrellas

Display P3

Colorful umbrellas

SRGB

Above are images of the Display P3 version and the SRGB version respectively of the same scene. If you are reading this article on a calibrated and wide color gamut capable display, you can notice the significant difference between these them.

Color Tests

There are two kinds of tests you can perform to know whether your application is prepared or not. One is what we call color correctness tests, the other is wide color tests.

Color Correctness test: Is your application wide color gamut ready?

A wide color gamut ready application implies the application manages color proactively. This means when given images, the application always checks the color space and does conversion based on its capability of showing wide color gamut, and thus even if the application can't handle wide color gamut it can still show the sRGB color gamut of the image correctly without color distortion.

Below is a color correct example of an image with Display P3 ICC profile.

large round balloons outside on floor in front of a concrete wall

However, if your application is not color correct, then typically your application will end up manipulating/displaying the image without converting the color space correctly, resulting in color distortion. For example you may get the below image, where the color is washed-out and everything looks distorted.

large round balloons outside on floor in front of a concrete wall

Wide Color test: Is your application wide color gamut capable?

A wide color gamut capable application implies when given wide color gamut images, it can show the colors outside of sRGB color space. Here's an image you can use to test whether your application is wide color gamut capable or not, if it is, then a red Android logo will show up. Note that you must run this test on a wide color gamut capable device, for example a Pixel 3 or Samsung Galaxy S10.

red Android droid figure

What you should do to prepare

To prepare for wide color gamut photography, your application must at least pass the wide color gamut ready test, we call it color correctness test. If your application passes the wide color gamut ready tests, that's awesome! But if it doesn't, here are the steps to make it wide color gamut ready.

The key thing to be prepared and future proof is that your application should never assume sRGB color space of the external images it gets. This means application must check the color space of the decoded images, and do the conversion when necessary. Failure to do so will result in color distortion and color profile being discarded somewhere in your pipeline.

Mandatory: Be Color Correct

You must be at least color correct. If your application doesn't adopt wide color gamut, you are very likely to just want to decode every image to sRGB color space. You can do that by either using BitmapFactory or ImageDecoder.

Using BitmapFactory

In API 26, we added inPreferredColorSpace in BitmapFactory.Option, which allows you to specify the target color space you want the decoded bitmap to have. Let's say you want to decode a file, then below is the snippet you are very likely to use in order to manage the color:

final BitmapFactory.Options options = new BitmapFactory.Options();
// Decode this file to sRGB color space.
options.inPreferredColorSpace = ColorSpace.get(Named.SRGB);
Bitmap bitmap = BitmapFactory.decodeFile(FILE_PATH, options);

Using ImageDecoder

In Android P (API level 28), we introduced ImageDecoder, a modernized approach for decoding images. If you upgrade your apk to API level 28 or beyond, we recommend you to use it instead of the BitmapFactory and BitmapFactory.Option APIs.

Below is a snippet to decode the image to an sRGB bitmap using ImageDecoder#decodeBitmap API.

ImageDecoder.Source source =
        ImageDecoder.createSource(FILE_PATH);
try {
    bitmap = ImageDecoder.decodeBitmap(source,
            new ImageDecoder.OnHeaderDecodedListener() {
                @Override
                public void onHeaderDecoded(ImageDecoder decoder,
                        ImageDecoder.ImageInfo info,
                        ImageDecoder.Source source) {
                    decoder.setTargetColorSpace(ColorSpace.get(Named.SRGB));
                }
            });
} catch (IOException e) {
    // handle exception.
}

ImageDecoder also has the advantage to let you know the encoded color space of the bitmap before you get the final bitmap by passing an ImageDecoder.OnHeaderDecodedListener and checking ImageDecoder.ImageInfo#getColorSpace(). And thus, depending on how your applications handle color spaces, you can check the encoded color space of the contents and set the target color space differently.

ImageDecoder.Source source =
        ImageDecoder.createSource(FILE_PATH);
try {
    bitmap = ImageDecoder.decodeBitmap(source,
            new ImageDecoder.OnHeaderDecodedListener() {
                @Override
                public void onHeaderDecoded(ImageDecoder decoder,
                        ImageDecoder.ImageInfo info,
                        ImageDecoder.Source source) {
                    ColorSpace cs = info.getColorSpace();
                    // Do something...
                }
            });
} catch (IOException e) {
    // handle exception.
}

For more detailed usage you can check out the ImageDecoder APIs here.

Known bad practices

Some typical bad practices include but are not limited to:

  • Always assume sRGB color space
  • Upload image as texture without necessary conversion
  • Ignore the ICC profile during compression

All these cause a severe users perceived results: Color distortion. For example, below is a code snippet that results in the application not color correct:

// This is bad, don't do it!
final BitmapFactory.Options options = new BitmapFactory.Options();
final Bitmap bitmap = BitmapFactory.decodeFile(FILE_PATH, options);
glTexImage2D(GLES20.GL_TEXTURE_2D, 0, GLES31.GL_RGBA, bitmap.getWidth(),
        bitmap.getHeight(), 0, GLES20.GL_RGBA, GLES20.GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE, null);
GLUtils.texSubImage2D(GLES20.GL_TEXTURE_2D, 0, 0, 0, bitmap,
        GLES20.GL_RGBA, GLES20.GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE);

There's no color space checking before uploading the bitmap as the texture, and thus the application will end up with the below distorted image from the color correctness test.

large round balloons outside on floor in front of a concrete wall

Optional: Be wide color capable

Besides the above changes you must make in order to handle images correctly, if your applications are heavily image based, you will want to take additional steps to display these images in the full vibrant range by enabling the wide gamut mode in your manifest or creating a Display P3 surfaces.

To enable the wide color gamut in your activity, set the colorMode attribute to wideColorGamut in your AndroidManifest.xml file. You need to do this for each activity for which you want to enable wide color mode.

android:colorMode="wideColorGamut"

You can also set the color mode programmatically in your activity by calling the setColorMode(int) method and passing in COLOR_MODE_WIDE_COLOR_GAMUT.

To render wide color gamut contents, besides the wide color contents, you will also need to create a wide color gamut surfaces to render to. In OpenGL for example, your application must first check the following extensions:

And then, request the Display P3 as the color space when creating your surfaces, as shown in the following code snippet:

private static final int EGL_GL_COLORSPACE_DISPLAY_P3_PASSTHROUGH_EXT = 0x3490;

public EGLSurface createWindowSurface(EGL10 egl, EGLDisplay display,
                                      EGLConfig config, Object nativeWindow) {
  EGLSurface surface = null;
  try {
    int attribs[] = {
      EGL_GL_COLORSPACE_KHR, EGL_GL_COLORSPACE_DISPLAY_P3_PASSTHROUGH_EXT,
      egl.EGL_NONE
    };
    surface = egl.eglCreateWindowSurface(display, config, nativeWindow, attribs);
  } catch (IllegalArgumentException e) {}
  return surface;
}

Also check out our post about more details on how you can adopt wide color gamut in native code.

APIs design guideline for image library

Finally, if you own or maintain an image decoding/encoding library, you will need to at least pass the color correctness tests as well. To modernize your library, there are two things we strongly recommend you to do when you extend APIs to manage color:

  1. Strongly recommend to explicitly accept ColorSpace as a parameter when you design new APIs or extend existing APIs. Instead of hardcoding a color space, an explicit ColorSpace parameter is a more future-proof way moving forward.
  2. Strongly recommend all legacy APIs to explicitly decode the bitmap to sRGB color space. Historically there's no color management, and thus Android has been treating everything as sRGB implicitly until Android 8.0 (API level 26). This allows you to help your users maintain backward compatibility.

After you finish, go back to the above section and perform the two color tests.

Kotlin Is Everywhere! Join the global event series

Posted by Posted by Florina Muntenescu & Wojtek Kaliciński, Developer Advocates, Android

Last week at Google I/O, we announced a big step: Android development will become increasingly Kotlin-first. It’s a language that many of you already love: over 50% of professional Android developers now use Kotlin, and it’s the fastest-growing language on GitHub. As part of this announcement, many new Jetpack APIs and features will be offered first in Kotlin. So if you’re starting a new project, you should try writing it in Kotlin; code written in Kotlin often means much less code for you–less code to type, test, and maintain.

To help you dive deeper into Kotlin, we’re happy to announce a new program we’re launching together with JetBrains: Kotlin/Everywhere, a series of community-driven events focussing on the potential of Kotlin on all platforms. We are aiming to help learn the essentials and best practices of using Kotlin everywhere, be it for Android, back-end, front-end and other platforms.

Join the Kotlin/Everywhere global event series between June and December 2019.

Who can attend the events?

Whether you are a developer, a speaker, a Kotlin User Group, a Google Developer Group member or any other community leader join us. Anyone interested in learning Kotlin and its ecosystem, sharing knowledge, and hosting a Kotlin-focused event is welcome to attend.

If you are a developer wanting to learn more about Kotlin, or a speaker excited to share your Kotlin experience with others, you can find events near you to join. Just go to the map on the website. More events will be added over time.

How to host your Kotlin/Everywhere event?

If you want to host an event in your city, you can begin by checking out the detailed organizers’ guide. It will help you to decide on the format and what kind of support you might need. All the necessary tips and tricks, materials, and branding assets are inside. Go ahead and submit your event on the official web page.

Besides the detailed organizers’ guide, we also provide you with resources such as content, codelabs, and guidance to help you maximize your success. You can also apply for support: we have speakers from Google/JetBrains and can help by providing funding for venue, food and drinks, swag, or other. We will also list your event on the official website.

Still have questions? Ask them at our hangout sessions for organizers on May 16 and 17.

Let us know if you want to take part! Apply at kotl.in/everywhere

New! Learn How to Build Android Apps with Android Jetpack and Kotlin

Posted by Dan Galpin

Developing Android Apps with Kotlin, developed by Google together with Udacity, is our newly-released, free, self-paced online course. You'll learn how to build Android apps using industry-standard tools and libraries in the Kotlin programming language.

Android development fundamentals are taught in the context of an architecture that provides the scaffolding for robust, maintainable applications. The course covers why and how to use Android Jetpack components such as Room for databases, Work Manager for background processing, the Navigation component, and more. You'll use popular community libraries to simplify common tasks such as Glide for image loading, Retrofit for networking, and Moshi for JSON parsing. The course teaches key Kotlin features such as coroutines to help you write your app code more quickly and concisely.

As you work through the course, you'll build fun and interesting apps, such as a Mars photo gallery, a trivia game, a sleep tracker and much more.

Two mobile phones with flow chart in between depicting the difference between an over view and details.
Three screens for Android Navigation Component Trivia screen on mobile

This course is intended for people who have programming experience and are comfortable with Kotlin basics. If you're new to the Kotlin language, we recommend taking the Udacity Kotlin Bootcamp course first.

The course is available free, online at Udacity; take it in your own time at your own pace.

Come learn how to build Android apps in Kotlin with us at https://www.udacity.com/course/ud9012.

Supporting Google Play developers regarding local market withholding tax regulations

Posted by Gloria On, Program Manager, Google Play

Many developers are increasingly focused on growing their businesses globally, and there were more than 94 billion apps downloaded from Google Play in the last year, reaching more than 190 countries. The regulatory environment is frequently changing in local markets, and in some countries local governments have implemented withholding tax requirements on transactions with which Google or our payment processor partners must comply. We strive to help both developers and Google meet local tax requirements in markets where we do business, and where Google or our payment processor partners are required to withhold taxes, we may need to deduct those amounts from our payments to developers.

Due to new requirements in some markets, we'll be rolling out withholding taxes soon to all those doing business in those countries. We wanted to bring this to the attention of Google Play developers to allow you time to prepare for these upcoming changes and take any necessary measures to meet these obligations. We strongly recommend developers consult with a professional tax advisor on your individual tax implications in affected markets and for guidance on the potential impact on your business so that you can make any necessary preparations.

The first countries where we will roll out these changes will be Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Myanmar. You can refer to the Google Play help center page to stay informed on future updates and changes.

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Queue the Hardening Enhancements

Posted by Jeff Vander Stoep, Android Security & Privacy Team and Chong Zhang, Android Media Team

Android Q Beta versions are now publicly available. Among the various new features introduced in Android Q are some important security hardening changes. While exciting new security features are added in each Android release, hardening generally refers to security improvements made to existing components.

When prioritizing platform hardening, we analyze data from a number of sources including our vulnerability rewards program (VRP). Past security issues provide useful insight into which components can use additional hardening. Android publishes monthly security bulletins which include fixes for all the high/critical severity vulnerabilities in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) reported through our VRP. While fixing vulnerabilities is necessary, we also get a lot of value from the metadata - analysis on the location and class of vulnerabilities. With this insight we can apply the following strategies to our existing components:

  • Contain: isolating and de-privileging components, particularly ones that handle untrusted content. This includes:
    • Access control: adding permission checks, increasing the granularity of permission checks, or switching to safer defaults (for example, default deny).
    • Attack surface reduction: reducing the number of entry/exit points (i.e. principle of least privilege).
    • Architectural decomposition: breaking privileged processes into less privileged components and applying attack surface reduction.
  • Mitigate: Assume vulnerabilities exist and actively defend against classes of vulnerabilities or common exploitation techniques.

Here’s a look at high severity vulnerabilities by component and cause from 2018:

Most of Android’s vulnerabilities occur in the media and bluetooth components. Use-after-free (UAF), integer overflows, and out of bounds (OOB) reads/writes comprise 90% of vulnerabilities with OOB being the most common.

A Constrained Sandbox for Software Codecs

In Android Q, we moved software codecs out of the main mediacodec service into a constrained sandbox. This is a big step forward in our effort to improve security by isolating various media components into less privileged sandboxes. As Mark Brand of Project Zero points out in his Return To Libstagefright blog post, constrained sandboxes are not where an attacker wants to end up. In 2018, approximately 80% of the critical/high severity vulnerabilities in media components occurred in software codecs, meaning further isolating them is a big improvement. Due to the increased protection provided by the new mediaswcodec sandbox, these same vulnerabilities will receive a lower severity based on Android’s severity guidelines.

The following figure shows an overview of the evolution of media services layout in the recent Android releases.

  • Prior to N, media services are all inside one monolithic mediaserver process, and the extractors run inside the client.
  • In N, we delivered a major security re-architect, where a number of lower-level media services are spun off into individual service processes with reduced privilege sandboxes. Extractors are moved into server side, and put into a constrained sandbox. Only a couple of higher-level functionalities remained in mediaserver itself.
  • In O, the services are “treblized,” and further deprivileged that is, separated into individual sandboxes and converted into HALs. The media.codec service became a HAL while still hosting both software and hardware codec implementations.
  • In Q, the software codecs are extracted from the media.codec process, and moved back to system side. It becomes a system service that exposes the codec HAL interface. Selinux policy and seccomp filters are further tightened up for this process. In particular, while the previous mediacodec process had access to device drivers for hardware accelerated codecs, the software codec process has no access to device drivers.

With this move, we now have the two primary sources for media vulnerabilities tightly sandboxed within constrained processes. Software codecs are similar to extractors in that they both have extensive code parsing bitstreams from untrusted sources. Once a vulnerability is identified in the source code, it can be triggered by sending a crafted media file to media APIs (such as MediaExtractor or MediaCodec). Sandboxing these two services allows us to reduce the severity of potential security vulnerabilities without compromising performance.

In addition to constraining riskier codecs, a lot of work has also gone into preventing common types of vulnerabilities.

Bound Sanitizer

Incorrect or missing memory bounds checking on arrays account for about 34% of Android’s userspace vulnerabilities. In cases where the array size is known at compile time, LLVM’s bound sanitizer (BoundSan) can automatically instrument arrays to prevent overflows and fail safely.

BoundSan instrumentation

BoundSan is enabled in 11 media codecs and throughout the Bluetooth stack for Android Q. By optimizing away a number of unnecessary checks the performance overhead was reduced to less than 1%. BoundSan has already found/prevented potential vulnerabilities in codecs and Bluetooth.

More integer sanitizer in more places

Android pioneered the production use of sanitizers in Android Nougat when we first started rolling out integer sanization (IntSan) in the media frameworks. This work has continued with each release and has been very successful in preventing otherwise exploitable vulnerabilities. For example, new IntSan coverage in Android Pie mitigated 11 critical vulnerabilities. Enabling IntSan is challenging because overflows are generally benign and unsigned integer overflows are well defined and sometimes intentional. This is quite different from the bound sanitizer where OOB reads/writes are always unintended and often exploitable. Enabling Intsan has been a multi year project, but with Q we have fully enabled it across the media frameworks with the inclusion of 11 more codecs.

IntSan Instrumentation

IntSan works by instrumenting arithmetic operations to abort when an overflow occurs. This instrumentation can have an impact on performance, so evaluating the impact on CPU usage is necessary. In cases where performance impact was too high, we identified hot functions and individually disabled IntSan on those functions after manually reviewing them for integer safety.

BoundSan and IntSan are considered strong mitigations because (where applied) they prevent the root cause of memory safety vulnerabilities. The class of mitigations described next target common exploitation techniques. These mitigations are considered to be probabilistic because they make exploitation more difficult by limiting how a vulnerability may be used.

Shadow Call Stack

LLVM’s Control Flow Integrity (CFI) was enabled in the media frameworks, Bluetooth, and NFC in Android Pie. CFI makes code reuse attacks more difficult by protecting the forward-edges of the call graph, such as function pointers and virtual functions. Android Q uses LLVM’s Shadow Call Stack (SCS) to protect return addresses, protecting the backwards-edge of control flow graph. SCS accomplishes this by storing return addresses in a separate shadow stack which is protected from leakage by storing its location in the x18 register, which is now reserved by the compiler.

SCS Instrumentation

SCS has negligible performance overhead and a small memory increase due to the separate stack. In Android Q, SCS has been turned on in portions of the Bluetooth stack and is also available for the kernel. We’ll share more on that in an upcoming post.

eXecute-Only Memory

Like SCS, eXecute-Only Memory (XOM) aims at making common exploitation techniques more expensive. It does so by strengthening the protections already provided by address space layout randomization (ASLR) which in turn makes code reuse attacks more difficult by requiring attackers to first leak the location of the code they intend to reuse. This often means that an attacker now needs two vulnerabilities, a read primitive and a write primitive, where previously just a write primitive was necessary in order to achieve their goals. XOM protects against leaks (memory disclosures of code segments) by making code unreadable. Attempts to read execute-only code results in the process aborting safely.

Tombstone from a XOM abort

Starting in Android Q, platform-provided AArch64 code segments in binaries and libraries are loaded as execute-only. Not all devices will immediately receive the benefit as this enforcement has hardware dependencies (ARMv8.2+) and kernel dependencies (Linux 4.9+, CONFIG_ARM64_UAO). For apps with a targetSdkVersion lower than Q, Android’s zygote process will relax the protection in order to avoid potential app breakage, but 64 bit system processes (for example, mediaextractor, init, vold, etc.) are protected. XOM protections are applied at compile-time and have no memory or CPU overhead.

Scudo Hardened Allocator

Scudo is a dynamic heap allocator designed to be resilient against heap related vulnerabilities such as:

  • Use-after-frees: by quarantining freed blocks.
  • Double-frees: by tracking chunk states.
  • Buffer overflows: by check summing headers.
  • Heap sprays and layout manipulation: by improved randomization.

Scudo does not prevent exploitation but rather proactively manages memory in a way to make exploitation more difficult. It is configurable on a per-process basis depending on performance requirements. Scudo is enabled in extractors and codecs in the media frameworks.

Tombstone from Scudo aborts

Contributing security improvements to Open Source

AOSP makes use of a number of Open Source Projects to build and secure Android. Google is actively contributing back to these projects in a number of security critical areas:

Thank you to Ivan Lozano, Kevin Deus, Kostya Kortchinsky, Kostya Serebryany, and Mike Logan for their contributions to this post.

What’s New in Android Q Security

Posted by Rene Mayrhofer and Xiaowen Xin, Android Security & Privacy Team

With every new version of Android, one of our top priorities is raising the bar for security. Over the last few years, these improvements have led to measurable progress across the ecosystem, and 2018 was no different.

In the 4th quarter of 2018, we had 84% more devices receiving a security update than in the same quarter the prior year. At the same time, no critical security vulnerabilities affecting the Android platform were publicly disclosed without a security update or mitigation available in 2018, and we saw a 20% year-over-year decline in the proportion of devices that installed a Potentially Harmful App. In the spirit of transparency, we released this data and more in our Android Security & Privacy 2018 Year In Review.

But now you may be asking, what’s next?

Today at Google I/O we lifted the curtain on all the new security features being integrated into Android Q. We plan to go deeper on each feature in the coming weeks and months, but first wanted to share a quick summary of all the security goodness we’re adding to the platform.

Encryption

Storage encryption is one of the most fundamental (and effective) security technologies, but current encryption standards require devices have cryptographic acceleration hardware. Because of this requirement many devices are not capable of using storage encryption. The launch of Adiantum changes that in the Android Q release. We announced Adiantum in February. Adiantum is designed to run efficiently without specialized hardware, and can work across everything from smart watches to internet-connected medical devices.

Our commitment to the importance of encryption continues with the Android Q release. All compatible Android devices newly launching with Android Q are required to encrypt user data, with no exceptions. This includes phones, tablets, televisions, and automotive devices. This will ensure the next generation of devices are more secure than their predecessors, and allow the next billion people coming online for the first time to do so safely.

However, storage encryption is just one half of the picture, which is why we are also enabling TLS 1.3 support by default in Android Q. TLS 1.3 is a major revision to the TLS standard finalized by the IETF in August 2018. It is faster, more secure, and more private. TLS 1.3 can often complete the handshake in fewer roundtrips, making the connection time up to 40% faster for those sessions. From a security perspective, TLS 1.3 removes support for weaker cryptographic algorithms, as well as some insecure or obsolete features. It uses a newly-designed handshake which fixes several weaknesses in TLS 1.2. The new protocol is cleaner, less error prone, and more resilient to key compromise. Finally, from a privacy perspective, TLS 1.3 encrypts more of the handshake to better protect the identities of the participating parties.

Platform Hardening

Android utilizes a strategy of defense-in-depth to ensure that individual implementation bugs are insufficient for bypassing our security systems. We apply process isolation, attack surface reduction, architectural decomposition, and exploit mitigations to render vulnerabilities more difficult or impossible to exploit, and to increase the number of vulnerabilities needed by an attacker to achieve their goals.

In Android Q, we have applied these strategies to security critical areas such as media, Bluetooth, and the kernel. We describe these improvements more extensively in a separate blog post, but some highlights include:

  • A constrained sandbox for software codecs.
  • Increased production use of sanitizers to mitigate entire classes of vulnerabilities in components that process untrusted content.
  • Shadow Call Stack, which provides backward-edge Control Flow Integrity (CFI) and complements the forward-edge protection provided by LLVM’s CFI.
  • Protecting Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) against leaks using eXecute-Only Memory (XOM).
  • Introduction of Scudo hardened allocator which makes a number of heap related vulnerabilities more difficult to exploit.

Authentication

Android Pie introduced the BiometricPrompt API to help apps utilize biometrics, including face, fingerprint, and iris. Since the launch, we’ve seen a lot of apps embrace the new API, and now with Android Q, we’ve updated the underlying framework with robust support for face and fingerprint. Additionally, we expanded the API to support additional use-cases, including both implicit and explicit authentication.

In the explicit flow, the user must perform an action to proceed, such as tap their finger to the fingerprint sensor. If they’re using face or iris to authenticate, then the user must click an additional button to proceed. The explicit flow is the default flow and should be used for all high-value transactions such as payments.

Implicit flow does not require an additional user action. It is used to provide a lighter-weight, more seamless experience for transactions that are readily and easily reversible, such as sign-in and autofill.

Another handy new feature in BiometricPrompt is the ability to check if a device supports biometric authentication prior to invoking BiometricPrompt. This is useful when the app wants to show an “enable biometric sign-in” or similar item in their sign-in page or in-app settings menu. To support this, we’ve added a new BiometricManager class. You can now call the canAuthenticate() method in it to determine whether the device supports biometric authentication and whether the user is enrolled.

What’s Next?

Beyond Android Q, we are looking to add Electronic ID support for mobile apps, so that your phone can be used as an ID, such as a driver’s license. Apps such as these have a lot of security requirements and involves integration between the client application on the holder’s mobile phone, a reader/verifier device, and issuing authority backend systems used for license issuance, updates, and revocation.

This initiative requires expertise around cryptography and standardization from the ISO and is being led by the Android Security and Privacy team. We will be providing APIs and a reference implementation of HALs for Android devices in order to ensure the platform provides the building blocks for similar security and privacy sensitive applications. You can expect to hear more updates from us on Electronic ID support in the near future.

What’s New with Android Jetpack

Posted by Karen Ng, Group Product Manager and Jisha Abubaker, Product Manager, Android

Last year, we launched Android Jetpack, a collection of software components designed to accelerate Android development and make writing high-quality apps easier. Jetpack was built with you in mind -- to take the hardest, most common developer problems on Android and make your lives easier.

Jetpack has seen incredible adoption and momentum. Today, 80% of the top 1,000 apps in the Play store are using Jetpack. We’ve also heard feedback from so many of you across our early access developer programs and user studies, as well as Reddit, Stack Overflow, and Slack, that has helped shape these APIs. Very humbly, thank you.

What’s New in Jetpack

Today, we are excited to share with you 11 Jetpack libraries that can be used in development now and an early-development, open-source project called Jetpack Compose to simplify UI development.

Now in Alpha

CameraX

We've heard from many of you that developing camera apps or integrating camera functionality within your existing apps is hard. With the new CameraX library, we want to enable you to create great camera-driven experiences in your application without worrying about the underlying device behavior. This API is backwards compatible to Android 5.0 (API 21) or higher, ensuring that the same code works on most devices in the market. While it leverages the capabilities of camera2, it uses a simpler, use case-based approach that is lifecycle-aware eliminating significant amount of boilerplate code vs camera2. Finally, it enables you to access the same functionality as the native camera app on supported devices. These optional Extensions enable features like Portrait, Night, HDR, and Beauty.

LiveData and Lifecycles w/ coroutines

We heard you loud and clear and agree that LiveData must support your common one-shot asynchronous operations. With Lifecycle & LiveData KTX, you can do so with Kotlin coroutines that are lifecycle-aware. Kotlin coroutines have been well received by the developer community for how they simplify the way concurrency is handled within Android apps. We want to simplify it even further and enabling you to use them safely by offering coroutine scopes tied to lifecycles, coroutine dispatchers that are lifecycle-aware, and support for simple asynchronous chains with the new liveData builder.

Benchmark

The Benchmark library provides you a quick way to benchmark your app code, whether it is written in Kotlin, the Java programming language or native code. We use this library to continuously benchmark Jetpack libraries we release to ensure we do not introduce any latency into your code. You can now do the same right within your development environment in Android Studio, easily measuring database queries, view inflation, or a RecyclerView scroll. The library takes care of what is needed to provide reliable and consistent results like handling warm-up periods, removing outliers, and locking CPU clocks.

Security

To maximize security of an application’s data at-rest, the new Security library implements security best practices for you. It provides strong security that balances encryption with performance for consumer apps like banking and chat. It also provides a maximum level of security for apps that require a hardware-backed keystore with user presence and simplifies many operations including key generation and validation.

ViewModel with SavedState

ViewModel provided you an easy way to save your UI data in the event of a configuration change. It did not save your app state in the event of process death, and many of you have been relying on SavedInstanceState alongside ViewModel. With the ViewModel with SavedState module, you can eliminate boilerplate code and gain the benefits of using both ViewModel and SavedState with simple APIs to save and retrieve data right from your ViewModel.

ViewPager2

ViewPager2, the next generation of ViewPager, is now based on RecyclerView and supports vertical scrolling and RTL (Right-to-Left) layouts. It also provides a much easier way to listen for page data changes with registerOnPageChangeCallback.

Now in Beta

ConstraintLayout 2.0

ConstraintLayout 2.0 brings up new optimizations, and new way of customizing layouts, with the addition of helper classes. As part of ConstraintLayout 2.0, MotionLayout provides an easy way to manage motion and widget animation in your applications. You can easily describe transitions between layouts and animation of properties. MotionLayout is fully declarative in XML, allowing you to describe even complex transitions without requiring any code.

Biometrics Prompt

Users are accustomed to biometric credentials on their phones, but if your app requires a biometric login, it is important to make sure that users are provided a consistent and safe way to enter their credentials. The Biometrics library provides a simple system prompt giving the user a trustworthy experience.

Enterprise

With the Jetpack Enterprise library, your managed enterprise apps can send feedback back to Enterprise Mobility Management providers in the form of keyed app states, while taking advantage of backwards compatibility with managed configurations.

Android for Cars

With the Android for Cars libraries, you can provide your users a driver-optimized version of your app that will be automatically installed onto the vehicle’s infotainment system in vehicles equipped with the Android Automotive OS. It also allows your apps to work with the Android Auto app, providing the driver-optimized version anytime on their device.

Now in Stable

And in case you missed it, we announced stable releases of Jetpack WorkManager (background processing) and Jetpack Navigation (in-app navigation) just a few months ago.

Jetpack Compose

Today, we open-sourced an early preview of Jetpack Compose, a new unbundled toolkit designed to simplify UI development by combining a reactive programming model with the conciseness and ease-of-use of Kotlin. We have always done our best work when we did it with you - our developer community. That’s why we decided to develop Jetpack Compose in the open, starting today.

In that vein, we took a step back and chatted with many of you. We heard strong feedback from developers that they like the modern, reactive APIs that Flutter, React Native, Litho, and Vue.js represent. We also heard that developers love Kotlin, with over 53% of professional Android developers using it and with 20% higher language satisfaction ratings than the Java programming language. Kotlin has become the fastest-growing language in terms of number of contributors on GitHub.

So, we decided to invest in the reactive approach to declarative programming and create an easier way to build UIs with Kotlin.

We are building Compose with a few core principles:

  • Build with the benefits that Kotlin brings -- concise, safe, and fully interoperable with the Java programming language. Designed to drastically reduce the amount of boilerplate code you have to write, so you can focus on your app code, and help avoid entire classes of errors.
  • Fully declarative for defining UI components, including drawing and creating custom layouts. Simply describe your UI as a set of composable functions, and the framework handles UI optimizations and updates to the view hierarchy under the hood.
  • Provide reusable building blocks that let you build custom widgets easier, and without starting from scratch.
  • Compatible with existing views so you can mix and match and adopt at your own pace with direct access to all of the Android and Jetpack APIs.
  • Material Design out of the box and animations from the start, so it’s easy to create beautiful apps that are full of motion.
  • Accelerate development with tools like live preview and apply changes.

A Compose application is made up of composable functions that transform application data into a UI hierarchy. A function is all you need to create a new UI component. To create a composable function just add the @Composable annotation to the function name. Under the hood, Compose uses a custom Kotlin compiler plug-in so when the underlying data changes, the composable functions can be re-invoked to generate an updated UI hierarchy. The simple example below prints a string to the screen.

We know that adopting any new framework is a big change for existing projects and codebases, which is why we’ve designed Compose like all of Jetpack -- with individual components that you can adopt at your own pace and are compatible with existing views.

If you want to learn more about Jetpack Compose or download its source to try it for yourself, check out http://d.android.com/jetpackcompose

We'd love to hear from you as we iterate on this exciting future together. Send us feedback by posting comments below, and please file any bugs you run into on AOSP or directly through the feedback buttons in the Android Studio Jetpack Compose build in AOSP. Since this is an early preview, we do not recommend trying this on any production projects.

Happy Jetpacking!

I/O 2019: New features to help you develop, release, and grow your business on Google Play

Posted by Kobi Glick, Product Lead, Google Play

Play and #io19 logos with geometric shapes

Over the last 10 years, we’ve worked together to build an incredible ecosystem with more than 2.5 billion active users in over 190 countries. This would not be possible without you and all the fantastic apps and games you’ve built that entertain, help, and educate people around the world.

Every month, you upload more than 750,000 APKs and app bundles to the Play Console. We’ve been amazed by your enthusiasm, and it’s been our privilege to help you grow your business. This year, we want to help you go even further. So today at Google I/O, we're announcing new tools and features to help you develop, release, and grow your apps and games — many of them based on your feedback and suggestions.

Efficient, modular apps and customizable feature delivery

Last year we introduced Android's new publishing format, the Android App Bundle, and an entirely new dynamic delivery framework on Google Play. There are now over 80,000 apps and games using app bundles in production, with an average size savings of 20%. As a result of those savings, apps have seen up to 11% install uplift. As the future of app delivery, we’re excited to share these latest enhancements to the Android App Bundle.

Dynamic features are out of beta and available to all developers, including these new delivery options:

  • On-demand delivery — install features when they’re needed or in the background, instead of delivering them at install time, and reduce the size of your app.
  • Conditional delivery — control which parts of your app to deliver at the time of install based on the user’s country, device features, or minimum SDK version.
  • Instant experiences — now fully supported, so you only need to upload one artifact for your installed app and Google Play Instant experiences.

During our beta program, many developers implemented interesting use cases with dynamic features. Netflix, for example, now delivers their customer support functionality as a dynamic feature to users who visit the support center. By making functionality available only to users who need it, Netflix reported a 33% reduction in app size. You can learn more in the video below.

Seamless internal testing and increased security

We heard you loud and clear: testing bundles is hard. But with the new internal app sharing, you can now share test builds in a matter of seconds. Just upload your app bundle to Google Play and get a download URL to share with your testers. You don’t need to worry about version codes, signing keys, or most other validations that your production releases need to conform to.

In addition to efficiency and modularity, the Android App Bundle also now offers increased security with the launch of app signing key upgrade for new installs. With this feature, you can upgrade the cryptographic strength of your signing key for new installs and their updates on Google Play. Many developers sign their apps with keys generated a long time ago, and this new feature is the only backwards-compatible way to increase their strength.

Easier for users to update

Although auto-updates reach many users, you told us it was still challenging to get some users to update your apps. Now that our new in-app updates API is in general availability, users will be able to update without ever leaving your app. During our early access program, many developers used our API to create a polished upgrade flow, resulting in a median acceptance rate of about 50%.

The API currently supports two flows:

  • The “immediate” flow is a full-screen user experience that guides the user from download to update before they can use your app.
  • The “flexible flow” allows users to download the update while continuing to use your app.
Two iPhones side by side. The first on displaying Immediate update flow with a pop up recommending an update. The second displaying Flexible update flow with a pop up recommending an update.

Stronger decision-making with new Google Play Console data

The right data can help you improve your app performance and grow your business. That’s why we’re excited to tell you about new metrics and insights that will help you better measure your app health and analyze your performance.

  • Core metrics refresh — better understand your acquisition and churn, including data on returning users, automatic change analysis, install method (such as pre-installs and peer-to-peer sharing), metric benchmarking, and the ability to aggregate and dedupe over periods from hours to quarters.
  • App size metrics and reports — gain insights about your app size in Android vitals, including download size, size on device (at install time), changes compared to peers over time, and tailored optimization recommendations.
  • Developer-selected peer benchmarks — create a custom set of 8-12 peers to compare your app to, then see the median value of the set and the difference between your app and its peers for Android vitals data as well as for public metrics like your rating.
  • Market insights with curated peersets — in the coming months, you’ll also be able to compare your growth against an automatically generated, curated peerset of around 100 apps similar to yours for business-sensitive metrics like conversion rate and uninstall rate.
Android Vitals Overview dashboard on Peer group screen

Making it easier to respond to and improve user reviews

We’re also making big changes to another key source of performance data: your user reviews. Many of you told us that you want a rating that reflects a more current version of your app, not what it was years ago — and we agree. So instead of a lifetime cumulative value, your Google Play Store rating will be recalculated to give more weight to your most recent ratings. Users won’t see the updated rating in the Google Play Store until August, but you can preview your new rating in the Google Play Console today.

Every day, developers respond to more than 100,000 reviews in the Play Console, and when they do, we’ve seen that users update their rating by +0.7 stars on average. So in addition to the ratings change, we're making it easier to respond to reviews with suggested replies. When you go to respond to a user, you’ll see three suggested replies which have been created automatically based on the content of the review. You can choose to send one as-suggested, customize a suggestion for more personalization, or create your own message from scratch. Suggested replies are available in English now with additional languages coming later.

Google user review with suggested replies in Beta.

Better Google Play Store listing targeting and customization

Your store listing is where users come to learn more about your app or game and decide whether to install. It’s important real estate, so we’re releasing new features that let you optimize your Google Play Store to address different moments in the user lifecycle.

  • Following the launch of custom listings by country at GDC, we’re announcing a new early access program that lets you create custom listings by install state. Increase acquisition, retention, and re-engagement by providing customized marketing messages for users who haven’t installed your app, users who have your app, and users who have uninstalled your app. If you’re interested in joining the program, sign up here.
  • Now that pre-registration is available to all developers, we’re launching two new features to help you make the most of it: custom listing pages for pre-registration and pre-registration rewards, which let you incentivize players for signing up for notifications before you launch.

Learn more about these and other Google Play features at Google I/O. Join us live or watch later on the Android Developers YouTube channel.

You can also take your skills and knowledge to the next level with our e-learning courses on Google Play’s Academy for App Success, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with our latest features and updates.

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Android Studio 3.5 Beta

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Android Studio 3.5 Beta is ready to download today. Last year, at Google I/O, we heard from many of you that you wanted us to focus even more on quality and stability over features. Consequently, we kicked off Project Marble, focused on making the fundamental features and flows of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) rock-solid. Android Studio 3.5 is the culmination of this effort. The results of Project Marble are focused on three core areas: system health, feature polish, and bugs. We are seeking your final round of feedback to make sure we didn't miss a key area that matters to you, so download Android Studio 3.5 on the beta channel today to let us know what you think.

Many times it can be difficult to see the range of changes that go into a quality release. Therefore, this post and our Google I/O talk on What’s New in Android Development Tools walk through a variety of changes in each of the major focus areas of Project Marble within Android Studio 3.5. We are certainly not done improving quality with Android Studio, but with the work and new infrastructure put into Project Marble for long term quality tracking we hope that you are even more productive in developing Android apps.

What's New in Android Development Tools (Google I/O'19)

System Health - Memory

One of the major points of feedback on Android Studio is how slow the IDE runs over time. Many times the reason behind this experience is due to unexpectedly reaching memory pressure or IDE memory leaks. We dug into this area, and as part of Project Marble, we have addressed over 33 impactful memory leaks. To identify leaks, we now measure out-of-memory exceptions on an internal dashboard on an on-going basis for those who opt-in to share data with us which enables us to focus and fix the most impactful issues. Starting with Android Studio 3.5, when the IDE runs out of memory, we capture some high level statistics about the size of the memory heap and dominant objects in the heap. With this data the IDE can do two things: suggest better memory settings and offer to do a deeper memory analysis.

  • Auto-recommend Memory Settings - By default, Android Studio has a maximum memory heap size of 1.2 GB. For those of you with large projects this amount may not be enough. Even if you have a machine with a large amount of RAM, the IDE will not exceed this value. With Android Studio 3.5, the IDE will recognize when an app project needs more RAM on a machine with higher RAM capacity and will notify you to increase the memory heap size in a notification. Alternatively, you can make adjusts in the new settings panel under Appearance & Behavior Memory Settings.

Memory Settings

  • Easier to report memory problems with Memory Heap Analysis - It can sometimes be hard to capture and reproduce memory problems to report them to the Android Studio team. To solve this, Android Studio 3.5 allows you to trigger a memory heap dump (Help → Analyze Memory Use) that the IDE locally sanitizes for personal data, analyzes, and creates a report. You can opt to share this memory usage report with the Android Studio team to troubleshoot performance problems.

Memory Usage Report

System Health - Exceptions

We have revamped our exception process backend pipeline. Now with the opt-in data we have earlier signals of common exceptions in aggregate which lets us prioritize and fix issues earlier in the canary release process than before. Moreover, we reduced the amount of times we prompt you for exceptions, since the analytics and opt-in crash reports are now more actionable for our team. The net result is that you should see the blinky red exception report icon in the lower status bar of the IDE less frequently.

Android Studio Exception Bubble

System Health - User Interface Freezes

User Interface (UI) freezes are another common issue we heard from you. In Android Studio 3.5, we extended the infrastructure of the underlying Intellij platform, and now measure UI thread stops that last longer than a few moments. Over time, we will have a bigger picture of the top hit spots to focus our efforts on. For example, during the Project Marble development, we found in our data that XML code editing was notably slower in the IDE. With this data point, we optimized XML typing, and have measurably better performance in Android Studio 3.5. You can see below that editing data binding expressions in XML is faster due to typing latency improvements.

Code Editing Before - Android Studio 3.4 (left) and Code Editing After - Android Studio 3.5 (right)

System Health - Build Speed

We continued our investment in build speed. For those developers with larger projects, it is the number one concern. As we uncovered in our recent Medium blog post on build speed, many elements can affect build performance, sometimes slowing it down more than we can improve. However, during Project Marble, we made speed improvements by adding incremental build support to the top annotation processors including Glide, AndroidX data binding, Dagger, Realm, and Kotlin (KAPT). Incremental support can make a notable impact on build speed. For example, in our preliminary analysis, adding incremental support just for Kotlin has improved submodule non-ABI code changes for the Google I/O schedule app from 9.1 seconds to 3.6 seconds – a 60% improvement. Read more about the performance changes to the build system here.

System Health - IDE Speed

In the past, a pro-tip some developers used to do is to turn off Android Studio plugins such as Android NDK support to improve performance. While there is nothing wrong with disabling plugins to remove extra menus or options that you don't need, we removed some unnecessary performance hotspots for the Android NDK support that impacted overall IDE speed.

System Health - Lint Code Analysis

Android Lint is a code analysis framework in Android Studio that helps identify common programming mistakes. However, we learned from several user reports that Lint could be too slow—especially when running in batch analysis mode on large projects. After some digging, we found and fixed several large memory leaks, leading to a roughly 2x speedup in Lint performance. We also published a profiling tool that can help identify bottlenecks in individual Lint checks. Read more about the analysis and tool here.

System Health - I/O File Access for Windows

Many users of Android Studio use Microsoft Windows. Over time, we received a range of reports from users on this platform that build times and installation speeds were increasingly getting slower. After investigating the problem during Project Marble, we realized that recent anti-virus programs included Android Studio build and installation directories as active scan targets. Since these folders have many small files created and removed over time, the I/O and CPU are partially taxed and consequently impacts the overall build/sync performance of Android Studio.

Google Internal Data, 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, April 2019

  • System Health Check - Starting with Android Studio 3.5, the IDE will check various directories that could be impacted by this slowdown, including the project build directory, and compare them against the list of excluded antivirus directories. If Android Studio finds an inconsistency, you will see a pop-up notification and link to help guide you through the optimal setup. Learn more here .

System Health Notification - Anti-virus Check

System Health - Emulator CPU Usage

Many app developers enjoy the fast and responsive emulator which has had dramatic performance improvements in the last few years. However, we heard from you that the Android Emulator seems to take an inordinate amount of CPU cycles and triggers the cooling fans on laptops even when the emulator is idle in the background. After investigation and measurement, we found that Google Play Services and related services were aggressively running in the background because by default the emulator was set to AC charging instead of battery discharging. We switched the default to battery discharging, and background CPU usage declined by more than 3x. This change is just of the many optimizations we made to the Android Emulator during Project Marble. Learn more about the Android Emulator and Project Marble here.

Google Internal Data on Apple MacBook Pro (15” 2016), Emulator: Pixel 3 API 28

Feature Polish - Apply Changes

Being able to quickly edit and see code changes you have made without restarting your app is great for app development. Two years ago, the Instant Run feature was our attempt to enable this flow, but it ultimately fell short of expectations. During the Project Marble time period, we re-architectured and implemented from the ground-up a more practical approach in Android Studio 3.5 called Apply Changes. Apply Changes uses platform-specific APIs from Android Oreo and higher to ensure reliable and consistent behavior; unlike Instant Run, Apply Changes does not modify your APK. To support the changes, we re-architected the entire deployment pipeline to improve deployment speed, and also tweaked the run and deployment toolbar buttons for a more streamlined experience. Learn more about the architecture behind Apply Changes here.

Apply Changes Buttons

Feature Polish - Gradle Sync

A recent and annoying pain point in Android Studio is to have your project unexpectedly trigger red symbols across your app code, especially when re-opening your project. The Gradle build system retains a cache of all the dependencies in your home directory that allows the IDE to quickly sync without re-downloading new artifacts. The root cause for many of the recent incidents of red symbols appearing is that in a recent Gradle change, these caches were periodically deleted to save hard drive space. The IDE was unaware of the discrepancy and consequently generated red symbols for missing dependencies. Starting with Android Studio 3.5, we now have the conditional logic to check for this state. We certainly have more we can do in this area, but this is just one example of the types of issues we addressed for project sync during Project Marble.

Feature Polish - Project Upgrades

Ideally, the Android Studio team would like you to be on the latest version of the IDE since this is where the team does active feature development, bug fixing and performance improvements. We know that upgrading your Android Studio is not a seamless process as it should be with many issues revolving around fixing gradle plugin errors. With Android Studio 3.5, we have updated the user experience on output windows, pop-ups and dialog boxes to help clarify when you actually need to upgrade, plus we made more sync & build upgrade errors more actionable.

From a recent developer survey, we heard that many developers upgrade the Android Studio IDE and the Gradle plugin at the same time. As of the last several releases, the IDE and your gradle plugin can actually be updated independently. This means if you want the latest build system speed and correctness improvements, you can upgrade your Gradle plugin, but you can also wait until you're ready. Whether or not you upgrade you Gradle plugin at the same time as the IDE, we encourage you to be on the latest release of Android Studio 3.5 to start using all the enhancements from Project Marble.

Feature Polish - Layout Editor

Based on user research on the layout editor and input from you, we know that there are several performance and error-prone usability issues that make editing XML the only path forward, especially when working with ConstraintLayout. To address the general usability of the layout editor, we refined a wide range of interactions from constraint selection and deletion, to better device preview resizing. While XML code editing is still a click away, we hope you can see that these interaction refinements can be a big productivity boost when creating and editing layouts in Android Studio. Learn more about the full range of layout editor changes here.

Layout Editor Before - Android Studio 3.4 (left) and Layout Editor After - Android Studio 3.5 (right)

Feature Polish - Data Binding

During Project Marble, we also took a look at long standing issues with data binding. From a performance perspective, we found that creating data binding expressions in XML files would lead to severe hangs in the code editor. After fixing this issue we also improved code completion, navigation, and refactoring.

Feature Polish - App Deployment Flow

We streamlined the deployment flow during Project Marble, by adding a new dropdown to easily see and change the device you intend to deploy to and a new menu item to deploy to multiple devices.

App Deployment User Flow

Feature Polish - C++ Improvements

C++ project support was also a focus area during Project Marble. CMake builds are now up to 25% faster for large projects because the IDE now invokes parallel Ninja targets. Additionally, you will find an improved single build variant user interface panel that allows you to specify ABI targets separately.. And lastly, Android Studio 3.5 allows you to use multiple versions of the Android NDK side-by-side in your build.gradle file. This should allow you to have more reproducible builds and mitigate incompatibilities between NDK versions and the Android gradle plugin.

Single Variant Selection by ABI

Feature Polish - Intellij Platform Update

This release of the Android Studio includes the features and quality enhancements of the 2019.1 Intellij platform release. The 2019.1 Intellij updates has a range of improvements from custom themes to better version control system integration.

Feature Polish - Conditional Delivery for Dynamic Feature Support

Android Studio 3.5 enhances app bundle feature support with the addition of conditional delivery features for your app bundle. Conditional delivery allows you to set certain device configuration requirements for dynamic feature modules to be downloaded automatically during app install. You can set conditional delivery based on hardware features such as OpenGL versions, support for Augmented Reality, or you set conditions based on API level and user country.

Module Selection for Conditional Delivery

Feature Polish - Emulator Foldables & Pixel Device Support

This release of the IDE includes the Android Emulator skins for Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL. Additionally, the Android Studio supports the creation of foldable Android Virtual Devices.

Android Emulator - Foldable Support

Feature Polish - Chrome OS Support

Android Studio 3.5 is now officially supported on Chrome OS 75 and higher on high-end x86 based Chromebooks. During Project Marble we refined a few usability issues, and now have an installer for Android Studio and support app deployment to external USB connected Android devices. Learn more how to setup the IDE on Chrome OS here.

Android Studio on Chrome OS

To recap, Android Studio 3.5 has hundreds of bug fixes and notable changes in these core areas:

System Health

  • Memory Settings
  • Memory Usage Report
  • Reduce Exceptions
  • User Interface Freezes
  • Build Speed
  • IDE Speed
  • Lint Code Analysis
  • I/O File Access
  • Emulator CPU Usage

Feature Polish

  • Apply Changes
  • Gradle Sync
  • Project Upgrades
  • Layout Editor
  • Data Binding
  • App Deployment
  • C++ Improvements
  • Intellij 2019.1 Platform Update
  • Conditional Delivery for Dynamic Feature Support
  • Emulator Foldables & Pixel Device Support
  • Chrome OS Support

Check our the Android Studio preview release notes page for more details and read about deep dives into several areas of Project Marble in the following Medium blog posts:

Opt-In & Feedback

The specific areas and the approach we took to optimize Android Studio for Project Marble were all based on your feedback and metrics data. The aggregate metrics you can opt-in to inside of Android Studio allow us to figure out if there are broader problems in the product for all users, and the data also allows the team to prioritize feature work appropriately. There are are a couple pathways to help us build better insights. At a baseline, you can opt-in to metrics, by going to Preferences /Settings → Appearance & Behavior → Data Sharing.

IDE Data Sharing

Additionally, throughout the year, you might see user sentiment emojis in the bottom corner of the IDE. Those icons are a lightweight way to inform the Android Studio team on how things are going and to give us in-context feedback, and the fastest way to log a bug and send to the team.

IDE User Feedback

Getting Started

Download

Download the beta version of Android Studio 3.5 from the download page. If you are using a previous release of Android Studio, you can simply update to the latest version of Android Studio. If you want to maintain a stable version of Android Studio, you can run the stable release version and beta release versions of Android Studio at the same time. Learn more.

To use the mentioned Android Emulator features make sure you are running at least Android Emulator v29.0.6 downloaded via the Android Studio SDK Manager.

As mentioned above, we appreciate any feedback on things you like, and issues or features you would like to see. If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue. Follow us -- the Android Studio development team ‐ on Twitter and on Medium.