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After Oreo, Developer Preview of Android P Arrives

Let the candy nickname speculation begin: Android P has arrived in the form of an early developer preview, less than seven months after Android Oreo (8.0) shipped.

Android P Developer Preview is now available to give coders an opportunity to put it through its paces, test features and provide feedback to Google.

Touting simplicity, speed and numerous ways to extend apps, Google provided the following high-level view of what's new in the OS:

  • An enhanced messaging/notifications experience
  • ImageDecoder to provide a modernized approach for decoding bitmaps and drawable images
  • An improved JobScheduler to better handle network-related jobs with data cost sensitivity, which means jobs can declare their estimated data size, signal prefetching and specify detailed network requirements
  • Display cutout support: The new DisplayCutout class helps developers discover the location and shape of non-functional areas where content shouldn't be displayed
  • Multi-camera APIs, providing access to simultaneous streams from two or more physical cameras, and more

Beyond those high-level highlights, there are dozens of other new features and enhancements, ranging from security improvements to accessibility to a new Neural Networks API (introduced in Android 8.1) to accelerate on-device machine learning on Android.

The P Developer Preview runs from March 7 until the final Android P public release, planned for Q3 2018
[Click on image for larger view.] The Android P Developer Preview runs from March 7 until the final public release, planned for Q3 2018 (source: Google)

One area of interest to developers is likely to be Kotlin, the programming language that last year was vaulted into first-class status by Google, along with Java, quickly gaining favor among Android's core development team along with the general Android dev community.

"Kotlin is a first-class language on Android, and if you haven't tried it yet, you should!" said Google's Dave Burke, VP of Engineering, in an announcement post yesterday (March 7).

"We've made an enduring commitment to Kotlin in Android and continue to expand support including optimizing the performance of Kotlin code," Burke said. "In P you'll see the first results of this work -- we've improved several compiler optimizations, especially those that target loops, to extract better performance. We're also continuing to work in partnership with JetBrains to optimize Kotlin's generated code. You can get all of the latest Kotlin performance improvements just by keeping Android Studio's Kotlin plugin up-to-date."

In a video, Dan Galpin, developer advocate at Google, provided more information on Kotlin.

"Kotlin is seeing massive growth in the developer community," Galpin said. "We have heard so much Kotlin love from developers and we are deepening our Kotlin investments. In P you'll see ... new optimizations in ART. Apps written with Kotlin will run faster on P than on previous versions of Android. We're continuing to work with JetBrains to optimize the Kotlin compiler and we're also improving our brand-new D8 dexer to make sure generated code from Kotlin can run as fast as possible. Also, make sure to check out our ongoing preview of android KTX, which is a set of extensions designed to make android Kotlin development even more concise and pleasant."

Developers can find a download and instructions here, while feedback guidance can be found here.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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