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Google Updates New Streaming Apps SDK

Google has updated the SDK for its Android streaming apps project -- called Instant Apps -- that it introduced this year, providing a way to bypass the traditional installation process.

Google started testing the Instant Apps project in January and in May opened it up to all developers.

Now those developers can take advantage of new features in the first update of the SDK, Instant Apps SDK 1.1.

"Today, we're excited to announce availability of the Android Instant Apps SDK 1.1 with some highly-requested features such as improved NDK support, configuration APKs for binary size reduction, and a new API to maintain user's context when they transition from an instant app to the installed app," the company said in a blog post last week.

Instant Apps provides a way to ship just the parts of an app that are applicable to a specific device, triggered by a URL. Developers set up two versions of an app -- the instant version and a version installed in the Google Play store -- and when the store receives a URL that matches an installed app, it sends along the code and files necessary to run the app. Device owners can use the app just as if it were installed on the device.

Among the new features announced in SDK 1.1 is configuration APKs (installable app files), which let developers isolate device-specific resources and native libraries into smaller, independent APKs that contain only the resources and native libraries needed by the device. This shrinks the size of the streamed APK.

Even though configuration APKs now only work for display density, CPU architecture (ABI), and language, Google said it has seen 10 percent size reductions in loaded binaries.

Another new feature is expanded persistent user context after installation, which means the internal storage of an Instant App is available to the installed version. That functionality, previously limited to only the brand-new Android Oreo, it's now being provided for older versions, including Lollipop, Marshmallow and Nougat devices.

Also, as Google mentioned, the new SDK has improved support for NDK, a toolset that lets developers implement parts of an app in native code, using programming languages such as C and C++.

More information is available in the release notes, along with code samples and documentation.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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