Tag Archives: Stable release

Android Studio 3.6

Posted by Scott Swarthout, Product Manager

Android Studio logo

We are excited to announce the stable release of Android Studio 3.6 with a targeted set of features addressing quality in primarily code editing and debugging use cases. This is our first release after the end of Project Marble, which was focused on making the fundamental features and flows of the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) rock-solid. We learned a lot from Project Marble and in Android Studio 3.6 we introduce a small set of features, polished existing features, and spent a notable effort addressing bugs and improving underlying performance to ensure we meet the high quality bar we set in the past year.

Some highlights of Android Studio 3.6 include a new way to quickly design, develop and preview app layouts using XML, with a new Split View in the design editors. Additionally, you no longer have to manually type in GPS coordinates to test location with your app because we now embedded Google Maps right into the Android Emulator extended control panel. Finally, we’ve made it easier to optimize your app and find bugs with automatic memory leak detection for Fragments and Activities. We hope all of these features help you be happier and more productive while developing on Android.

Thank you to those who gave your early feedback in preview releases. Your feedback helped us iterate and improve features in Android Studio 3.6. If you are ready for the next stable release, and want to use a new set of productivity features, Android Studio 3.6 is ready to download for you to get started.

Below is a full list of new features in Android Studio 3.6, organized by key developer flows.

Design

Split view in design editors

Design editors, such as the Layout Editor and Navigation Editor, now provide a Split view that enables you to see both the Design and Code views of your UI at the same time. Split view replaces and improves upon the earlier Preview window, and can be configured on a file-by-file basis to preserve context information like zoom factor and design view options, so you can choose the view that works best for each use case. To enable split view, click the Split icon in the top-right corner of the editor window. Learn more.

Split view for design editors

Split view for design editors

Color picker resource tab

In this release we wanted to make it easier to apply colors you have defined as color resources. In Android Studio 3.6, the color picker populates the color resources in your app for you to quickly choose and replace color resources values. The color picker is accessible in the design tools as well as in the XML editor.

Color picker resource tab

Color picker resource tab

Develop

View binding

View binding is a feature that allows you to more easily write code that interacts with views by providing compile-time safety when referencing views in your code. When enabled, view binding generates a binding class for each XML layout file present in that module. In most cases, view binding replaces findViewById. You can reference all views that have an ID with no risk of null pointer or class cast exceptions.These differences mean that incompatibilities between your layout and your code will result in your build failing at compile time rather than at runtime. To enable view binding in your project, include the following in each module’s build.gradle file:

android {
    viewBinding.enabled = true
}

For more information, check out this blog post by one of our developer experts.

Android NDK updates

The following Android NDK features in Android Studio, previously supported in Java, are now also supported in Kotlin:

  • Navigate from a JNI declaration to the corresponding implementation function in C/C++. View this mapping by hovering over the C or C++ item marker near the line number in the managed source code file.
  • Automatically create a stub implementation function for a JNI declaration. Define the JNI declaration first and then type “jni” or the method name in the C/C++ file to activate.

Learn more

IntelliJ Platform Update

Android Studio 3.6 includes the IntelliJ 2019.2 platform release. This IntelliJ release includes many improvements from a new services tool window to much improved startup times. Learn more

Add classes with Apply Changes

You can now add a class and then deploy that code change to your running app by clicking either Apply Code Changes or Apply Changes and Restart Activity.

To learn more about the difference between these two actions, see Apply Changes.

Build

Android Gradle Plugin (AGP) updates

Android Gradle plugin 3.6 and higher includes support for the Maven Publish Gradle plugin, which allows you to publish build artifacts to an Apache Maven repository. The Android Gradle plugin creates a component for each build variant artifact in your app or library module that you can use to customize a publication to a Maven repository. This change will make it easier to manage the release lifecycle for your various targets. Learn more

Additionally, Android Gradle plugin has made significant performance improvement for annotation processing/KAPT for large projects. This is caused by AGP now generating R class bytecode directly, instead of .java files.

New packaging tool

The Android build team is continuously working on changes to improve build performance, and in this release we changed the default packaging tool to zipflinger for debug builds. Users should see an improvement in build speed, but you can also revert to using the old packaging tool by setting android.useNewApkCreator=false in your gradle.properties file.

Edit your gradle.properties file to disable the new packaging tool

Edit your gradle.properties file to disable the new packaging tool

Test

Android Emulator - Google Maps UI

Android Emulator 29.2.12 includes a new way for app developers to interface with the emulated device location. We embedded the Google Maps user interface in the extended controls menu to make it easier to specify locations and also to construct routes from pairs of locations. Individual points can be saved and re-sent to the device as the virtual location, while routes can be generated through typing in addresses or clicking two points. These routes can be replayed in real time as locations along the route are sent to the guest OS.

Android Emulator location UI with real-time location streaming

Android Emulator location UI with real-time location streaming

Multi-display support

Emulator 29.1.10 includes preliminary support for multiple virtual displays. As more devices are available that have multiple displays, it is important to test your app on a variety of multi-display configurations. Users can configure multiple displays through the settings menu (Extended Controls > Settings).

Multi-display support in Android Emulator

Multi-display support in Android Emulator

Configure secondary displays in the Android Emulator Extended Controls Panel

Configure secondary displays in the Android Emulator Extended Controls Panel

Resumable SDK downloads

When downloading Android SDK components and tools using the Android Studio SDK Manager, Android Studio now allows you to resume downloads that were interrupted (for example, due to a network issue) instead of restarting the download from the beginning. This enhancement is especially helpful for large downloads, such as the Android Emulator or system images, when internet connectivity is unreliable.

Pause and resume SDK downloads

Pause and resume SDK downloads

In-place updates for imported APKs

Android Studio allows you to import externally-built APKs to debug and profile them. Previously, when changes to those APKs were made, you would have to manually import them again and reattach symbols and sources. Android Studio 3.6 now automatically detects changes made to the imported APK file and gives you an option to re-import it in-place.

Attach Kotlin sources to imported APKs

We added support for attaching Kotlin source files to imported APKs. To learn more, see Attach Kotlin/Java sources.

Attach Kotlin/Java sources to imported APKs

Attach Kotlin/Java sources to imported APKs

Optimize

Leak detection in Memory Profiler

Based on your feedback, we’ve added in the Memory Profiler the ability to detect Activity and Fragment instances which may have leaked. To get started, capture or import a heap dump file in the Memory Profiler, and check the Activity/Fragment Leaks checkbox to generate the results. For more information on how Android Studio detects leaks, please see our documentation.

Detect leaked Activities and Fragments in the Memory Profiler

Detect leaked Activities and Fragments in the Memory Profiler

Deobfuscate class and method bytecode in APK Analyzer

When using the APK Analyzer to inspect DEX files, you can now deobfuscate class and method bytecode. While in the DEX file viewer, load the ProGuard mappings file for the APK you’re analyzing. When loaded, you will be able to right-click on the class or method you want to inspect by selecting Show bytecode. Learn more

Deobfuscate class and method bytecode by selecting Show Bytecode in the APK Analyzer

Deobfuscate class and method bytecode by selecting Show Bytecode in the APK Analyzer

To recap, Android Studio 3.6 includes these new enhancements & features:

Design

  • Split View in Design Editors
  • Color Picker Resource Tab

Develop

  • View binding
  • Android NDK support updates
  • IntelliJ Platform Update
  • Add classes with Apply Changes

Build

  • Android Gradle Plugin (AGP) Updates
  • New packaging tool

Test

  • Android Emulator Google Maps UI
  • Multi-display support
  • Resumable SDK downloads
  • In-place updates for imported APKs

Optimize

  • Leak detection in Memory Profiler
  • Deobfuscate class and method bytecode in APK Analyzer
  • Attach Kotlin sources to imported APKs

Getting Started

Download

Download Android Studio 3.6 from the download page. If you are using a previous release of Android Studio, you can simply update to the latest version of Android Studio. To use the mentioned Android Emulator features make sure you are running at least Android Emulator v29.2.12 downloaded via the Android Studio SDK Manager.

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

Flutter 1.0: Google’s Portable UI Toolkit

Posted by Tim Sneath, Group Product Manager for Flutter

Today, at Flutter Live, we're announcing Flutter 1.0, the first stable release of Google's UI toolkit for creating beautiful, native experiences for iOS and Android from a single codebase.

Cross-platform mobile development today is full of compromise. Developers are forced to choose between either building the same app multiple times for multiple operating systems, or to accept a lowest common denominator solution that trades native speed and accuracy for portability. With Flutter, we believe we have a solution that gives you the best of both worlds: hardware-accelerated graphics and UI, powered by native ARM code, targeting both popular mobile operating systems.

Introducing Flutter

Flutter doesn't replace the traditional Apple and Android app models for building mobile apps; instead, it's an app engine that you can either embed into an existing app or use for an entirely new app.

We think of the characteristics of Flutter along four dimensions:

  1. Flutter enables you to build beautiful apps. We want to enable designers to deliver their full creative vision without being forced to water it down due to limitations of the underlying framework. Flutter lets you control every pixel on the screen, and its powerful compositing capabilities let you overlay and animate graphics, video, text and controls without limitation. Flutter includes a full set of widgets that deliver pixel-perfect experiences on both iOS and Android. And it enables the ultimate realization of Material Design, Google's open design system for digital experiences.
  2. Flutter is fast. It's powered by the same hardware-accelerated Skia 2D graphics engine that underpins Chrome and Android. We architected Flutter to be able to support glitch-free, jank-free graphics at the native speed of your device. Flutter code is powered by the world-class Dart platform, which enables compilation to native 32-bit and 64-bit ARM code for iOS and Android.
  3. Flutter is productive. Flutter introduces stateful hot reload, a revolutionary new capability for mobile developers and designers to iterate on their apps in real time. With stateful hot reload, you can make changes to the code of your app and see the results instantly without restarting your app or losing its state. Stateful hot reload transforms the way developers build an app -- and in user surveys, developers say it makes their development cycle three times more productive.
  4. Lastly, Flutter is open. Flutter is an open source project with a BSD-style license, and includes the contributions of hundreds of developers from around the world. In addition, there's a vibrant ecosystem of thousands of plug-ins. And because every Flutter app is a native app that uses the standard Android and iOS build tools, you can access everything from the underlying operating system, including code and UI written in Kotlin or Java on Android, and Swift or Objective-C on iOS.

Put this all together, combine it with best-in-class tooling for Visual Studio Code, Android Studio, IntelliJ or the programmer's editor of your choice, and you have Flutter -- a development environment for building beautiful native experiences for iOS or Android from a single codebase.

Flutter Growth and Momentum

We announced the first beta of Flutter at Mobile World Congress ten months ago, and we've been excited to see how quickly it has been adopted by the broader community, as evidenced by the thousands of Flutter apps that are already published to the Apple and Google Play stores even before our 1.0 release. It's clear that developers are ready for a new approach to UI development.

Internally, Flutter is being used at Google for a wide array of products, with Google Ads already having switched to Flutter for their iOS and Android app. And even before 1.0, a wide range of global customers including Abbey Road Studios, Alibaba, Capital One, Groupon, Hamilton, JD.com, Philips Hue, Reflectly, and Tencent are developing or shipping apps with Flutter.

Michael Jones, Senior Director of Engineering from the Capital One team, says the following about their experiences with Flutter:

"We are excited by Flutter's unique take on high-performing cross-platform development. Our engineers have appreciated the rapid development promise and hot reload capabilities, and over the past year we have seen tremendous progress in the framework and especially the native integration story.

"Flutter can allow Capital One to think of features not in an 'iOS or Android-first' fashion, but rather in a true mobile-first model. We are excited to see Flutter 1.0 and continue to be impressed with the pace of advancement and the excitement in the engineering community."

At the Flutter Live event today, the popular payment service Square announced two new Flutter SDKs that make it easy to accept payments for goods and services with Flutter, whether in-person using a Square payment reader or by taking payments inside a mobile app. Square demonstrated an example of using their payments SDK using an app from Collins Family Orchards, a family farm that grows and sells fruit in farmers markets around the Pacific Northwest.

The developer of the Collins Family Orchards app, Dean Papastrat, had this to say about his experience:

"I was blown away by the speed of all the animations and transitions in production builds. As a web developer, it was super easy to make the transition to Flutter, and I can't believe I was able to build a fully working app that can take payments in just a week."

Also at Flutter Live, 2Dimensions announced the immediate availability of Flare, a remarkable new tool for designers to create vector animations that can be embedded directly into a Flutter app and manipulated with code. Flare eliminates the need to design in one app, animate in another, then convert all of that to device-specific assets and code.

Animations built with Flare can be embedded into an existing Flutter app as a widget, allowing them to participate in the full compositor and be overlaid with other text, graphical layers or even UI widgets. Integrating in this way frees animations from the 'black box' limitations of other architectures, and allows ongoing collaboration between designers and developers right up to the completion of the app. Such tight integration between Flutter and Flare provides a uniquely compelling offering for digital designers and animators who want to create highly-polished mobile experiences.

Another partner who has bet on Flutter is Nevercode, a fast-growing provider of continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) tooling for mobile apps. At Flutter Live, they announced Codemagic, a new tool designed specifically for Flutter to make it easy to automate the process of building and packaging Flutter apps for both Android and iOS from a single automation. Available today in beta, Codemagic allows you to select a GitHub repo containing a Flutter project, and with just a few clicks, create continuous build flows that run tests, and generate binary app bundles that you can upload to the Apple and Google Play stores.

We put together a short video to highlight the range and variety of the apps developers have been building with Flutter since the beta:

New Features in Flutter 1.0

Since the first beta, we've been working to add features and polish to Flutter. In particular, we rounded out our support for pixel-perfect iOS apps with new widgets; added support for nearly twenty different Firebase services; and worked on improving performance and reducing the size of Flutter apps. We've also closed out thousands of issues based on feedback from the community.

Flutter also includes the latest version of the Dart platform, 2.1, an update to Dart 2 that offers smaller code size, faster type checks, and better usability for type errors. Dart 2.1 also has new language features to improve productivity when building user experiences. Developers who have already adopted Dart 2.1 tell us they're seeing significant speed improvements just by switching to the latest engine:

While the primary focus of the 1.0 release is bug fixes and stabilization, we're also introducing previews of two major new features for developers to try out in preview mode that we anticipate will ship in our next quarterly release in February 2019: Add to App and platform views.

Add to App

When we first built Flutter, we focused on productivity for the scenario where someone is building a new application from scratch. But of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to start with a clean slate. Talking to some of our larger customers, it was clear that they wanted to use Flutter for new user journeys or features within an existing application, or to convert their existing application to Flutter in stages.

The architecture of Flutter supports this model well: after all, every Flutter app includes a host Android and iOS container. But we've been working to make it easier to incrementally adopt Flutter by updating our templates, tooling and guidance for existing apps. We've made it easier to share assets between Flutter and host code. And we've also reworked the tooling to make it easy to attach to an existing Flutter process without launching the debugger with the application.

We will continue to work to make this experience even better. Even though a number of customers are already using our guidance on Add to App successfully, we're continuing to add samples and expand support for complex scenarios. In the meantime, our instructions for adding Flutter to existing apps are on our wiki, and you can track the remaining work on the GitHub project board.

Platform Views

While Add To App is useful as a way to gradually introduce Flutter to an existing application, sometimes it's useful to go the other way round and embed an Android or iPhone platform control in a Flutter app.

So we've introduced platform view widgets (AndroidView and UiKitView) that let you embed this kind of content on each platform. We've been previewing Android support for a couple of months, but now we're expanding support to iOS, and starting to add plug-ins like Google Maps and WebView that take advantage of this.

Like other components, our platform view widgets participate in the composition model, which means that you can integrate it with other Flutter content. For example, in the screenshot above, the floating action button in the bottom right corner is a Flutter widget that has background color with 50% alpha. This demonstrates the unique architectural advantages of Flutter well.

While this work is ready for developers to try out, we're continuing to work on improving performance and device compatibility, so we recommend caution if deploying apps that depend on PlatformViews. We're continuing to actively optimize platform views and expect them to be ready for production in time for our next quarterly update.

Flutter Beyond Mobile

The primary target for Flutter has so far been iOS and Android. Yet our ambitions for Flutter extend beyond mobile to a broader set of platforms. Indeed, from the outset Flutter was architected as a portable UI toolkit that is flexible enough to go wherever pixels are painted.

Some of this work has already been taking place in the open. Flutter Desktop Embedding is an early-stage project that brings Flutter to desktop operating systems including Windows, MacOS, and Linux. We also recently published informal details of using Flutter on Raspberry Pi, as a way to demonstrate Flutter embedding support to smaller-scale devices that may not include a full desktop environment.

This week, at Flutter Live, we gave the first sneak peek of an experimental project we're working on in the labs that significantly expands where Flutter can run.

Hummingbird is a web-based implementation of the Flutter runtime that takes advantage of the capability of the Dart platform to compile not just to native ARM code but also to JavaScript. This enables Flutter code to run on the standards-based web without change.

We have a separate blog article on Medium that describes the technical implementation details of Hummingbird. And we'll have a lot more to share on Hummingbird at Google I/O in 2019: hope to see you there!

Of course, mobile remains our immediate priority, and you can expect to see the bulk of our investment in these core mobile scenarios over the coming months.

Conclusion

With the release of Flutter 1.0, we've established a new 'stable' channel, in addition to the existing beta, dev, and master channels. The stable channel updates less often than other channels, but we have a higher confidence in its quality since builds have already been vetted through the other channels. We anticipate that we'll update our stable channel on a quarterly basis with our most battle-tested builds.

You can download Flutter 1.0 from our website at https://flutter.io, where you can also find documentation for developers transitioning from other frameworks, code labs, a cookbook of common samples, and technical videos.

We owe a particular debt to the early adopters who have joined us on the journey so far, providing feedback, identifying issues, creating content, and generally shaping the product. The Flutter community is one of our greatest assets as a project: a welcoming, diverse, helpful group of individuals who volunteer selflessly because they also care about this open source project. Thank you!

Flutter is ready for you. What will you build?