Category Archives: Android Developers Blog

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Google Play Protect in 2018: New updates to keep Android users secure

Posted by Rahul Mishra and Tom Watkins, Android Security & Privacy Team

In 2018, Google Play Protect made Android devices running Google Play some of the most secure smartphones available, scanning over 50 billion apps everyday for harmful behaviour.

Android devices can genuinely improve people's lives through our accessibility features, Google Assistant, digital wellbeing, Family Link, and more — but we can only do this if they are safe and secure enough to earn users' long term trust. This is Google Play Protect's charter and we're encouraged by this past year's advancements.

Google Play Protect, a refresher

Google Play Protect is the technology we use to ensure that any device shipping with the Google Play Store is secured against potentially harmful applications (PHA). It is made up of a giant backend scanning engine to aid our analysts in sourcing and vetting applications made available on the Play Store, and built-in protection that scans apps on users' devices, immobilizing PHA and warning users.

This technology protects over 2 billion devices in the Android ecosystem every day.

What's new

On by default

We strongly believe that security should be a built-in feature of every device, not something a user needs to find and enable. When security features function at their best, most users do not need to be aware of them. To this end, we are pleased to announce that Google Play Protect is now enabled by default to secure all new devices, right out of the box. The user is notified that Google Play Protect is running, and has the option to turn it off whenever desired.

New and rare apps

Android is deployed in many diverse ways across many different users. We know that the ecosystem would not be as powerful and vibrant as it is today without an equally diverse array of apps to choose from. But installing new apps, especially from unknown sources, can carry risk.

Last year we launched a new feature that notifies users when they are installing new or rare apps that are rarely installed in the ecosystem. In these scenarios, the feature shows a warning, giving users pause to consider whether they want to trust this app, and advising them to take additional care and check the source of installation. Once Google has fully analyzed the app and determined that it is not harmful, the notification will no longer display. In 2018, this warning showed around 100,000 times per day

Context is everything: warning users on launch

It's easy to misunderstand alerts when presented out of context. We're trained to click through notifications without reading them and get back to what we were doing as quickly as possible. We know that providing timely and context-sensitive alerts to users is critical for them to be of value. We recently enabled a security feature first introduced in Android Oreo which warns users when they are about to launch a potentially harmful app on their device.

This new warning dialog provides in-context information about which app the user is about to launch, why we think it may be harmful and what might happen if they open the app. We also provide clear guidance on what to do next. These in-context dialogs ensure users are protected even if they accidentally missed an alert.

Auto-disabling apps

Google Play Protect has long been able to disable the most harmful categories of apps on users devices automatically, providing robust protection where we believe harm will be done.

In 2018, we extended this coverage to apps installed from Play that were later found to have violated Google Play's policies, e.g. on privacy, deceptive behavior or content. These apps have been suspended and removed from the Google Play Store.

This does not remove the app from user device, but it does notify the user and prevents them from opening the app accidentally. The notification gives the option to remove the app entirely.

Keeping the Android ecosystem secure is no easy task, but we firmly believe that Google Play Protect is an important security layer that's used to protect users devices and their data while maintaining the freedom, diversity and openness that makes Android, well, Android.

Acknowledgements: This post leveraged contributions from Meghan Kelly and William Luh.

Expanding target API level requirements in 2019

Posted by Edward Cunningham, Android Security & Privacy Team

In a previous blog we described how API behavior changes advance the security and privacy protections of Android, and include user experience improvements that prevent apps from accidentally overusing resources like battery and memory.

Since November 2018, all app updates on Google Play have been required to target API level 26 (Android 8.0) or higher. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of app developers, Android users now enjoy more apps using modern APIs than ever before, bringing significant security and privacy benefits. For example, during 2018 over 150,000 apps added support for runtime permissions, giving users granular control over the data they share.

Today we're providing more information about the Google Play requirements for 2019, and announcing some changes that affect apps distributed via other stores.

Google Play requirements for 2019

In order to provide users with the best Android experience possible, the Google Play Console will continue to require that apps target a recent API level:

  • August 2019: New apps are required to target API level 28 (Android 9) or higher.
  • November 2019: Updates to existing apps are required to target API level 28 or higher.

Existing apps that are not receiving updates are unaffected and can continue to be downloaded from the Play Store. Apps can still use any minSdkVersion, so there is no change to your ability to build apps for older Android versions.

For a list of changes introduced in Android 9 Pie, check out our page on behavior changes for apps targeting API level 28+.

Apps distributed via other stores

Targeting a recent API level is valuable regardless of how an app is distributed. In China, major app stores from Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent will be requiring that apps target API level 26 (Android 8.0) or higher in 2019. We expect many others to introduce similar requirements – an important step to improve the security of the app ecosystem.

Over 95% of spyware we detect outside of the Play Store intentionally targets API level 22 or lower, avoiding runtime permissions even when installed on recent Android versions. To protect users from malware, and support this ecosystem initiative, Google Play Protect will warn users when they attempt to install APKs from any source that do not target a recent API level:

  • August 2019: New apps will receive warnings during installation if they do not target API level 26 or higher.
  • November 2019: New versions of existing apps will receive warnings during installation if they do not target API level 26 or higher.
  • 2020 onwards: The target API level requirement will advance annually.

These Play Protect warnings will show only if the app's targetSdkVersion is lower than the device API level. For example, a user with a device running Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) will be warned when installing any new APK that targets API level 22 or lower. Users with devices running Android 8.0 (Oreo) or higher will be warned when installing any new APK that targets API level 25 or lower.

Prior to August, Play Protect will start showing these warnings on devices with Developer options enabled to give advance notice to developers of apps outside of the Play Store. To ensure compatibility across all Android versions, developers should make sure that new versions of any apps target API level 26+.

Existing apps that have been released (via any distribution channel) and are not receiving updates will be unaffected – users will not be warned when installing them.

Getting started

For advice on how to change your app’s target API level, take a look at the migration guide and this talk from I/O 2018: Migrate your existing app to target Android Oreo and above.

We're extremely grateful to the Android developers worldwide who have already updated their apps to deliver security improvements for their users. We look forward to making great progress together in 2019.

How we fought bad apps and malicious developers in 2018

Posted by Andrew Ahn, Product Manager, Google Play

Google Play is committed to providing a secure and safe platform for billions of Android users on their journey discovering and experiencing the apps they love and enjoy. To deliver against this commitment, we worked last year to improve our abuse detection technologies and systems, and significantly increased our team of product managers, engineers, policy experts, and operations leaders to fight against bad actors.

In 2018, we introduced a series of new policies to protect users from new abuse trends, detected and removed malicious developers faster, and stopped more malicious apps from entering the Google Play Store than ever before. The number of rejected app submissions increased by more than 55 percent, and we increased app suspensions by more than 66 percent. These increases can be attributed to our continued efforts to tighten policies to reduce the number of harmful apps on the Play Store, as well as our investments in automated protections and human review processes that play critical roles in identifying and enforcing on bad apps.

In addition to identifying and stopping bad apps from entering the Play Store, our Google Play Protect system now scans over 50 billion apps on users' devices each day to make sure apps installed on the device aren't behaving in harmful ways. With such protection, apps from Google Play are eight times less likely to harm a user's device than Android apps from other sources.

Here are some areas we've been focusing on in the last year and that will continue to be a priority for us in 2019:

Protecting User Privacy

Protecting users' data and privacy is a critical factor in building user trust. We've long required developers to limit their device permission requests to what's necessary to provide the features of an app. Also, to help users understand how their data is being used, we've required developers to provide prominent disclosures about the collection and use of sensitive user data. Last year, we rejected or removed tens of thousands of apps that weren't in compliance with Play's policies related to user data and privacy.

In October 2018, we announced a new policy restricting the use of the SMS and Call Log permissions to a limited number of cases, such as where an app has been selected as the user's default app for making calls or sending text messages. We've recently started to remove apps from Google Play that violate this policy. We plan to introduce additional policies for device permissions and user data throughout 2019.

Developer integrity

We find that over 80% of severe policy violations are conducted by repeat offenders and abusive developer networks. When malicious developers are banned, they often create new accounts or buy developer accounts on the black market in order to come back to Google Play. We've further enhanced our clustering and account matching technologies, and by combining these technologies with the expertise of our human reviewers, we've made it more difficult for spammy developer networks to gain installs by blocking their apps from being published in the first place.

Harmful app contents and behaviors

As mentioned in last year's blog post, we fought against hundreds of thousands of impersonators, apps with inappropriate content, and Potentially Harmful Applications (PHAs). In a continued fight against these types of apps, not only do we apply advanced machine learning models to spot suspicious apps, we also conduct static and dynamic analyses, intelligently use user engagement and feedback data, and leverage skilled human reviews, which have helped in finding more bad apps with higher accuracy and efficiency.

Despite our enhanced and added layers of defense against bad apps, we know bad actors will continue to try to evade our systems by changing their tactics and cloaking bad behaviors. We will continue to enhance our capabilities to counter such adversarial behavior, and work relentlessly to provide our users with a secure and safe app store.

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An Update on Android Things

Posted by Dave Smith, Developer Advocate for IoT

Over the past year, Google has worked closely with partners to create consumer products powered by Android Things with the Google Assistant built-in. Given the successes we have seen with our partners in smart speakers and smart displays, we are refocusing Android Things as a platform for OEM partners to build devices in those categories moving forward. Therefore, support for production System on Modules (SoMs) based on NXP, Qualcomm, and MediaTek hardware will not be made available through the public developer platform at this time.

Android Things continues to be a platform for experimenting with and building smart, connected devices using the Android Things SDK on top of popular hardware like the NXP i.MX7D and Raspberry Pi 3B. System images for these boards will remain available through the Android Things console where developers can create new builds and push app updates for up to 100 devices for non-commercial use.

We remain dedicated to providing a managed platform for IoT devices, including turnkey hardware solutions. For developers looking to commercialize IoT products in 2019, check out Cloud IoT Core for secure device connectivity at scale and the upcoming Cloud IoT Edge runtime for a suite of managed edge computing services. For on-device machine learning applications, stay tuned for more details about our Edge TPU development boards.

Google releases source code of Santa Tracker for Android 2018

Posted by Chris Banes, Chief Elf of Android Engineering

Today, we pushed the source code for Google's Santa Tracker 2018 Android app at google/santa-tracker-android, including its 17 mini-games, Santa tracking feature, Wear app and more!

Visually the app looks much the same this year, but underneath the hood the app has gone on a massive size reduction exercise to make the download from Google Play as small as possible. When a user downloads the app the initial download is now just 9.2MB, compared to last year's app which was 60MB. That's a 85% reduction! 🗜️

Android App Bundle

We achieved that reduction by migrating the app over to using an Android App Bundle. The main benefit is that Google Play can now serve dynamically optimized APKs to users' devices. Moreover, we were also able to separate out all of the games into their own dynamic feature modules, downloaded on demand. This is why you might have seen a progress bar when you first opened a game, we are actually downloading the game from Google Play before starting the game:

The progress bar shown while a game is fetched from Google Play

You can read more about our journey migrating over to App Bundle in a small blog series, starting with our 'Moving to Android App Bundle' post.

Gboard stickers

One of the new features we added this year was a Gboard sticker pack, allowing users to share stickers to their friends. You might even notice some of the characters from the games in the stickers!

'Santa Dunk' is one of the 20 available stickers

We use Firebase App Indexing to publish our stickers to the local index on the device, where the Gboard keyboard app picks them up, allowing the user to share them in apps. You can see the source code here.

The sticker pack being used in a very important conversation

Lots of code improvements

Aside from the things mentioned above, we've also completed a number of code health improvements. We have increased the minimum SDK version to Lollipop (21), migrated from the Support Library to AndroidX, reduced the file size of our game assets by switching to modern formats, and lots of other small improvements! Phew 😅.

Go explore the code

If you're interested go checkout the code and let us know what you think. If you have any questions or issues, please let us know via the issue tracker.

Google Mobile Developer Day is coming to GDC 2019

Posted by Kacey Fahey, Developer Marketing, Google Play

We're excited to be part of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 in San Francisco. Join us on Monday, March 18th at the Google Mobile Developer Day, either in person or over live stream, for a full day of sessions covering tools and best practices to help build a successful mobile games business on Google Play. We'll focus on game quality, effective monetization and growth strategies, and how to create, connect, and scale with Google.

This year's sessions are focused on tips and tools to help your mobile game business succeed. Come hear our latest announcements and industry trends, as well as learnings from industry peers. We will hold a more technical session in the second half of the day, where we'll share ways to optimize your mobile game's performance for the best possible player experience.

Also, make sure to visit the Google booth from Wednesday March 20th until Friday March 22nd. Here, you will be able to interact with hands-on demos, attend talks in the theater, and get your questions answered by Google experts. We're bringing a big team and hope to see you there.

Learn more about Google's activities throughout the week of GDC and sign up to stay informed. For those who can't make it in person, join the live stream starting at 10am PST on Monday, March 18th. These events are part of the official Game Developers Conference and require a pass to attend.

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Grow your app business internationally through localization on Google Play

Posted by Chris Yang, Program Manager, Translation Service

It is not uncommon for developers to have the following concerns and thoughts when considering whether to localize their apps: "I just don't have the time!" "Translation is too expensive." "High-quality translation is just hard to find.'' Does this sound familiar?

At Google, we consider translation a key component of making the world's information universally accessible and useful. This commitment extends not only to localizing our own products, but also to providing tools to help developers and translators more easily localize their apps.

Introducing the Google Play App Translation Service

Available in the Google Play Console, the Google Play App Translation Service simplifies localization of your app user interface strings, store listing, in-app product names, and universal apps campaign ads. Thousands of developers have already used this service to reach hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

Here is an overview of some of the ways it can help:

1. Quick and easy - Order in minutes and receive your translation in as little as two days.

  • Small translation orders can be completed in only two days. All orders are completed in eight days or less.
  • Apply translations directly in the Play Console or download to build with your app.

2. Professional and human - Get high-quality translations by real human translators.

  • All translations are carefully crafted by professional translators just for you.
  • Translation providers are selected by Google based on quality and speed.

3. Value for money - Translate your app for as little as $0.07 per word.

  • Pricing is upfront and simple. You only pay per word for each language you translate.
  • For example, translating 200 words into one language at $0.07 per word would cost only $14.

Ordering a Translation

Find the Translation Service in the Google Play Console:

When you're ready to translate, just select the languages to use for translation, choose a vendor, and place your order.

Select languages to translate into.

Choose what type of content you want to translate.

Easily complete purchase of the service.

Language recommendations

You can also expand your global footprint with translation recommendations that can help increase installs. The recommendations can be found in the Google Play Console.

The language recommendation feature is developed using machine learning and is based on your app's install history and market data.

Did you know that you can reach almost 80% of internet users worldwide with only 10 languages. In particular, the Google Play opportunity in Russia and the Middle East continues to grow. Let us know once you have localized for these markets so we can consider featuring your app or game in the Now in Russian and Now in Arabic collections on the Play Store.

Launching the translation

Once you download the translation, you'll be ready to publish your newly translated app update on Google Play.

Get started with the App Translation Service today and let us know what you think!

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Get your apps ready for the 64-bit requirement

Posted by Vlad Radu, Product Manager, Play and Diana Wong, Product Manager, Android

64-bit CPUs deliver faster, richer experiences for your users. Adding a 64-bit version of your app provides performance improvements, makes way for future innovation, and sets you up for devices with 64-bit only hardware.

We want to help you get ready and know you need time to plan. We’ve supported 64-bit CPUs since Android 5.0 Lollipop and in 2017 we first announced that apps using native code must provide a 64-bit version (in addition to the 32-bit version). Today we’re providing more detailed information and timelines to make it as easy as possible to transition in 2019.

The 64-bit requirement: what it means for developers

Starting August 1, 2019:

  • All new apps and app updates that include native code are required to provide 64-bit versions in addition to 32-bit versions when publishing to Google Play.
  • Extension: Google Play will continue to accept 32-bit only updates to existing games that use Unity 5.6 or older until August 2021.

Starting August 1, 2021:

  • Google Play will stop serving apps without 64-bit versions on 64-bit capable devices, meaning they will no longer be available in the Play Store on those devices.
  • This will include games built with Unity 5.6 or older.

The requirement does not apply to:

  • APKs or app bundles explicitly targeting Wear OS or Android TV, which are form factors that do not currently support 64-bit code.
  • APKs or app bundles that are not distributed to devices running Android 9 Pie or later.

We are not making changes to our policy on 32-bit support. Play will continue to deliver apps to 32-bit devices. This requirement means that apps with 32-bit native code will need to have an additional 64-bit version as well.

Preparing for the 64-bit requirement

We anticipate that for most developers, the move to 64-bit should be straightforward. Many apps are written entirely in non-native code (e.g. the Java programming language or Kotlin) and do not need code changes.

All developers: Here is an overview of the steps you will need to take in order to become 64-bit compliant. For a more detailed outline of this process refer to our in-depth documentation.

Inspect your APK or app bundle for native code. You can check for .so files using APK Analyzer. Identify whether they are built from your own code or are imported by an SDK or library that you are using. If you do not have any .so files in your APK, you are already 64-bit compliant.

Enable 64-bit architectures and rebuild native code (.so files) imported by your own code. See the documentation for more details.

  • Upgrade any SDKs and libraries to 64-bit compliant versions, if needed. Reach out to the SDK or library owner if one is not available. We’re working with top library owners on their 64-bit compatibility.
  • Test for issues locally once you’ve rebuilt your app.
  • Rollout to your testers using testing tracks for thorough testing.

Game developers: The three most used engines all currently support 64-bit (Unreal & Cocos2d since 2015, Unity since 2018). We understand that migrating a 3rd party game engine is an intensive process with long lead times.

Since Unity only recently began providing 64-bit support in versions 2017.4 and 2018.2, we are granting an automatic extension to existing games using versions 5.6 or older until August 2021. Unity provides guides that can help you through the process of upgrading to a 64-bit compliant version.

SDK and library owners: Update for 64-bit compliance as soon as possible to give app developers time to adapt, and let your developers know. Sign up and register your SDK to receive updates about the latest tools and information that can help you serve your customers.

Going forward

For those that already support 64-bit - thank you and great work! If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to begin any work for the 64-bit requirement as soon as possible. As we move closer to the deadline, we’ll be updating our developer documentation with more information on how to check if your app is compliant.

We’re excited about the future that 64-bit CPUs bring in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and immersive mobile. Supporting 64-bit prepares the ecosystem for the innovation enabled by the advanced compute capabilities of 64-bit devices, and for future Android devices that only support 64-bit code.

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Reminder SMS/Call Log Policy Changes

Posted by Paul Bankhead, Director, Product Management, Google Play

TLDR; As previously announced and directly communicated to developers via email, we'll be removing apps from the Google Play Store that ask for SMS or Call Log permission. If you have not submitted a permissions declaration form and your app is removed, see below for next steps.

We take access to sensitive data and permissions very seriously. This is especially true with SMS and Call Log permissions, which were designed to allow users to pick their favorite dialer or messaging app, but have also been used to enable many other experiences that might not require that same level of access. In an effort to improve users' control over their data, last October we announced we would be restricting developer access to SMS and Call Log permissions.

Our new policy is designed to ensure that apps asking for these permissions need full and ongoing access to the sensitive data in order to accomplish the app's primary use case, and that users will understand why this data would be required for the app to function.

Developers whose apps used these permissions prior to our announcement were notified by email and given 90 days to either remove the permissions, or submit a permissions declaration form to enable further review.

More about app reviews

We take this review process seriously and understand it's a change for many developers. We apply the same criteria to all developers, including dozens of Google apps. We added to the list of approved use cases over the last few months as we evaluated feedback from developers.

Our global teams carefully review each submission. During the review process, we consider the following:

  • Likelihood that an average user would understand why this type of app needs full access to the data.
  • User benefit of the feature.
  • Importance of the permission relative to the core functionality of the app.
  • Risks presented by all apps with this use case having access to this sensitive data.
  • Availability of more narrow alternatives for enabling the feature.

With this change, some uses cases will no longer be allowed. However, many of the apps we reviewed with one of these permissions can rely on narrower APIs, reducing the scope of access while accomplishing similar functionality. For example, developers using SMS for account verification can alternatively use the SMS Retriever API, and apps that want to share content using SMS can prepopulate a message and trigger the default SMS app to show via intents.

Tens of thousands of developers have already resubmitted their apps to support the new policy or have submitted a form. Thank you! Developers who submitted a form received a compliance extension until March 9th.

Next steps

Over the next few weeks, we will be removing apps from the Play Store that ask for SMS or Call Log permission and have not submitted a permission declaration form. If your app is removed and you would like to have it republished, you can do one of the following in the Play Console:

  • submit a new version without these permissions, or
  • submit a new version of your app that retains the permissions. Doing so will require you to complete a permissions declaration form inside the Play Console (coming soon) and will give you an extension until March 9th to remove the permissions or receive approval for your use case.

Keeping our overall Android ecosystem healthy is very important, and protection of user data is vital to the long term health of all developers. We know these changes have required significant work from you and we appreciate your efforts to create innovative experiences while protecting user's privacy.

Android Studio 3.3

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager

We are excited to kick off the new year with a stable release of Android Studio 3.3 focused on refinement and quality. You can download it today from developer.android.com/studio. Based on the feedback from many of you, we have taken a step back from large features to focus on our quality fundamentals. The goal is to ensure Android Studio continues to help you stay productive in making great apps for Android. Since the last stable release, Android Studio 3.3 addresses over 200 user- reported bugs. This release also includes official support for Navigation Editor, improved incremental Java compilation when using annotation processors, C++ code lint inspections, an updated new project wizard, and usability fixes for each of the performance profilers. In addition, saving snapshots on exit for the Android emulator is 8x faster.

Android Studio 3.3 kicks off the broader quality focus area for the year, which we call Project Marble. Announced at the Android Developer Summit in November 2018, Project Marble is the Android Studio team's focus on making the fundamental features and flows of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) rock-solid, along with refining and polishing the user-facing features that matter to you in your day-to-day app development workflows. In Project Marble, we are specifically looking at reducing the number of crashes, hangs, memory leaks, and user-impacting bugs. We are also investing in our measurement infrastructure to prevent these issues from occurring. Stay tuned for more updates and details as we progress on this initiative.

This release of Android Studio is a solid milestone for the product. If you want the latest in feature refinement and quality, then download Android Studio 3.3 today on the stable release channel. Watch and read below for some of the notable changes and enhancements that you will find in Android Studio 3.3.

Develop

  • Navigation Editor - The navigation editor is a visual editor which allows you to construct XML resources that support using the new Jetpack Navigation Component. With the Navigation Editor and the Navigation Component, you can build predictable interactions between the screens and content areas of your app. This editor was previewed in an earlier Android Studio release, but based on your feedback we held this feature to improve the quality of the feature. Thank you to the developers who gave us feedback. Learn more.

Navigation Editor

  • IntelliJ Platform Update - Android Studio 3.3 includes Intellij 2018.2.2. This is a significant platform release from Jetbrains, with new previews for the code editor, updated icons, MacBook Touch Bar support, plus enhanced version control integrations. Learn more.
  • Kotlin Update - This release of Android Studio bundles Kotlin 1.3.11, with support for Kotlin coroutines and contracts plus IDE support for the recommend Kotlin coding style. Learn more.
  • Clang-Tidy Support for C++ - Android Studio now has support for Clang-Tidy for C++ static code analysis. Similar to the current lint support for Java and Kotlin in Android Studio, Clang-Tidy helps those who have C++ in their Android app identify common coding errors and bugs. Enable the inspection by going to SettingsEditorInspections (Preference → EditorInspections for MacOS) . Lean more.

Clang-Tidy Code Inspection Settings

  • New Project Wizard update - To support the range of device types, programming languages, and new frameworks, we have updated the New Project Wizard for Android Studio. You can access the same project templates in a more streamlined user experience.

New Project Wizard

  • Delete Unused IDE Directories - To help you upgrade to the newest version of Android Studio, we have added a new feature to help clean up unused settings & cache directories. Past versions of Android Studio left these old directories that were hard to find and remove on your hard drive. When you first run Android Studio 3.3 and higher, the new dialog suggests directories that you can safely remove from past installations of Android Studio.

Delete Unused Directories Dialogue

  • IDE User Feedback - To help us to create a better product, we have started to include in-product sentiment buttons for quick feedback. For those who opt-in to sharing usage data, feel free to click on the icon that suits your sentiment while using Android Studio. To opt-in to give in-product feedback go to SettingsAppearance & BehaviorSystem SettingsData Sharing ( PreferencesAppearance & BehaviorSystem SettingsData Sharing for MacOS).

IDE User Feedback

Build

  • Improved incremental Java compilation when using annotation processor - This update decreases build time by improving support for incremental Java compilation when using annotation processors. The optimization requires Android Gradle plugin 3.3.0 or higher. Learn more.
  • Lazy task configuration - The plugin uses Gradle's new task creation API to avoid initializing and configuring tasks that are not required to complete the current build (or tasks not on the execution task graph). For example, if you have multiple build variants, such as "release" and "debug" build variants, and you're building the "debug" version of your app, the plugin avoids initializing and configuring tasks for the "release" version of your app. Learn more.
  • Single-variant project sync - Along with build speed, project sync speed can be a development bottleneck to for those who have large app projects with multiple build variants. In this version of the IDE, you can you can limit syncing to only the active build variant. In order for this optimization to work, your project needs to use Android Gradle plugin 3.3.0 or higher. You can enable this option under the Experimental preferences in Android Studio 3.3.

Single-Variant Project Sync

  • Android App Bundles now support Instant Apps - You can now build and deploy Google Play Instant experiences from a single Android Studio project, and include them in a single Android App Bundle. Launched last year, the Android App Bundle is the new standard Android app publishing format that you can build with Android Studio. This update streamlines and unifies the build artifacts that you upload to Google Play. Learn more.

Test

  • Multiple Emulator AVD instances - Android Emulator 28.0 now supports the ability to launch multiple instances of the same Android Virtual Device (AVD). Each instance of the AVD uses a minimal set of system resources. For those developers with continuous integration (CI) testing environments, this can be a convenient way to run tests in parallel off one AVD configuration. On the command line run the following commands:
    $./emulator -avd <avdname> -read-only &
    $./emulator -avd <avdname> -read-only &
    

    Android Emulator: Multiple AVD Launch

  • Android 9 Pie Emulator System Images & Wi-Fi P2P - Alongside Android Studio 3.3, you can also download Android 9 system images for your emulator for your app testing. The Google Play emulator system images not only passe the official Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), they also include support for Peer-to-Peer Wi-Fi direct connections between two emulators. To start using this feature, launch the emulator (v28.0.22 or higher) via the command line and ensure the two emulators share the same Wi-Fi server and client port command line arguments.
    $./emulator @<server-avd-name> -wifi-server-port 9999
    $./emulator @<client-avd-name> -wifi-client-port 9999
    

    Android Emulator: Wi-Fi P2P Setup

  • Emulator Snapshot Save Speed - We have heard from you that you enjoy using snapshots and quickboot, but felt the time taken to close the emulator and Quickboot save a snapshot was slow. To solve this, we optimized the way snapshots are saved and managed, using a mapped file to save guest RAM. From aggregate metrics, we found that this optimization led to driving down the average quickboot save time from the last stable version to now from 27 seconds down to 3 seconds — a 8x improvement. Learn more about this enhancement and other recent improvements to the emulator here.

Optimize

  • Profiler performance improvements - Based on your feedback, we have dramatically improved Android Studio performance while using the profilers in this release. We've seen improvements on average of 2x in frame rates in our local tests. Please continue to provide feedback, especially if you continue to see performance issues.
  • Memory Profiler allocation tracking options - In previous releases, we have heard from you that, in some cases, your app performs significantly worse while profiling with the default settings. To address this, we have changed the default Memory Profiler capture mode on Android 8.0 Oreo (API level 26) and higher devices to sample for allocations periodically. You can adjust this setting in the Allocation Tracking dropdown menu. By default, we also now temporarily turn off allocation tracking during CPU recordings to minimize the impact on recording results. Learn more.

Memory Profiler: Allocation Tracking Options

  • Network Profiler formatted text - The Network profiler in Android Studio 3.3 now formats common text types found in network payloads by default, including HTML, XML and JSON. You can toggle between formatted and raw text by navigating to either the Response or Request tab, and click on the View Parsed / View Source link. Learn more.

Network Profiler: Formatted Text

  • CPU Profiler frame rendering data - The CPU Profiler now shows you the render time for each frame on the main UI thread and Render Thread when you record with Trace System Calls. If you are trying to investigate and understand the bottlenecks or the source of UI jank in your app, this data can come in handy to see where you can improve your app performance. Learn more.

CPU Profiler: Frame Rendering Data

To recap, Android Studio 3.3 includes these new enhancements & features:

Develop

  • Navigation Editor
  • IntelliJ 2018.2.2 Platform Update
  • Kotlin 1.3.11 Update
  • Clang-Tidy Support for C++
  • New Project Wizard update
  • Delete Unused IDE Directories
  • IDE User Feedback

Build

  • Improved incremental Java compilation when using annotation processors
  • Lazy task configuration:
  • Single-variant project sync
  • Android App Bundles now supports Instant Apps

Test

  • Multiple Emulator AVD instance Launch
  • Android 9 Pie - Emulator System Images
  • Emulator Snapshot Save Speed Improvement

Optimize

  • Profiler Performance Improvements
  • Memory Profiler: Allocation Tracking Options
  • Network Profiler: Formatted Text
  • CPU Profiler: Frame Rendering Data

Check out the Android Studio release notes, Android Gradle plugin release notes, and the Android Emulator release notes for more details.

Getting Started

Download

Download the latest version of Android Studio 3.3 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 as well. If you want to maintain a stable version of Android Studio, you can run the stable release version and canary 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 v28.0.22 downloaded via the Android Studio SDK Manager.

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.