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Android Studio Gets C/C++ Functionality

At its big I/O conference, Google today introduced the Android Studio 1.3 Preview so mobile developers can begin to play with the new features coming in M, the next version of the Android OS.

The new edition of the Android Studio IDE -- which supplanted the Eclipse ADT tool as the officially backed IDE for Android development -- includes several improvements, but Google highlighted new C/C++ functionality.

"Most notable is a much-requested feature from our Android NDK [Native Development Kit] and game developers: code editing and debugging for C/C++ code," the company said in a post today on the Google Developer Blog. "Based on JetBrains Clion platform, the Android Studio NDK plugin provides features such as refactoring and code completion for C/C++ code alongside your Java code. Java and C/C++ code support is integrated into one development experience free of charge for Android app developers."

The company said developers need the new IDE to explore new features in M, which is getting a host of updates to improve the core user experience in areas such as permissions, links between apps and even battery life, in addition to a lot of bug fixes.

The M OS is also going to provide better user assistance with everyday tasks through Google Now on tap. "We are making it even easier for Android users to get assistance with Now on tap -- whenever they need it, wherever they are on their device," Google said. "For example, if your friend texts you about dinner at a new restaurant, without leaving the app, you can ask Google Now for help. Using just that context, Google can find menus, reviews, help you book a table, navigate there, and deep link you into relevant apps. As a developer, you can implement App Indexing for Google search to let users discover and re-engage with your app through Now on tap."

Android Studio 1.3 with Android NDK Support
[Click on image for larger view.] Android Studio 1.3 with Android NDK Support (source: Google)

Also, Google said, M will feature Android Pay for safe purchasing, with further security provided by native fingerprint support that will let users confirm a transaction by pressing their finger on a sensor.

In addition to the preview of Android Studio, Google announced an Android Design Support library to help developers and designers follow the company's Material design guidelines. If features backward-compatible design components -- such as a floating action button, snackbar, navigation view and motion-enabled toolbars -- to decrease UI coding.

The company's Google Play Services was also updated to version 7.5, featuring Smart Lock for Passwords, new APIs to work with Google Cloud Messaging and Google Cast, Google Map APIs for its wearables and more.

Google listed the following steps to get started with the M Developer Preview:

  1. Update to Android Studio v1.3+ Preview.
  2. Visit the M Developer Preview site for downloads and documentation.
  3. Explore the new APIs and App Permissions changes.
  4. Explore the Android Design Support Library and Google Play Services APIs.
  5. Get the emulator system images through the SDK Manager or download the Nexus device system images.
  6. Test your app with your supported Nexus device or emulator.
  7. Give us feedback.

"The M Developer Preview includes an updated SDK with tools, system images for testing on the official Android emulator, and system images for testing on Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player devices," Google said. "We are excited to expand the program and give you more time to ensure your apps support M when it launches this fall. Based on your feedback, we plan to update the M Developer preview system images often during the developer preview program. The sooner we hear from you, the more feedback we can integrate, so let us know!"

Developers can provide feedback and submit bugs here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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