Instant Run, Faster Emulator Lead New Android Studio 2.0 Final Release
Google's go-to IDE for developing Android mobile apps has officially hit version 2.0, with enhancements such as Instant Run and a faster device emulator leading a host of new features.
Having usurped Eclipse as Google's official IDE, Android Studio 2.0 includes all the tools needed to build mobile apps, including a code editor, code analysis tools, emulators and so on.
The notoriously slow emulator -- the cause of widespread developer angst for years (here's a big current discussion of it on Hacker News) -- is likely to be especially welcomed by Android coders.
"The new emulator runs [about] 3x faster than Android's previous emulator, and with ADB [Android Debug Bridge] enhancements you can now push apps and data 10x faster to the emulator than to a physical device," Jamal Eason said in a blog post yesterday announcing Android Studio 2.0. "Like a physical device, the official Android emulator also includes Google Play Services built-in, so you can test out more API functionality. Finally, the new emulator has rich new features to manage calls, battery, network, GPS and more."
First previewed last November, Android Studio 2.0 also boasts Instant Run functionality that should quicken workflows "for every developer who loves faster build speeds," Eason said.
"Make changes and see them appear live in your running app," Eason said. "With many build/run accelerations ranging from VM hot swapping to warm swapping app resources, Instant Run will save you time every day."
The new feature works by providing a new Instant Run button that, when pressed, immediately detects any code changes and figures out the quickest way to deploy the revised code.
"Whenever possible, it will inject your code changes into your running app process, avoiding re-deployment and re-installation your APK," Eason said. "For some types of changes, an activity or app restart is required, but your edit, build and run cycles should still be generally much faster than before. Instant Run works with any Android Device or emulator running API 14 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher."
Other new features include cloud test integration with the Cloud Test Lab; app indexing code generation said to increase Google Search visibility; and a GPU debugger preview. The latter is for coders building apps or games based on OpenGL for Embedded Systems technology, for rendering graphics. With the new debugging functionality, developers can see each rendered frame along with the GL state. That, Eason said, helps coders discover and diagnosis GL rendering problems.
The upgraded IDE also benefits from improvements to its underlying technology, the IntelliJ coding platform. Its creator, JetBrains, said enhancements to its platform touch on its debugger, version control functionality, the code editor, search, the Gradle automated build tool and more.
"Android Studio is built in coordination with the Android platform and supports all of the latest and greatest APIs," Eason said. "If you are developing for Android, you should be using Android Studio 2.0. It is available today as an easy download or update on the stable release channel."
David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.