Tag Archives: Android Studio

Google Play services discontinuing updates for API levels 14 and 15

Posted by Sam Spencer, Technical Program Manager, Google Play

The Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) platform is seven years old and the active device count has been below 1% for some time. Consequently, we are deprecating support for ICS in future releases of Google Play services. For devices running ICS, the Google Play Store will no longer update Play Services APK beyond version 14.7.99.

What does this mean as an Application developer:

The Google Play services SDK contains the interfaces to the functionality provided by the Google Play services APK, running as background services. The functionality required by the current, released SDK versions is already present on ICS devices with Google Play services and will continue to work without change.

With the SDK version changes earlier this year, each library can be independently released and may update its own minSdkVersion. Individual libraries are not required to change based on this deprecation. Newer SDK components may continue to support API levels 14 and 15 but many will update to require the higher API level. For applications that support API level 16 or greater, you will not need to make any changes to your build. For applications that support API levels 14 or 15, you may continue to build and publish your app to devices running ICS, but you will encounter build errors when updating to newer SDK versions. The error will look like this:

Error:Execution failed for task ':app:processDebugManifest'.
> Manifest merger failed : uses-sdk:minSdkVersion 14 cannot be smaller than version 16 declared in library [com.google.android.gms:play-services-FOO:16.X.YY]
        Suggestion: use tools:overrideLibrary="com.google.android.gms:play_services" to force usage

Unfortunately, the stated suggestion will not help you successfully run your app on older devices. In order to use the newer SDK, you will need to use one of the following options:

1. Target API level 16 as the minimum supported API level.

This is the recommended course of action. To discontinue support for API levels that will no longer receive Google Play services updates, simply increase the minSdkVersion value in your app's build.gradle to at least 16. If you update your app in this way and publish it to the Play Store, users of devices with less than that level of support will not be able to see or download the update. However, they will still be able to download and use the most recently published version of the app that does target their device.

A very small percentage of all Android devices are using API levels less than 16. You can read more about the current distribution of Android devices. We believe that many of these old devices are not actively being used.

If your app still has a significant number of users on older devices, you can use multiple APK support in Google Play to deliver an APK that uses Google Play services 14.7.99. This is described below.

2. Build multiple APKs to support devices with an API level less than 16.

Along with some configuration and code management, you can build multiple APKs that support different minimum API levels, with different versions of Google Play services. You can accomplish this with build variants in Gradle. First, define build flavors for legacy and newer versions of your app. For example, in your build.gradle, define two different product flavors, with two different compile dependencies for the stand-in example play-services-FOO component:

productFlavors {
    legacy {
        minSdkVersion 14
        versionCode 1401  // Min API level 14, v01
    }
    current {
        minSdkVersion 16
        versionCode 1601  // Min API level 16, v01
    }
}

dependencies {
    legacyCompile 'com.google.android.gms:play-services-FOO:16.0.0'
    currentCompile 'com.google.android.gms:play-services-FOO:17.0.0'
}

In the above situation, there are two product flavors being built against two different versions of play-services-FOO. This will work fine if only APIs are called that are available in the 16.0.0 library. If you need to call newer APIs made available with 17.0.0, you will have to create your own compatibility library for the newer API calls so that they are only built into the version of the application that can use them:

  1. Declare a Java interface that exposes the higher-level functionality you want to perform that is only available in current versions of Play services.
  2. Build two Android libraries that implement that interface. The "current" implementation should call the newer APIs as desired. The "legacy" implementation should no-op or otherwise act as desired with older versions of Play services. The interface should be added to both libraries.
  3. Conditionally compile each library into the app using "legacyCompile" and "currentCompile" dependencies as illustrated for play-services-FOO above.
  4. In the app's code, call through to the compatibility library whenever newer Play APIs are required.

After building a release APK for each flavor, you then publish them both to the Play Store, and the device will update with the most appropriate version for that device. Read more about multiple APK support in the Play Store.

Unfolding right now at #AndroidDevSummit!

Posted by Stephanie Cuthbertson, Director of Product Management

Today, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, we kicked off the Android Dev Summit, taking a look back at the last 10 years of Android and then jumping into some important new features for Android developers. Here's a look at some of the things we shared!

Unfolding Android into new experiences

As early as Android 1.6, Android and our partners have contemplated different screen sizes and densities, enabling the platform to power a broad category of form factors and new experiences like Android TV, Android Auto, Wear OS and even Android apps on Chromebooks. Phone screens are an area where Android partners set the bar, introducing "phablets" when phone screens were small. Fast forward to today, when a phablet is... just a phone, a standard size users have come to love.

Now we see a Android device makers creating a new category: Foldables. Taking advantage of new flexible display technology, the screen can literally bend and fold.

There are two variants broadly speaking: two-screen devices and one-screen devices. When folded, foldables look like phones, fitting in your pocket or purse. When unfolded, their defining feature is what we call screen continuity. For example, start a video with the folded smaller screen - and later you can sit down and unfold the device to get a larger tablet-sized screen for a beautiful, immersive experience. As you unfold, the app seamlessly transfers to the bigger screen without missing a beat. We're optimizing Android for this new form factor. And, making changes to help developers everywhere take advantage of the possibilities this creates for amazing new experiences, new ways to engage and delight your users. Tune in to the Foldables session at Dev Summit this week to learn more. Expect to see Foldables coming from several Android manufacturers, including one Samsung previewed today and plans to offer next year.

Kotlin: updates to the fastest growing language

We made Kotlin a first class language on Android in 2017. This month we had over 118,000 new projects using Kotlin started in Android Studio - from those users who opt in to share metrics. That's a 10X increase from last year. It's become the fastest growing language in terms of growth of number of contributors on GitHub, and voted the #2 most loved language on Stack Overflow. In our surveys, the more developers use Kotlin, the higher their satisfaction.

Last week, JetBrains released the latest version of Kotlin, 1.3, which brings new language features, APIs, bug fixes, and performance improvements:

  • Inline classes allow you to create a type which doesn't allocate unless boxed. For the constrained devices that Android apps target, avoiding allocation while retaining type-safety is a big advantage.
  • Unsigned numbers are now part of the Kotlin standard library including UInt, UByte, and ULong. These new types are built using inline classes.
  • Multiplatform code previously written for Android or the JVM can now also target Javascript or native. This unlocks the possibility of reusing parts of your codebase on even more platforms.
  • Coroutines support is now stable. The language and library support combine to simplify how you interact with asynchronous operations and perform concurrent work–things that are essential to every Android app.

All of these new features of Kotlin 1.3 will be integrated into the Kotlin-specific APIs that we provide–a majority of which are through KTX extensions as part of Jetpack.

Android Jetpack: Navigation, Work Manager, and Slices

At Google I/O we announced Jetpack, the next generation of tools and Android APIs to accelerate Android application development. Jetpack builds on the foundations laid out by Support Library and Architecture. Already, 80% of top 1,000 apps and games are using one of the new Jetpack libraries in production.

This summer we moved AndroidX - Jetpack's evolution of the original Android Support Library - to public AOSP. This means you can see features and bug fixes implemented in real-time, and contribute to any of the AndroidX libraries. You can learn more about contributing here.

We've been working to get as much feedback and refinement as possible on two new Architecture Component libraries: Navigation and Work Manager, and we plan to move both to Beta this month. The Navigation Architecture Component offers a simplified way to implement Android's navigation principles in your application, using a single Activity. Plus, the new Navigation Editor in Android Studio creates and edits your navigation architecture. This eliminates navigation boilerplate, gives you atomic navigation operations, easier animated transitions and more. WorkManager makes it easy to perform background tasks in the most efficient manner, choosing the most appropriate solution based on the application state and device API level.

Navigation Editor

We're also excited to see Android Slices move to public Search experiments! At I/O this year we introduced Slices, a new way to bring users to your app. Slices are like a mini snippet of your app, where you can surface content and actions. You can book a flight, play a video, or call a ride. Slices is another example where we want to be open very early, but we want to take the time to get it right. We're moving into public EAP this month with Doist, Kayak and others. We'll run experiments surfacing Slices in Google search results. To learn more, there's also a session today at Dev Summit with more info and best practices.

Android Studio: focusing on productivity, build speed, quality and fundamentals

Android Studio is our official IDE for Android development. We asked where do you spend the most time? When we gather data from Android Studio's opted-in users we see that build time are getting faster with every release, sometimes as fast as 20%, but we also see build time getting slower and slower over time. So, how can both things be true? We've been digging in hard to understand.

It turns out build is a pretty complicated ecosystem. Developer choices makes a huge difference. Our developers are using a very broad (and growing) combination of OSes, custom plug-ins, annotation processors, languages. All of these can significantly affect times. In one case, a plugin some users like to add was silently slowing build speeds by up to 45%. Learning this, we realized we need build profiling and analysis tools so you can easily understand what's slowing your build down. We're also investing more in our own plugins to accelerate performance to make sure we continue to improve the performance of core build.

Android Studio 3.3 launches beta 3 today. In coming releases expect to see a strong focus on quality and fundamentals: reducing the number of crashes and hangs, optimizing memory usage, and fixing user-impacting bugs. We also announced today that we're making Android Studio an officially supported IDE on Chrome OS early next year; learn more here.

Android App Bundles and dynamic features

App sizes have grown dramatically, up 5x since 2012. But larger apps have downsides: lower install conversion rates, lower update rates, and higher uninstalls. This is why we built the Android App Bundle, the new publishing format that serves only the code and resources a user needs to run your app on their specific device; on average apps see 35% size savings compared to a universal APK. The app bundle also saves you time and effort with each release since you don't need to use incomplete solutions like multi-APK. Android Studio 3.2 brought full IDE support of app bundles, and there are now thousands of app bundles in production totaling billions of installs, including Google's apps like YouTube, Google Maps, Google Photos, and Google News.

The app bundle now supports uncompressed native libraries; with no additional developer work needed, the app bundle now makes apps using native libraries an average of 8% smaller to download and 16% smaller on disk on M+ devices.

Once you switch to the app bundle you can also start modularizing your app. With dynamic feature modules, you can load any app functionality on demand instead of at install time. You don't need to keep big features that are only used once, on every single device forever; dynamic features can be installed and uninstalled dynamically when your app requests them.

In-app Updates API

We've heard that you'd like more controls to ensure that users are running the latest and greatest version of your app. To address this, we're launching an In-app Updates API. We're testing the API with early access partners and will be launching it to all developers soon.

You'll have two options with this API; the first is a full-screen experience for critical updates when you expect the user to wait for the update to be applied immediately. The second option is a flexible update, which means the user can keep using the app while the update is downloaded. You can completely customize the update flow so it feels like part of your app.

Instant discovery

We're also making instant apps easier than ever to adopt. We recently made using web URLs optional, enabling you to take your existing play store deep link traffic and send users to your instant experience if it's available. Additionally, we've raised the instant app size limit to 10MB for the Try Now button on the Play Store and web banners to make it even easier to adopt.

In the Android Studio 3.3 beta, you can now build an instant-enabled app bundle. This means that you can now build and deploy both your Instant and installed experiences from a single Android Studio project, and include them in a single Android App Bundle. You only have to upload just ONE artifact for both instant and installed app.

As developers, your feedback has been critical in shaping these investment areas; you are part of how we work, from early ideas, to EAPs and canaries, Beta, and iterating after launch. We hope you join us for the next two days whether you're watching the 30+ sessions on the livestream, joining social, or with us in-person in Mountain View. From the team, a sincere thank you for all your thoughtful feedback and contributions. We hope you enjoy Android Dev Summit.

Android Studio 3.2

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Today, Android Studio 3.2 is available for download. Android Studio 3.2 is the best way for app developers to cut into the latest Android 9 Pie release and build the new Android App bundle. Since announcing this update of Android Studio at Google I/O '18, we have refined and polished 20+ new features and focused our efforts on improving the quality for this stable release of Android Studio 3.2.

Every developer should use Android Studio 3.2 to transition to using an Android App Bundle, the new app publishing format. With very minimal work, you can generate an app bundle with Android Studio. Once you upload your app bundle to Google Play you can distribute smaller, optimized apps to your users. Early adopters have already seen between 11% - 64% in app size savings with app bundles over the legacy APK app size.

Another feature you do not want to miss is the Energy Profiler. This new profiler gives you a set of tools that will help you diagnose and improve the energy impact of your app. Better device battery life is one of the top most user requests, and with the Energy Profiler in Android Studio 3.2, you can do your part in improving device battery life by making sure your app is using the right amount of energy at the right time.

Lastly, you should also check out the new Android Emulator Snapshots feature. By using this feature, you can quickly take a snapshot of the current state of your emulator which includes the current state of the screen, apps, and settings. You can resume or boot into your emulator snapshot in under 2 seconds. For any app developer looking for super- fast boot times, or seeking to run tests in a predictable Android environment, Android Emulator Snapshots is a game changing feature for app development

On top of these major features, there are 20 new features plus many under-the-hood quality refinements in Android Studio 3.2. By using Android Studio 3.2, you can also develop for the latest technologies ranging from Android Jetpack, to the latest in Google Artificial Intelligence (AI) APIs with Android Slices.

Thank you to those who gave your early feedback on both the canary and beta releases. Your feedback helped us improve the quality and features in Android Studio 3.2. If you are ready for the next stable release, and want to use a new set of productivity features, Android Studio 3.2 is ready to download for you to get started.

Below is a full list of new features in Android Studio 3.2, organized by key developer flows.

Develop

  • Slices support - Slices is a new way to tap into the built-in Android AI capabilities by surfacing app content in Google Search suggestions and the Google Assistant. Android Studio 3.2 has a built-in template to help you extend your app with the new Slice Provider APIs as well as new lint checks to ensure that you're following best practices when constructing the slices. To use, right-click on a project folder, and navigate to NewOtherSlice Provider. Learn more.

Slices Provider Template

  • Sample Data - This feature allows you to use placeholder data to aid in the design of your app. This will help you visualize layouts that depend on runtime data. You can add built-in sample data to populate views such as RecyclerViews, ImageViews, and TextViews via a popup-window in the Layout Editor. Learn more.
  • Material Design Update - When you start migrating from the Android Design support library to the new MaterialComponents app theme and library, Android Studio 3.2 will offer you access to new and updated widgets such as BottomAppBar, buttons, cards, text fields, new font styles and more. Learn more.
  • CMakeList Editing Support - For those using C/C++ in their app, Android Studio has better support for CMake. With this release of Android Studio 3.2, code completion and syntax highlighting now works on common CMakeList build script commands.
  • What's New Assistant - Android Studio 3.2 has a new assistant panel that opens automatically after an update to inform you about the latest changes to the IDE. You can also open the panel by navigating to Help → What's New in Android Studio.
  • AndroidX Refactoring Support - One of the components of Android Jetpack is the introduction of the Android extension libraries (AndroidX) as a replacement for the Android Support Libraries. To add AndroidX to a new project you just need to add android.useAndroidX=true to your gradle.properties file. Additionally, Android Studio 3.2 has a new built-in refactoring action to help migrate your project the new namespace and dependencies. Also if you have any Maven dependencies that have not migrated to the AndroidX namespace, the Android Studio build system will automatically convert those project dependencies as well. Learn more.
  • IntelliJ Platform Update - Android Studio 3.2 includes the IntelliJ 2018.1.6 platform release. This IntelliJ release adds many improvements to dataflow analysis, debugging, new inspections, inline external annotations, partial Git commits, plus much more. Learn more.
  • Kotlin Update - Android Studio 3.2 bundles Kotlin 1.2.61, with support for the Kotlin-friendly Android 9 Pie SDK. Learn more.

Build

  • Android App Bundle - The Android App Bundle is the new app publishing format designed to help you deliver smaller APKs to your users and reduce download size of your app. Google Play's new app serving model, called Dynamic Delivery, processes your app bundle to generate and serve optimized APKs for each user's device configuration, so they download only the code and resources they need to run your app. With Android Studio 3.2 or via the command line, you can easily build your code as an app bundle and get the benefit of smaller APKs based on language, screen density, and ABIs with no changes to your app code. Learn more.

Build Android App Bundle

  • D8 Desugaring - In some cases, new Java Language features require new bytecodes and language APIs. However, older Android devices may not support these features. Desugaring allows you to use these features on older devices by replacing new bytecodes and language APIs with older ones during the build process. D8 desugaring is turned on by default for Android Studio 3.2 and you can now use most of the latest language changes while targeting older devices.
  • R8 Optimizer - Starting with Android Studio 3.2, we are starting the transition to use R8 as a replacement for ProGuard to optimize and shrink Java language bytecode. R8 is still experimental, so we do not recommend publishing your app using R8 yet, but it is a good time to give the Android Studio team early feedback so we can make any adjustments before R8 fully replaces ProGuard. Learn more.

Test

  • Emulator Snapshots - The latest release of the Android Emulator allows you to create a snapshot of the current state of your emulator and boot up and switch into any snapshot in under 2 seconds. Built upon the Android Emulator Quickboot feature, Android Snapshots are even faster to save and load with this stable release due to under-the-hood speed enhancements. When testing and developing your app, Android snapshots allow you to pre-configure an Android Virtual Device (AVD) snapshot with the presets, apps, data and settings that you want in-place, and repeatedly go back to the same snapshot. Learn more.

Android Emulator Snapshots

  • Microsoft® Hyper-V™ Support - You can now run the Android Emulator on Windows® 10 computers that have Hyper-V enabled. Intel HAXM is still the default hypervisor for the fastest Android Emulator experience. However,thanks to recent open source contributions by Microsoft, and the addition of the new Windows Hypervisor Platform (WHPX) API, the Android Emulator can coexist with other Hyper-V-backed applications, like local Virtual Machines, using the new Hyper-V Support. Learn more.
  • AMD® Processor Support - AMD Processors are now supported by the Android Emulator on Windows 10. Previously running the Android Emulator was limited to slow software emulation when running Windows, but developers who have an AMD processor can now have hardware accelerated performance. Learn more.
  • Screen Record in Android Emulator - You can now record both screen and audio on any Android API level with the new screen record feature in the Android Emulator. In the past, screen recording on a physical Android device only worked on Android 4.4 KitKat (API 19) and above with no audio, with limited Android Emulator support. With the latest Android Emulator (v28.0.+) you no longer have this restriction. As an added bonus, there is a built-in conversion to output to GIF and WebM. You can trigger the new screen record feature via the Android Emulator Extended Controls panel, command line and from Android Studio. Lean more
  • Virtual Scene Camera for Android Emulator - The new Virtual Scene camera in the Android Emulator helps you to develop for ARCore, Google's platform for building augmented reality experiences. The emulator is calibrated to work with ARCore APIs for AR apps and also allows you to inject virtual scene bitmap images. The virtual scene camera can also be used as a regular HAL3 compatible camera. Learn more.
  • ADB Connection Assistant - Android Studio 3.2 has a new assistant system to help troubleshoot your Android ADB device connections issues. The ADB Connection Assistant walks you through common troubleshooting steps to connect your Android device to your development machine. You can trigger the assistant from the Run dialog box or by navigating to ToolsConnection Assistant . Learn more.

Optimize

  • Energy Profiler - Battery life is a key concern for many phone users, and your app may impact battery life more than you realize. The new Energy Profiler in the Android Studio performance profiler suite can help you understand the energy impact of your app on an Android device. You can now visualize the estimated energy usage of system components, plus inspect background events that may contribute to battery drain. To use the energy profiler, ensure you are connected to an Android device or emulator running Android 8.0 Oreo (API 26) or higher. Learn more.

Energy Profiler

  • System Trace - The new System Trace feature in the CPU Profiler allows you to inspect how your app interacts with system resources in fine-grained detail. Inspect exact timings and durations of your thread states, visualize where your CPU bottlenecks are across all cores, and add custom trace events to analyze. To use system trace, start profiling your app, click into the CPU Profiler, and then choose the System Trace recording configuration. Learn more.
  • Profiler Sessions - We now automatically save Profiler data as "sessions" to revisit and inspect later while you have Android Studio open. We've also added the ability to import and export your CPU recordings and heap dumps for later analysis or inspection with other tools. Learn more.
  • Automatic CPU Recording - You can now automatically record CPU activity using the Debug API. After you deploy your app to a device, the profiler automatically starts recording CPU activity when your app calls startMethodTracing(String tracePath), and stops recording when your app calls stopMethodTracing(). Similarly, you can also now automatically start recording CPU activity on app start-up by enabling Start Recording a Method Trace on Startup option in your run configuration. Learn more.
  • JNI Reference Tracking - For those of you who have C/C++ code in your Android app, Android Studio 3.2 now allows you to inspect the memory allocations of your JNI code in the Memory Profiler. As long as you deploy your app to a device running Android 8.0 Oreo (API 26) and higher, you can drill down into the allocation call stack from your JNI reference. To use the feature, start a memory profiler session, and select the JNI Heap from the Live Allocation drop-down menu. Learn more.

To recap, the latest canary of Android Studio 3.2 includes these new major features:

Develop

  • AndroidX Refactoring
  • Sample Data
  • Material Design Update
  • Android Slices
  • CMakeList editing
  • What's New Assistant
  • New Lint Checks
  • Intellij Platform Update
  • Kotlin Update

Build

  • Android App Bundle
  • D8 Desugaring
  • R8 Optimizer
Test
  • Android Emulator Snapshots
  • Screen Record in Android Emulator
  • Virtual Scene Android Emulator Camera
  • AMD Processor Support
  • Hyper-V Support
  • ADB Connection Assistant

Optimize

  • Energy Profiler
  • System Trace
  • Profiler Sessions
  • Automatic CPU Recording
  • JNI Reference Tracking

Check out the release notes for more details.

Getting Started

Download the latest version of Android Studio 3.2 from the download page. If you are using a previous canary release of Android Studio, make sure you update to Android Studio Canary 14 or higher. 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 v28.0.7+ downloaded via the Android Studio SDK Manager.

We appreciate any feedback on things you like, and issues or features you would like to see. Please note, to maintain high product quality, a couple features (e.g. Navigation Editor) you saw in earlier release channels are not enabled by default in the stable release channel. If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue. Connect with us -- the Android Studio development team ‐ on our Google+ page or on Twitter.

Verifying your Google Assistant media action integrations on Android

Posted by Nevin Mital, Partner Developer Relations

The Media Controller Test (MCT) app is a powerful tool that allows you to test the intricacies of media playback on Android, and it's just gotten even more useful. Media experiences including voice interactions via the Google Assistant on Android phones, cars, TVs, and headphones, are powered by Android MediaSession APIs. This tool will help you verify your integrations. We've now added a new verification testing framework that can be used to help automate your QA testing.

The MCT is meant to be used in conjunction with an app that implements media APIs, such as the Universal Android Music Player. The MCT surfaces information about the media app's MediaController, such as the PlaybackState and Metadata, and can be used to test inter-app media controls.

The Media Action Lifecycle can be complex to follow; even in a simple Play From Search request, there are many intermediate steps (simplified timeline depicted below) where something could go wrong. The MCT can be used to help highlight any inconsistencies in how your music app handles MediaController TransportControl requests.

Timeline of the interaction between the User, the Google Assistant, and the third party Android App for a Play From Search request.

Previously, using the MCT required a lot of manual interaction and monitoring. The new verification testing framework offers one-click tests that you can run to ensure that your media app responds correctly to a playback request.

Running a verification test

To access the new verification tests in the MCT, click the Test button next to your desired media app.

MCT Screenshot of launch screen; contains a list of installed media apps, with an option to go to either the Control or Test view for each.

The next screen shows you detailed information about the MediaController, for example the PlaybackState, Metadata, and Queue. There are two buttons on the toolbar in the top right: the button on the left toggles between parsable and formatted logs, and the button on the right refreshes this view to display the most current information.

MCT Screenshot of the left screen in the Testing view for UAMP; contains information about the Media Controller's Playback State, Metadata, Repeat Mode, Shuffle Mode, and Queue.

By swiping to the left, you arrive at the verification tests view, where you can see a scrollable list of defined tests, a text field to enter a query for tests that require one, and a section to display the results of the test.

MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; contains a list of tests, a query text field, and a results display section.

As an example, to run the Play From Search Test, you can enter a search query into the text field then hit the Run Test button. Looks like the test succeeded!

MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; the Play From Search test was run with the query 'Memories' and ended successfully.

Below are examples of the Pause Test (left) and Seek To test (right).

MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; a Pause test was run successfully. MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; a Seek To test was run successfully.

Android TV

The MCT now also works on Android TV! For your media app to work with the Android TV version of the MCT, your media app must have a MediaBrowserService implementation. Please see here for more details on how to do this.

On launching the MCT on Android TV, you will see a list of installed media apps. Note that an app will only appear in this list if it implements the MediaBrowserService.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the launch screen; contains a list of installed media apps that implement the MediaBrowserService.

Selecting an app will take you to the testing screen, which will display a list of verification tests on the right.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the testing screen; contains a list of tests on the right side.

Running a test will populate the left side of the screen with selected MediaController information. For more details, please check the MCT logs in Logcat.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the testing screen; the Pause test was run successfully and the left side of the screen now displays selected MediaController information.

Tests that require a query are marked with a keyboard icon. Clicking on one of these tests will open an input field for the query. Upon hitting Enter, the test will run.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the testing screen; clicking on the Seek To test opened an input field for the query.

To make text input easier, you can also use the ADB command:

adb shell input text [query]

Note that '%s' will add a space between words. For example, the command adb shell input text hello%sworld will add the text "hello world" to the input field.

What's next

The MCT currently includes simple single-media-action tests for the following requests:

  • Play
  • Play From Search
  • Play From Media ID
  • Play From URI
  • Pause
  • Stop
  • Skip To Next
  • Skip To Previous
  • Skip To Queue Item
  • Seek To

For a technical deep dive on how the tests are structured and how to add more tests, visit the MCT GitHub Wiki. We'd love for you to submit pull requests with more tests that you think are useful to have and for any bug fixes. Please make sure to review the contributions process for more information.

Check out the latest updates on GitHub!

Streamlining the developer experience for instant games

Posted by Vlad Zavidovych, Software Engineer; Artem Yudin, Software Engineer

Google Play Instant enables people to experience your game or app natively without having to go through a full installation process. Removing the friction of installing is a great way to increase engagement, conversions, and lifetime value of your users.

Today, we've made it easier to build instant games and apps by removing the URL requirement. Previously, in order to publish an instant game you had to create a web destination for it. The website also had to be connected to the instant game through intent filters and digital asset links verification.

Now, it is no longer required to add URL-based intent filters to your instant game. People will be able to access the instant experience through a 'Try Now' button in the Play Store or Play Games apps, via deep link API, and in the future through the app ads.

While being particularly helpful for games which often don't have a corresponding website, the new URL-less functionality is available to both game and app developers.

How to develop and publish an instant game without adding URL support

Game developers using Unity or the latest Cocos Creator can take advantage of URL-less instant games by simply leaving the URL fields blank in the setup process.

However, if you have your own game engine or have built your game from scratch in C++, check the AndroidManifest to make sure it has the following intent filter declaration:

<intent-filter>
   <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
   <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
</intent-filter>

Starting with Android Studio 3.2, you can create a new instant game, or convert your existing game, without associating a URL with it. In fact, this is now the default behavior. Here is a run through the process:

  1. First, make sure you're running Android Studio 3.2 or newer by either updating or downloading it here. Make sure to install Instant Apps Development SDK 1.3.0 or higher from Android SDK Manager.
  2. Then download a sample instant app from GitHub. In Android Studio, click File → New → Import Project… and import the downloaded "urlless" sample.
  3. Lastly, after gradle tasks are finished, click the green "Run" button with "instantapp" configuration.

You should see an instant game on your attached device. Instant runtime found and launched the entry point activity in your game with the ACTION_MAIN and CATEGORY_LAUNCHER intent filter.

Once you are ready to publish the sample instant game:

  1. Give your sample game a unique applicationId in app/build.gradle file by replacing existing applicationId - we don't want different applications with the same id.
  2. Generate signed APKs for both installable and instant version of our sample game.
    • In Android Studio, Build → Generate Signed Bundle / APK…
    • Choose APK for both "app" and "instantapp" modules.
  3. In the Play Console, create a new application, upload APK under "App Releases" tab, and then upload "instantapp-release.zip" under "Android Instant Apps" tab.
    • The installable app must be rolled out before the instant one.
  4. The rollout process may be familiar to most Android developers, but here's a step-by-step guide in case you run into any issues.

Once you publish your instant game, people can access it via a 'Try Now' button in Play Store within 24 hours or sooner. You can also send traffic to your instant game using the deep link API:

market://details?id=MY.PACKAGE.NAME&launch=true&referrer=myreferrer

MY.PACKAGE.NAME refers to applicationId that you have replaced in app/build.gradle file.

What's next?

With the launch of Android App Bundle we are excited to further simplify the developer experience for Google Play Instant. In the coming months we are making it possible to deliver your app's or game's dynamic features instantly from the same bundle as your installable app or game. Stay tuned!

Check out more information on Google Play Instant, or feel free to ask a question on Stack Overflow, or report an issue to our public tracker.

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Updating your games for modern Android

Posted by Tom Greenaway, Senior Partner Developer Advocate

Last year we announced that starting from August 2018 Google Play will require all new apps and games to target a recent Android API level – set to API level 26 (Android 8.0 Oreo), or higher. Additionally, this requirement will extend to updates for existing apps and games starting from November 2018.

Every new Android version introduces changes that bring significant security and performance improvements – and enhance the user experience of Android overall. Updating your games to target the latest API level ensures that your users can benefit from these improvements, while still allowing your games to run on older Android versions.

Simple next steps:

  • Install the Android 8.0 Oreo SDK (API level 26) via Android Studio by navigating to (Tools > Android > SDK Manager > Android SDK > SDK Platforms).
  • Update your game to target API level 26 and see whether your game has any incompatibilities or issues as soon as possible. Update any external dependencies as necessary. Learn more about the incremental changes between versions of Android here.
  • If you are using an advertising network, SDK or plugin which is incompatible with API level 26, reach out to your contacts and find out their timeline for supporting target API level 26. The sooner they're aware of these changes the better.
  • If you build your game with Unity, support for target API 26 is built into Unity 5.6.6 and beyond. Simply ensure the latest target API level is selected in your Android build settings for Unity (Build Settings > Android > Player Settings). For versions of Unity 5.6.5 and prior, consult this documentation which includes a workaround for versions dating back to 4.3.
  • For games built with Unreal, check your Android platform settings has the "Target SDK Version" set to 26.
  • If you use Cocos2D-X, check the target API level in the gradle.properties file that is generated.

Significant changes to be aware of:

  • Since API 23, we have required permissions be requested at runtime which helps streamline the app install process.
  • Since API 24, apps can no longer dynamically link against non-NDK libraries. If your app (including third-party static libraries) contains native code, you should only be using public NDK APIs.
  • If your game uses Android push notifications, the Google Play Services SDK in your game will need to be updated to version 10.2.1 or above for your game to support API level 26.
  • If your game uses opaque binary blobs (OBB), then your game must check if it can access the directory before attempting to access the OBB files themselves. We recommend explicitly requesting permission for access using the Runtime Permissions API, and gracefully handling cases wherein the permission is not granted. Additionally, add an entry in the manifest for the external storage access:
    <uses-permission android:name="android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE" />
    

Moving ahead

Remember, updating the target API level is just the first step – make sure your game is compatible with the behavior changes between your current target API level and API level 26. Check out further guidance on the changes in past versions of Android to help in your migration process. These policy changes are important for moving the Android ecosystem forward and keeping it healthy for our users – and yours.

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Android Emulator – AMD Processor & Hyper-V Support

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Since the major revamp of the Android Emulator two years ago, we have focused on delivering a fast and feature-rich emulator to help you build great app experiences for users. Today, the Android Emulator is the top device deployed to from Android Studio — more than 2x over physical Android devices. We are humbled to hear from many of you that the Android Emulator has come a long way, but we are not done yet.

Making the Android Emulator faster is one of the top priorities for the Android Studio team. Over the last few releases, we have launched quick boot & emulator snapshots for quickly starting and resuming emulator sessions in under 2 seconds. Up until now, our emulator experience has almost universally worked on macOS® and Linux computers. But for users of Microsoft® Windows® or the Microsoft® Hyper-V platform, our hardware accelerated speed enhancements for the Android Emulator only worked with computers with Intel® processors. Support for AMD® processors and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor are two long-standing user requests from the Android developer community that we are happy to address with this Android Emulator update.

Today, you can download the latest Android Emulator release, which is enabled to run x86 based Android Virtual Devices (AVD) on computers that use AMD processors. This exciting update makes the Android Emulator more accessible to a new set of Android app developers that were previously limited to software emulation, but can now have hardware accelerated performance. Moreover, for those of you who use Hyper-V to run your local app backend, the Android Emulator can now also coexist with other Hyper-V-backed applications on Windows® 10.

Thanks to a new Microsoft Windows Hypervisor Platform (WHPX) API and recent open-source contributions from Microsoft, even more Android app developers can take advantage of all the speed improvements and features in the Android Emulator.

Android Emulator running on Windows 10 with AMD Processor Screenshot Configuration: Asus ROG Strix GL 702ZC, Processor: AMD® Ryzen 7 1700 Processor, Chipset: AMD 5350, Graphics: AMD® Radeon RX580

Support for these technologies was initially available in the v27.3.8 Android Emulator canary release and today we are releasing this set of preview features (AMD processor & Hyper-V support) on the stable channel for more feedback. Alongside this update, we have added additional speed improvements in loading emulator snapshots for those developers using the Intel® Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM).

How to use

Linux

If you use Linux for Android app development, the Android Emulator will continue to use the native Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) hypervisor for both Intel and AMD based computers for a fast and performant virtualization solution. An update to the v27.3.8 Android Emulator will offer you the new snapshots UI along with improvements to performance, reliability and resource usage.

macOS

For OS X v10.10 Yosemite and higher, the Android Emulator uses the built-in Hypervisor.Framework by default, and falls back to using the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM) if Hypervisor.Framework fails to initialize (such as when running on OS X v10.9 or earlier). Once you update to the latest Android Emulator on macOS, you will also have access to the new snapshots UI along with under the hood performance and reliability improvements.

Android Emulator - Snapshots Extended Controls

Microsoft Windows

On Intel x86-based computers, the Android Emulator will continue to use Intel HAXM by default. Intel HAXM is a mature and open-sourced hypervisor solution developed by Intel. Thanks to on-going development by Intel, the fastest emulator performance on Windows is still with Intel HAXM. To download the latest Intel HAXM v7.2.0, check for updates in the Android SDK Manager.

If you have an AMD processor in your computer you need the following setup requirements to be in place:

  • AMD Processor - Recommended: AMD® Ryzen processors
  • Android Studio 3.2 Beta or higher - download via Android Studio Preview page
  • Android Emulator v27.3.8+ - download via Android Studio SDK Manager
  • x86 Android Virtual Device (AVD) - Create AVD
  • Windows 10 with April 2018 Update
  • Enable via Windows Features: "Windows Hypervisor Platform"

Windows Hypervisor Platform setting in Windows 10

If you want to use Hyper-V at the same time as the Android Emulator on your Intel processor-based computer, you will also need the same Android Studio and Android Emulator versions as listed above, but with the additional requirements:

  • Enable via Windows Features: "Hyper-V" - Only available for Windows 10 Professional/Education/Enterprise
  • Intel Processor : Intel® Core processor that supports Virtualization Technology (VT-x), Extended Page Tables (EPT), and Unrestricted Guest (UG) features. Additionally VT-x needs to be enabled in the BIOS.

For more setup tips and troubleshooting details, check out the documentation page.

Again, for existing Windows users who have an Intel-based processor, the Android Emulator will continue to use the faster and recommended Intel HAXM configuration. For those using AMD processors, and those who use Hyper-V hypervisors, this should be an exciting step forward to start using the Android Emulator.

Next Steps & Feedback

Download the latest Android Emulator from the Android Studio 3.2 Beta SDK Manager for the latest performance updates across all supported platforms that you are using. We are going to continue to invest in performance improvements for each of the platforms and we look forward to your feedback and feature requests.

If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue. Connect with us -- the Android Studio development team ‐ on our Google+ page or on Twitter.

Android Studio 3.2 Beta

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

Starting today, you can download Android Studio 3.2 Beta. Previewed at Google I/O 2018, the latest release of the official Android IDE is focused on helping onboard you to all the new features launched around Google I/O -- Android JetPack, Android P Developer Preview, and the new Android App Bundle format. There are also several other exciting new features included in Android Studio 3.2 to accelerate your app development, such as Emulator Snapshots and the Energy Profiler.

As the usage of Android Studio has grown in the 3.5 years since version 1.0, we have also become increasingly obsessed with quality. We continue to invest in quality because we know that millions of app developers spend almost everyday in Android Studio and need a reliable set of tools. Stability, build times, and other quality work will be the primary focus for our next release once we finish Android Studio 3.2. We also did not want to wait, so we have made checkins to address memory leaks and performance issues as well as fixed more than 450 bugs. Thank you for the continued feedback and please keep it coming so we can focus on the areas you care about most in the next version of Android Studio. If want to try out the latest features, and assess the improvements in quality, you can download Android Studio on the beta release channel.

What is inside of Android Studio 3.2

Building on the canary release of Android Studio 3.2, the Beta release includes:

  • Android App Bundle support - The Android App Bundle is a new publishing format that uses the Google Play's Dynamic Delivery, which delivers a smaller, optimized APK that only contains the resources needed for a specific device. Without any code changes, you can take advantage of the app size savings of an Android App Bundle by navigating to Build Build Bundle / APK or BuildGenerate Signed Bundle / APK.

Build Android App Bundle

  • Emulator Snapshots - With Android Studio 3.2 you can create snapshots at any emulator state and then start a snapshot in under 2 seconds. You can pre-configure an Android Virtual Device (AVD) snapshot with the apps, data and settings that you want and then repeatedly go back to the same snapshot. Learn more.

Android Emulator Snapshots

  • Energy Profiler - The new Energy Profiler in the performance profiler suite can help you understand the energy impact of your app on an Android device. You can now visualize the estimated energy usage of system components, plus inspect background events that may contribute to battery drain.

Energy Profiler

Check out the full write-up of all the major features organized by development flow listed below and on the canary blog:

Develop

  • Navigation Editor
  • AndroidX Refactoring
  • Sample Data
  • Material Design Update
  • Android Slices
  • CMakeList editing
  • What's New Assistant
  • New Lint Checks
  • Intellij Platform Update

Build

  • Android App Bundle
  • D8 Desugaring
  • R8 Optimizer
Test
  • Android Emulator Snapshots
  • Screen Record in Android Emulator
  • Virtual Scene Android Emulator Camera
  • ADB Connection Assistant

Optimize

  • Energy Profiler
  • System Trace
  • Profiler Sessions
  • Automatic CPU Recording
  • JNI Reference Tracking

Sessions at Google I/O '18

With the release of Android Studio 3.2 at Google I/O '18, the Android Studio team also presented a series of sessions about Android Studio. Watch the following videos to see the latest features in action and to get tips & tricks on how to use Android Studio:

Download & Feedback

Download the latest version of Android Studio 3.2 from the beta channel download page. If you are using a previous versions of Android Studio, make sure you update to Android Studio Beta 1 or higher. If you also 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 v27.3+ downloaded via the Android Studio SDK Manager.

Please note, to ensure we maintain product quality, some of the features you saw in the canary channel like Navigation Editor are not enabled by default. To turn on canary release channel features go to File → Settings → Experimental → Editor → Enable Navigation Editor.

If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue. Connect with us -- the Android Studio development team ‐ on our Google+ page or on Twitter.

Android Studio switching to D8 dexer

Posted by Jeffrey van Gogh, Software Engineering Manager

D8 now default dex compiler

Faster, smarter app compilation is always a goal for the Android tools teams. That's why we previously announced D8, a next-generation dex compiler. D8 runs faster and produces smaller .dex files with equivalent or better runtime performance when compared to the historic compiler - DX.

We recently announced that D8 has become the default compiler in Android Studio 3.1. If you haven't previously tried D8, we hope that you notice better, faster dex compilation as you make the switch.

D8 was first shipped in Android Studio 3.0 as an opt-in feature. In addition to our own rigorous testing, we've now seen it perform well in a wide variety of apps. As a result, we're confident that D8 will work well for everyone who starts using it in 3.1. However, if you do have issues, you can always revert to DX for now via this setting in your project's gradle.properties file:

android.enableD8=false

If you do encounter something that causes you to disable D8, please let us know!

Next Steps

Our goal is to ensure that everyone has access to a fast, correct dex compiler. So to avoid risking regressions for any of our users, we'll be deprecating DX in three phases

The first phase is intended to prevent prematurely deprecating DX. During this phase, DX will remain available in studio. We'll fix critical issues in it, but there won't be new features. This phase will last for at least six months, during which we'll evaluate any open D8 bugs to decide if there are regressions which would prevent some users from replacing DX with D8. The first phase won't end until the team addresses all migration blockers. We'll be paying extra attention to the bug tracker during this window, so If you encounter any of these regressions, please file an issue.

Once we've seen a six month window without major regressions from DX to D8, we'll enter the second phase. This phase will last for a year, and is intended to ensure that even complex projects have lots of time to migrate. During this phase, we'll keep DX available, but we'll treat it as fully deprecated; we won't be fixing any issues.

During the third and final phase, DX will be removed from Android Studio. At this point, you'll need to use a legacy version of the Android Gradle Plugin in order to continue to build with DX.

Android Studio switching to D8 dexer

Posted by Jeffrey van Gogh, Software Engineering Manager

D8 now default dex compiler

Faster, smarter app compilation is always a goal for the Android tools teams. That's why we previously announced D8, a next-generation dex compiler. D8 runs faster and produces smaller .dex files with equivalent or better runtime performance when compared to the historic compiler - DX.

We recently announced that D8 has become the default compiler in Android Studio 3.1. If you haven't previously tried D8, we hope that you notice better, faster dex compilation as you make the switch.

D8 was first shipped in Android Studio 3.0 as an opt-in feature. In addition to our own rigorous testing, we've now seen it perform well in a wide variety of apps. As a result, we're confident that D8 will work well for everyone who starts using it in 3.1. However, if you do have issues, you can always revert to DX for now via this setting in your project's gradle.properties file:

android.enableD8=false

If you do encounter something that causes you to disable D8, please let us know!

Next Steps

Our goal is to ensure that everyone has access to a fast, correct dex compiler. So to avoid risking regressions for any of our users, we'll be deprecating DX in three phases

The first phase is intended to prevent prematurely deprecating DX. During this phase, DX will remain available in studio. We'll fix critical issues in it, but there won't be new features. This phase will last for at least six months, during which we'll evaluate any open D8 bugs to decide if there are regressions which would prevent some users from replacing DX with D8. The first phase won't end until the team addresses all migration blockers. We'll be paying extra attention to the bug tracker during this window, so If you encounter any of these regressions, please file an issue.

Once we've seen a six month window without major regressions from DX to D8, we'll enter the second phase. This phase will last for a year, and is intended to ensure that even complex projects have lots of time to migrate. During this phase, we'll keep DX available, but we'll treat it as fully deprecated; we won't be fixing any issues.

During the third and final phase, DX will be removed from Android Studio. At this point, you'll need to use a legacy version of the Android Gradle Plugin in order to continue to build with DX.