Android Dev Summit: Google details Kotlin, Jetpack, and instant app improvements

Android Dev Summit: Google details Kotlin, Jetpack, and instant app improvements

Google kicked off its Android Developer Summit in Mountain View this week with a bang, and support for foldable devices only scratched the surface. The company announced that many of the new features in Kotlin 1.3 are now natively supported, and it provided updates on Jetpack, Android Studio, instant apps, and more.

Kotlin 1.3

First up was Kotlin, a statically typed programming language from JetBrains that runs on the Java virtual machine. The latest version — 1.3 — was released last week and brings with it a bevy of features:

Inline classes allow you to create a type that doesn’t allocate unless boxed.

Unsigned numbers are now part of the Kotlin standard library, including UInt, UByte, and ULong. These new types are built using inline classes.

Multiplatform code previously written for Android or the JVM can now also target Javascript or native.

Coroutines support is now stable.

All of those have been integrated into Android’s Kotlin-specific APIs, Google said.

Jetpack and Android X

Google revealed Jetpack, a suite of tools and APIs designed to “accelerate” Android app development, at Google I/O 2018 in May, and it’s taken off like a rocket (no pun intended) in the months since. Today, 80 percent of the top 1,000 apps and games have adopted it, according to Google. This week, the company detailed new Architecture Component libraries that promise to make it even more appealing: Navigation, Work Manager, and Slice.

Navigation and Work Manager — both of which are launching in beta this month — offer a simplified way to implement Android’s navigation principle with animated transitions, create and edit navigation flows, and perform background tasks in “the most efficient manner” based on application states, device API level, and other factors.

Android Slices, on the other hand — which were unveiled at Google I/O and this week move to public Search experiments — show mini app snippets containing content and actions, like playing a video or booking a flight. The list of initial partners includes Doist and Kayak, among others.

Android Studio 3.3 beta 3

Android Studio, Google’s official IDE for Android development, got some love during the dev conference’s first keynote. Android Studio 3.3 beta 3 launches today, and it’s focused on stability — specifically  “user-impacting” bugs. The frequency of crashes, hangs, and memory usage have been reduced, and Google said it’s building tools that will “help [developers] easily understand” what’s slowing an app build down.

Also announced: forthcoming support for Chrome OS.

Instant apps

Last, but not least, Google revealed improvements coming to the instant apps. Within Android Studio 3.3, developers can deploy and build instant apps and installed apps from a single Android Studio project and include them in a single Android App bundle.

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