Tag Archives: Featured

Improve your app mileage with Android for Cars App library

Posted by Madan Ankapura, Product Manager

In April, we announced our first version of the Android for Cars App Library as part of Jetpack, reaching a milestone to let developers publish their navigation, parking, charging apps on the Google Play Store.

Today, we’re announcing that version 1.1 is in alpha, which brings the following features to developers:

  • Sign-in template - Allows users to sign in to your app directly from the car screen while parked.
  • Long Message template - Allows you to show long messages like terms of service to users as part of the setup flow while parked.
  • Multiple-length text - Different car screen sizes may show different amounts of text. We added an API you can use to specify multiple variants of a text string in select templates to fit different screen sizes.
  • Map Interactivity - You can now add capabilities such as zooming and panning to your navigation template.
Android for Cars App library

For the entire list of changes, please see the release notes. To start building your app for the car, check out our updated developer documentation, car quality guidelines and design guidelines.

These library features are available for testing only with the Desktop Head Unit. We will announce when these features are available to run in cars in the future.

If you’re interested in joining our Early Access Program in the future, please fill out this interest form. You can get started with the Android for Cars App Library today, by visiting g.co/androidforcars.

Android 12 Beta 2 Update

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

Android 12 logo

Just a few weeks ago at Google I/O we unwrapped the first beta of Android 12, focusing on a new UI that adapts to you, improved performance, and privacy and security at the core. For developers, Android 12 gives you better tools to build delightful experiences for people on phones, laptops, tablets, wearables, TVs, and cars.

Today we’re releasing the second Beta of Android 12 for you to try. Beta 2 adds new privacy features like the Privacy Dashboard and continues our work of refining the release.

End-to-end there’s a lot for developers in Android 12 - from the redesigned UI and app widgets, to rich haptics, improved video and image quality, privacy features like approximate location, and much more. For a quick look at related Google I/O sessions, see Android 12 at Google I/O later in the post.

You can get Beta 2 today on your Pixel device by enrolling here for over-the-air updates, and if you previously enrolled for Beta 1, you’ll automatically get today’s update. Android 12 Beta is also available on select devices from several of our partners - learn more at android.com/beta.

Visit the Android 12 developer site for details on how to get started.

What’s new in Beta 2?

Beta 2 includes several of the new privacy features we talked about at Google I/O, as well as various feature updates to improve functionality, stability, and performance. Here are a few highlights.

Privacy Dashboard - We’ve added a Privacy Dashboard to give users better visibility over the data that apps are accessing. The dashboard offers a simple and clear timeline view of all recent app accesses to microphone, camera, and location. Users can also request details from an app on why it has accessed sensitive data, and developers can provide this information in an activity by handling a new system intent, ACTION_VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE_FOR_PERIOD. We recommend that apps take advantage of this intent to proactively help users understand accesses in the given time period. To help you track these accesses in your code and any third-party libraries, we recommend using the Data Auditing APIs. More here.

Privacy Dashboard and location access gif

Privacy dashboard and location access timeline.

Mic and camera indicators - We’ve added indicators to the status bar to let users know when apps are using the device camera or microphone. Users can go to Quick Settings to see which apps are accessing their camera or microphone data and manage permissions if needed. For developers, we recommend reviewing your app’s uses of the microphone and camera and removing any that users would not expect. More here.

Microphone & camera toggles - We’ve added Quick Settings toggles on supported devices that make it easy for users to instantly disable app access to the microphone and camera. When the toggles are turned off, an app accessing these sensors will receive blank camera and audio feeds, and the system handles notifying the user to enable access to use the app’s features. Developers can use a new API, SensorPrivacyManager, to check whether toggles are supported on the device. The microphone and camera controls apply to all apps regardless of their platform targeting. More here.

Clipboard read notification - To give users more transparency on when apps are reading from the clipboard, Android 12 now displays a toast at the bottom of the screen each time an app calls getPrimaryClip(). Android won’t show the toast if the clipboard was copied from the same app. We recommend minimizing your app’s reads from the clipboard, and making sure that you only access the clipboard when it will be expected by users. More here.

More intuitive connectivity experience - To help users understand and manage their network connections better, we’re introducing a simpler and more intuitive connectivity experience across the Status Bar, Quick Settings, and Settings. The new Internet Panel helps users switch between their Internet providers and troubleshoot network connectivity issues more easily. Let us know what you think!

Quick Settings controls

New Internet controls through Quick Settings.

Visit the Android 12 developer site to learn more about all of the new features in Android 12.

Android 12 at Google I/O

At Google I/O we talked about everything that’s new in Android for developers - from Android 12 to Modern Android Development tools, new form factors like Wear and foldables, and Google Play. Here are the top 3 things to know about Android 12 at Google I/O.

#1 A new UI for Android - Android 12 brings the biggest design change in Android's history. We rethought the entire experience, from the colors to the shapes, light and motion, making Android 12 more expressive, dynamic, and personal, under a single design language called Material You.

#2 Performance - With Android 12, we made significant and deep investments in performance, from foundational system performance and battery life to foreground service changes, media quality and performance, and new tools to optimize apps.

#3 Privacy and security - In Android 12 we’re continuing to give users more transparency and control while keeping their devices and data secure.

For an overview of Android 12 for developers, watch this year’s What's new in Android talk, and check out Top 12 tips to get ready for Android 12 for an overview of where to test your app for compatibility. The full list of Android content at Google I/O is here.

App compatibility

With more early-adopter users and developers getting Android 12 beta on Pixel and other devices, now is the time to make sure your apps are ready!

To test your app for compatibility, install the published version from Google Play or other source onto a device or emulator running Android 12 Beta. Work through all of the app’s flows and watch for functional or UI issues. Review the behavior changes to focus your testing. There’s no need to change your app’s targetSdkVersion at this time, so when you’ve resolved any issues, publish an update as soon as possible for your Android 12 Beta users.

timeline for Android 12

With Beta 2, Android 12 is closing in on Platform Stability in August 2021. Starting then, app-facing system behaviors, SDK/NDK APIs, and non-SDK lists will be finalized. At that time, you should finish up your final compatibility testing and release a fully compatible version of your app, SDK, or library. More on the timeline for developers is here.

Get started with Android 12!

Today’s Beta release has everything you need to try the latest Android 12 features, test your apps, and give us feedback. Just enroll any supported Pixel device to get the update over-the-air. To get started developing, set up the Android 12 SDK.

You can also get Android 12 Beta 2 on devices from some of our top device-maker partners like Sharp. Visit android.com/beta to see the full list of partners participating in Android 12 Beta. For even broader testing, you can try Android 12 Beta on Android GSI images, and if you don’t have a device you can test on the Android Emulator.

Beta 2 is also available for Android TV, so you can check out the latest TV features and test your apps on the all-new Google TV experience. Try it out with the ADT-3 developer kit. More here.

For complete details on Android 12 Beta, visit the Android 12 developer site.

Android @ Google I/O: Recapping building across devices

Posted by The Android Team

At Google I/O this year, we talked about how your app can take advantage of Android's different screens, both large and small. But if you missed the show, here are the top things you should know:

Tablets, Foldables, and Large Screens

It's more important than ever to design your app to work well on large screens — including tablets, foldables, and Chrome OS laptops. There are already over 250 million large screen Android devices in use today. Meanwhile, new foldable devices are making it easier for users to multitask, and opening up new experiences like tabletop mode for hands-free activities. See this example of Disney+ using tabletop mode on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2.

foldables image

Fortunately, it's also easier than ever to design apps which seamlessly scale to adapt to any device size — including dynamically resizing on Chrome OS and foldable devices, taking advantage of Jetpack Compose or ConstraintLayout to build responsive layouts. We also studied how people interact with large screens, like where their fingers are placed, and we’re giving you APIs and Tools to make that experience easier:

We’ve also made updates to the Android platform, Chrome OS, and Jetpack WindowManager, so apps just work better by default. For example, many UI elements now have default Max Width values to make sure they look better on large screens, while changes to the Display API ensure that existing apps continue to render correctly on foldables even if they aren't using WindowManager to query window metrics.

Learn more about how we are helping you build for large screens with these I/O sessions:

For even more details, check out the what's new in foldables, tablets, and large screens article, or read the case study on how Google Duo sees increased engagement and improved ratings.

Wear OS

We announced our biggest update yet to the Wear platform, with new features, APIs and tools to help developers create beautiful, high quality wearable experiences.

There are new Jetpack APIs to help you streamline your development. The Tiles library gives users fast, predictable access to the information and actions they rely on most. Another notable addition is the Ongoing Activities API, which enables you to let your users return to your app after they’ve navigated away (to start some other task such as music playback). Both of these libraries are currently in alpha.

We also released a new set of APIs for health and fitness that act as an intermediary to the sensors and related algorithms on the device to provide apps with high-quality data related to activity, exercise, and health. The alpha of the Health Services platform is available to use today.

Download Android Studio Arctic Fox Beta to try out a developer preview of the new Wear system image and start preparing your apps for the new platform. Check out the I/O sessions below to learn more about these announcements:

You can also read more details on the latest changes to Wear, as well as learn about how Spotify is building on Wear.

Android TV

Android TV OS now has over 80 million monthly active devices, with 80% growth in the US and is at the heart of the Google TV experience launched last fall. Meanwhile, Google TV itself can be found on streaming devices like the Chromecast with Google TV, smart TVs from Sony, and as an app on Android devices — including tablets.

This year at I/O, we announced several new tools and features to make developing for Android TV OS easier:

  • Cast Connect with Stream Transfer allows moving existing audio and video streams between cast devices, while Stream Expansion allows playing audio on multiple devices simultaneously.
  • We are now making our first Google TV Emulator available alongside the Android TV emulator, both running on Android 11.
  • Firebase Test Lab is adding Android TV support, letting you test your app in the cloud across hundreds or thousands of virtual devices. Physical Devices will be coming soon.
  • We are making the Android 12 Beta 1 available for TV on ADT-3 today.

These releases make it easier to build and test applications across a range of device configurations, while bringing the latest Android 12, Googler Assistant, and Cast features to the TV. To learn more, watch the What's new in Android TV and Google TV session from I/O.

Android for Cars

Android Auto allows applications to connect with the infotainment displays built into many modern vehicles. To make this even easier we recently made the Android for Cars App Library available as part of Jetpack. This library allows navigation, EV charging, and parking apps to integrate directly with compatible cars.

We plan to expand to more app categories in the future, so if you’re expressing interest in bringing your app to Android Auto please fill out this interest form. You can also get started with the Android for Cars App Library today, by visiting g.co/androidforcars. Watch the What’s new with Android for Cars session from I/O for even more detail, or the accompanying What's new with Android for Cars blog post.

Grow your indie game with help from Google Play

Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Global Developer Marketing

Indie Games Accelerator graphic

At Google Play we’re committed to helping all developers thrive, whether these are large multinational companies or small startups and indie game studios. They are all critical to providing the services and experiences that people around the world look for on their Android devices. The indie game developer community, in particular, constantly pushes the boundaries with their creativity and passion, and bring unique and diverse content to players everywhere.

To continue supporting indies, today we’re opening submissions for two of our annual developer programs - the Indie Games Accelerator and the Indie Games Festival. These programs are designed to help small games studios grow on Google Play, no matter what stage they are in:

  • If you are a small games studio looking for help to launch a new title, apply for the Accelerator to get mentorship and education;
  • Or, if you have already created and launched a high quality game that is ready for the spotlight, enter the Festival for a chance to win promotions.

This year the programs come with some changes, including more eligible markets and fully digital event experiences. Learn more below and apply by July 1st.

Accelerator: Get education and mentorship to supercharge your growth

If you’re an indie developer, early in your journey - either close to launching a new game or recently launched a title, this is the program for you. We’ll provide education and mentorship that will help you build, launch and grow successfully.

This year we have nearly doubled the eligible markets, with developers from over 70 countries being eligible to apply for the 2021 program.

Selected participants will be invited to take part in a 12-week online acceleration program. During this time you’ll get exclusive access to a community of Google and industry experts, as well as a network of other passionate developers from around the world looking to supercharge their growth.

Festival: win promotions that put your game in the spotlight

If you're an indie game developer who has recently launched a high quality game, this is your chance to have your game discovered by industry experts and players worldwide.

This year we will, again, host three competitions for developers from Japan, South Korea, and selected European countries.

Prizes include featuring on Google Play store, promotional campaigns worth 100,000 EUR, and more.

How useful did you find this blog post?

Play Logo

Grow your indie game with help from Google Play

Posted by Patricia Correa, Director, Global Developer Marketing

Indie game image

At Google Play we’re committed to helping all developers thrive, whether these are large multinational companies or small startups and indie game studios. They are all critical to providing the services and experiences that people around the world look for on their Android devices. The indie game developer community, in particular, constantly pushes the boundaries with their creativity and passion, and bring unique and diverse content to players everywhere.

To continue supporting indies, today we’re opening submissions for two of our annual developer programs - the Indie Games Accelerator and the Indie Games Festival. These programs are designed to help small games studios grow on Google Play, no matter what stage they are in:

  • If you are a small games studio looking for help to launch a new title, apply for the Accelerator to get mentorship and education;
  • Or, if you have already created and launched a high quality game that is ready for the spotlight, enter the Festival for a chance to win promotions.

This year the programs come with some changes, including more eligible markets and fully digital event experiences. Learn more below and apply by July 1st.

Accelerator: Get education and mentorship to supercharge your growth

If you’re an indie developer, early in your journey - either close to launching a new game or recently launched a title, this is the program for you. We’ll provide education and mentorship that will help you build, launch and grow successfully.

This year we have nearly doubled the eligible markets, with developers from over 70 countries being eligible to apply for the 2021 program.

Selected participants will be invited to take part in a 12-week online acceleration program. During this time you’ll get exclusive access to a community of Google and industry experts, as well as a network of other passionate developers from around the world looking to supercharge their growth.

Festival: win promotions that put your game in the spotlight

If you're an indie game developer who has recently launched a high quality game, this is your chance to have your game discovered by industry experts and players worldwide.

This year we will, again, host three competitions for developers from Japan, South Korea, and selected European countries.

Prizes include features on Google Play store, promotional campaigns worth 100,000 EUR, and more.

Introducing Security By Design

Posted by Jon Markoff, Staff Developer Advocate & Sean Smith, Technical Program Manager

Android header graphic

As a developer, are you struggling to figure out when to build security threat protection into your roadmap? Integrating security into your app development lifecycle can save a lot of time, money, and risk. That’s why we’ve launched Security by Design on Google Play Academy to help developers identify, mitigate, and proactively protect against security threats.

The Android ecosystem, including Google Play, has many built-in security features that help protect developers and users. The course Introduction to app security best practices takes these protections one step further by helping you take advantage of additional security features to build into your app. For example, Jetpack Security helps developers properly encrypt their data at rest and provides only safe and well known algorithms for encrypting Files and SharedPreferences. Are you concerned about using Rooted or compromised devices that may allow a bad actor to use your app in a non-sanctioned way? The SafetyNet Attestation API is a solution to help identify potentially dangerous patterns in usage. There are several common design vulnerabilities that are important to look out for, including using shared or improper file storage, using insecure protocols, unprotected components such as Activities, and more. The course also provides methods to test your application, to keep apps safe in the wild after launch. Finally, you can set up a Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDP) to engage security researchers to help.

In the next course, you can learn how to integrate security at every stage of the development process by adopting the Security Development Lifecycle. The SDL is an industry standard process and in this course you’ll learn the fundamentals of setting up a program, getting executive sponsorship and integration into your development lifecycle.

secruity development lifecycle graphic

Threat modeling is part of the Security Development Lifecycle, in this course you will learn to think like an attacker to identify, categorize, and address threats. By doing so early in the design phase of development, you can identify potential threats and start planning for how to mitigate them at much lower cost and create a more secure product for your users.

Secruity design graphic

Improving your app’s security is a never ending process. Sign up for the Security by Design module where in a few short courses, you will learn how to integrate security into your app development lifecycle, model potential threats, and app security best practices into your app, as well as avoid potential design pitfalls.

Android @ Google I/O: 3 things to know in Modern Android Development

Posted by The Modern Android Development Team

This year’s Google I/O brought lots of updates for Modern Android Development. Here are the top 3 things you should know:

#1: Lots of new Jetpack library releases!

In recent months, several Jetpack libraries reached stable, beta or were just launched in alpha. Here are some the highlights:

To find out more about what’s new, check out the What’s new in Jetpack, What’s new in Compose and for a deep dive into Macrobenchmark: Measuring Jank and Startup with Macrobenchmark.

#2: Inspectors in Android Studio

Debugging your application becomes easier with all the inspectors provided by Android Studio Arctic Fox: for background work, like understanding what’s the status of your WorkManager workers, use Background Task Inspector; for UI use Layout Inspector, for both Android Views and Compose; for database debugging use Database Inspector.

To see the inspectors in action, check out What’s new in Android development tools.

#3: New features in Kotlin

We keep improving Kotlin on Android at all levels, from tools to APIs, and giving you different ways to learn. Kotlin Symbol Processing (KSP), now in alpha, provides a simplified compiler plugin API that can run up to 2 times faster than KAPT. Together with JetBrains, we’re addressing performance issues in the IDE and we’re seeing up to 20x faster auto-import suggestions. We added StateFlow support to DataBinding and new APIs for observing Flows in the UI without DataBinding. To learn about all the improvements we’ve made for Kotlin, check out the State of Kotlin on Android talk:

You can find all of this year’s Google I/O talks covering Modern Android Development in this playlist:

Join us for Google for Games Developer Summit 2021

Posted by Greg Hartrell, Head of Product Management, Games on Android & Google Play

Google for Games Dev Summit header

With a surge of new gamers and an increase in time spent playing games in the last year, it’s more important than ever for game developers to delight and engage players. To help developers with this opportunity, the games teams at Google are back to announce the return of the Google for Games Developer Summit 2021 on July 12th-13th.

Hear from experts across Google about new game solutions they’re building to make it easier for you to continue creating great games, connecting with players, and scaling your business. Registration is free and open to all game developers.

Register for the free online event at g.co/gamedevsummit to get more details in the coming weeks. We can’t wait to share our latest innovations with the developer community.

What’s new for Android developers at Google I/O

Cross-posted on the Android Developers blog by Karen Ng, Director, Product Management & Jacob Lehrbaum, Director of Developer Relations, Android & Play

As Android developers, we are all driven by building experiences that delight people around the world. And with people depending on your apps more than ever, expectations are higher and your jobs as developers aren’t getting easier. Today, at Google I/O, we covered a few ways that we’re trying to help out, whether it be through Android 12 - one of the biggest design changes ever, Jetpack, Jetpack Compose, Android Studio, and Kotlin to help you build beautiful high quality apps. We’re also helping when it comes to extending your apps wherever your users go, like through wearables and larger-screened devices. You can watch the full Developer Keynote, but here are a few highlights:

Android 12: one of the biggest design updates ever.

The first Beta of Android 12 just started rolling out, and it’s packed with lots of cool stuff. From new user safety features like permissions for bluetooth and approximate location, enhancements to performance like expedited jobs and start up animations, to delightful experiences with more interactive widgets and stretch overscrolling, this release is one of the biggest design updates to Android ever. You can read more about what’s in Android 12 Beta 1 here, so you can start preparing your apps for the consumer release coming out later this year. Download the Beta and try it with your apps today!

Android 12 visual

Jetpack Compose: get ready for 1.0 in July!

For the last few years, we’ve been hard at work modernizing the Android development experience, listening to your feedback to keep the openness–a hallmark of Android, but becoming more opinionated about the right way to do things. You can see this throughout, from Android Studio, a performant IDE that can keep up with you, to Kotlin, a programming language that enables you to do more with less code, to Jetpack libraries that solve the hardest problems on mobile with backward compatibility.

The next step in this offering is Jetpack Compose - our modern UI toolkit to easily build beautiful apps for all Android devices. We announced Compose here at Google I/O two years ago and since then have been building it in the open, listening to your feedback to make sure we got it right. With the Compose Beta earlier this year, developers around the world have created some truly beautiful, innovative experiences in half the time, and the response to the #AndroidDevChallenge blew our socks off!

With the forthcoming update of Material You (which you can read more about here), we’ll be adding new Material components as well as further support for building for large screens, making it fast and easy to build a gorgeous UI. We’re pressure testing the final bits in Compose and will release 1.0 Stable in July—so get ready!

Android Studio Arctic Fox: Design, Devices, & Developer Productivity!

Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1) Beta, the latest release of the official powerful Android IDE, is out today to help you build quality apps easier and faster. We have delivered and updated the suite of tools to empower three major themes: accelerate your UI design, extend your app to new devices, and boost your developer productivity. With this latest release you can create modern UIs with Compose tooling, see test results across multiple devices, and optimize debugging databases and background tasks with the App Inspector. We’re also making your apps more accessible with the Accessibility Scanner and more performant with Memory Profiler. And for faster build speeds, we have the Android Gradle plugin 7.0, new DSL, and variant APIs. You can learn more about the Android Studio updates here.

Android Studio Arctic Fox

Kotlin: the most used language by professional Android devs

Kotlin is now the most used primary language by professional Android developers according to our recent surveys; in fact, over 1.2M apps in the Play Store use Kotlin, including 80% of the top 1000 apps. And here at Google, we love it too: 70+ Google apps like Drive, Home, Maps and Play use Kotlin. And with a brand-new native solution to annotation processing for Kotlin built from the ground up, Kotlin Symbol Processing is available today, a powerful and yet simple API for parsing Kotlin code directly, showing speeds up to 2x faster with libraries like Room.

Android Jetpack: write features, not boilerplate

With Android Jetpack, we built a suite of libraries to help reduce boilerplate code so you can focus on the code you care about. Over 84% of the top 10,000 apps are now using a Jetpack library. And today, we’re unpacking some new releases for Jetpack, including Jetpack Macrobenchmark (Alpha) to capture large interactions that affect your app startup and jank before your app is released, as well as a new Kotlin Coroutines API for persisting data more efficiently via Jetpack DataStore (Beta). You can read about all the updates in Android Jetpack here.

Now is the time: a big step for Wear

The best thing about modern Android development is that these tools have been purpose built to help make it easy for you to build for the next era of Android, which is all about enabling devices connected to your phone–TVs, cars, watches, tablets–to work better together.

Starting today, we take a huge step forward with wearables. First, we introduced a unified platform built jointly with Samsung, combining the best of Wear and Tizen. Second, we shared a new consumer experience with revamped Google apps. And third, a world-class health and fitness service from Fitbit is coming to the platform. As an Android developer, it means you’ll have more reach, and you’ll be able to use all of your existing skills, tools, and APIs that make your mobile apps great, to build for a single wearables platform used by people all over the world.

Whether it’s new Jetpack APIs for Wear tailored for small screens and designed to optimize battery life, to the Jetpack Tiles API, so you can create a custom Tile for all the devices in the Wear ecosystem, there are a number of new features to help you build on Wear. And with a new set of APIs for Health and Fitness, created in collaboration with Samsung, data collection from sensors and metrics computation is streamlined, consistent, and accurate–like heart rate to calories to daily distance–from one trusted source. All this comes together in new tooling, with the release of Android Studio Arctic Fox Beta, like easier pairing to test apps, and even a virtual heart rate sensor in the emulator. And when your app is ready, users will have a much easier time discovering the world of Wear apps on Google Play, with some big updates to discoverability. You can read more about all of the Wear updates here.

Tapping the momentum of larger screens, like tablets, Chrome OS and foldables

When it comes to larger screens -- tablets, foldables, and Chrome OS laptops-- there is huge momentum. People are increasingly relying on large screen devices to stay connected with family and friends, go to school, or work remotely. In fact, there are over 250 million active large screen Android devices. Last year, Chrome OS grew +92% year over year–5 times the rate of the PC market, making Chrome OS the fastest growing and the second-most popular desktop OS. To help you take advantage of this momentum, we’re giving you APIs and tools to make optimizing that experience easier: like having your content resize automatically to more space by using SlidingpaneLayout 1.2.0 and a new vertical navigation rail component, Max widths on components to avoid stretched UIs, as well as updates to the platform, Chrome OS, and Jetpack windowmanager, so apps work better by default. You can learn more here.

Google Duo's optimized experience for foldable devices

Google Duo's optimized experience for foldable devices

This is just a taste of some of the new ways we’re making it easier for you to build high quality Android apps. Later today, we’ll be releasing more than 20 technical sessions on Android and Play, covering a wide range of topics such as background tasks, privacy, and Machine Learning on Android, or the top 12 tips to get you ready for Android 12. If building for cars, TVs, and wearables is your thing, we got that covered, too. You can find all these sessions - and more - on the I/O website. Beyond the sessions and news, there’s a number of fun ways to virtually connect with Googlers and other developers at this year’s Google I/O. You can check out the Android dome in I/O Adventure, where you can see new blog posts, videos, codelabs, and more. Maybe even test out your Jetpack Compose skills or take a virtual tour of the cars inside our dome!

What’s new in foldables, tablets, and large screens

Posted by Oscar Wahltinez, Developer Relations Engineer, Google

Users are seeing more value in larger screens, and the benefits of doing more with a single device. Apps designed for large screen devices increase those benefits even further.

The ability to fold a screen offers better ergonomics for large devices. When folded, you can fit a tablet-sized screen in your pocket — unlocking utility that was previously unavailable on a portable device. Thinking about our app ecosystem, we’re excited because this is a hardware shift that is driving new expectations around what you can do from a handheld device. We see the demand for larger screens extending to tablets too, which have greatly increased in popularity, given the similar app experience.

Technological breakthroughs and our understanding of ergonomics have played a role in device form factors.

Technological breakthroughs and our understanding of ergonomics have played a role in device form factors.

In this blog post, we'll explain what you should do to prepare your apps for large screens, and how recent updates have made developing your app easier. But first, let’s talk about what we're seeing with large screens — and why you should optimize your app.

Why large screens

There are many ways to use foldable devices, including a number of postures
  illustrated here.

There are many ways to use foldable devices, including a number of postures illustrated here.

Over the past year, we’ve seen device makers release exciting new foldable and tablet devices. Demand has increased as users are doing more than ever from these devices. Altogether, developers can reach more than 250 million active foldables, tablets, and Chromebooks by building for Android large screen devices today. Sales of tablet devices grew 16% in 2020 with analysts expecting more than 400 million Android tablets by 2023, and foldables are redefining what’s possible on premium devices. Android apps can also run on ChromeOS, which is now the second most popular desktop OS.

Large screen ready

Larger screens are changing how users interact with their device. These devices allow you to edit slide decks while looking at notes, look up restaurant recommendations while planning a night out, or watch a video while chatting with friends. Let’s talk about base-level support — features an app must support to be “large screen ready”. There are three main areas of focus when it comes to large screen readiness:

  1. Designing for large screens
  2. Multitasking
  3. Input modes

They’re summarized below, but make sure to check out our large screen app quality guidelines for the full details.

Design for large screens

The first step is to ensure that your app is designed for large screens. To make this easier, we’ve defined specific window size breakpoints and device classes for you to optimize for. Add tablet layouts for displays where the shortest dimension is >600dp, and ensure your apps go edge-to-edge. Developers should also plan for their app to be used in both portrait and landscape modes, since larger screens are more likely to be used in landscape. We’ve got material adaptive components that we’ll be talking about to help developers make better use of the increased space.

Since foldable and large screen devices have a variable window size, adaptive
  layouts work better than splitting experiences based on screen size.

Since foldable and large screen devices have a variable window size, adaptive layouts work better than splitting experiences based on screen size.

Multitasking

Going into split screen (or multi-window mode) and gestures like drag and drop are starting to become natural interactions that users expect to work seamlessly in their large screen devices. Your apps should handle multitasking seamlessly by being resizable. Handling folding and unfolding events and planning for your app to be in multi-window mode prevents your app from becoming letterboxed.

Drag and drop can be a natural interaction in large screen layouts, even within the same
  app.

Drag and drop can be a natural interaction in large screen layouts, even within the same app.

By enabling multiple instance support, users can run multiple copies of your
  app side-by-side. The let’s users compare two products, reference notes
  while writing a document or maybe keeping your calendar in view as you are
  planning an event.

By enabling multiple instance support, users can run multiple copies of your app side-by-side. The let’s users compare two products, reference notes while writing a document or maybe keeping your calendar in view as you are planning an event.

Input modes

Since many people use larger screens for productivity, tablets should support basic keyboard, mouse and stylus usage.

Users of Android apps on ChromeOS devices often have a keyboard; apps should ensure that standard keyboard navigation and shortcuts are available to provide improved accessibility.

Users of Android apps on ChromeOS devices often have a keyboard; apps should ensure that standard keyboard navigation and shortcuts are available to provide improved accessibility.

Component updates

Several UI components across Jetpack and Material Design libraries have been updated to help you build a flexible user experience to scale your phone's UI to a larger screen.

SlidingPaneLayout

One of the most common adaptive layouts to optimize your app for large screens is implementing a list-detail UI. For example, a messaging app that lists messages on one side with the message detail on the other.

SlidingPaneLayout automatically adapts to configuration changes to provide a good user experience across different layout sizes.

SlidingPaneLayout automatically adapts to configuration changes to provide a good user experience across different layout sizes.

UIs that would be one top of each other on a smaller screen can now easily lay out side-by-side. For this, you can use the updated version of the SlidingPaneLayout library — updated to support a two-pane style layout, SlidingPaneLayout uses the width of the two panes to determine how to lay out the UI. It does that by automatically determining if it can lay out side-by-side based on the content width and available space. For example, if the list pane is measured to have a minimum width of 200dp and the detail pane needs 400dp, then the SlidingPaneLayout automatically shows the two panes side by side if it has at least 600dp of width available.

SlidingPaneLayout is used in our sample application IOSched.

SlidingPaneLayout is used in our sample application IOSched.

We have updated the library to recognize and adapt to folds and hinges . For example, if you are on a device with hinges that blocks part of the screen, it will automatically place your content on either side.

We have also introduced lock modes,which allow control over the swipe behavior when panes overlap (programmatically switching is also supported). For example, to prevent users from swiping to an empty pane you may want them to have to click on a list item to load information about that pane, but allow them to swipe back to the list. On a foldable device or tablet that has room to show both views side by side, the lock modes are ignored.

NavRail

A vertical Navigation Rail is functionally equivalent to Bottom navigation, and provides a more ergonomic navigation experience on larger screens. As you scale your UI, NavRail supports better reachability, since larger screens tend to be held by the side, whereas on the phone users are probably holding the device from the bottom.

NavRail automatically changes the location of the navigation menu depending
	on configuration changes.

NavRail automatically changes the location of the navigation menu depending on configuration changes.

For example, NavRail can help if vertical scrolling is key to your app. In those cases, a bottom navigation bar decreases the amount of content that’s visible, especially when tablet devices are being used in landscape orientation.

Other Components

We've also made updates across multiple other components. One of the biggest pitfalls when apps move to a larger screen is when UIs are stretched edge-to-edge across the whole screen. To help prevent this, we’ve added default Max Width values to certain Material Components where this commonly happens, for example:

  • Buttons
  • TextFields
  • Sheets

We will add more components to this list in the future. These changes provide opinionated defaults to help your apps adapt and look better out of the box on large screen devices. Find more information about using size constraints with components in the Material Design guidelines.

Most foreground UI elements should have a maximum width value.

Most foreground UI elements should have a maximum width value.

WindowManager Jetpack library

Beyond component updates to help you scale your UI, we also have the WindowManager Jetpack library to help you build better experiences on these devices. This library is now available in alpha and it provides a common API surface for supporting different device types, starting with foldables and tablets.

You can use WindowManager to detect display features such as folds or hinges. It also gives information about how the display feature affects your app, so you can create an optimal experience. For example, reacting to the foldable device state changes when the device is folded into tabletop mode while the user is watching a video.

Applications should seamlessly adapt to a growing number of device configurations.

Applications should seamlessly adapt to a growing number of device configurations.

WindowManager also provides a couple of convenience methods to retrieve the current and maximum WindowMetrics information in a backward compatible way, starting from API level 14.

Platform changes

Display API deprecations

Your app needs to determine the screen or display size in order to render content appropriately for each device. With the introduction of the WindowMetrics API, a number of methods related to display size have been deprecated. For a backwards-compatible replacement, you should use the Window Manager Jetpack library.

Exclusive resources

Android 10 introduced the possibility to have multiple resumed apps running at the same time, with a single “top resumed” application. Most applications benefit from this change without the need of updates. The most notable exception is if your application uses an exclusive resource like the microphone or the camera. See our previous blog post for more details.

Case studies

Optimizing your app for large screens can improve the experience for your users, as well as deliver on business results. We’re seeing an increased number of apps take advantage of the opportunities with large screens on Google Play. As an example, Google Duo implemented tablet and foldable support to enhance their user experience, and saw an increase in app ratings and user engagement.

Google Duo's optimized experience for foldable devices

Google Duo's optimized experience for foldable devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2

In addition to Google Duo's enhanced user experience, we've modernized many additional apps to use adaptive layouts so they can take advantage of large screens and foldable devices:

  • Chrome added improved tab navigation for larger screens
  • YouTube redesigned its UI to improve usability in foldable devices
  • Google Photos displays more UI elements, like a search bar, in larger screens
  • Google Calendar provides a more ergonomic UI in larger screens


Learn more

To learn more about foldables and large screen devices, see the following resources: