Google IO 2016 was packed with a great load of goodies for both developers and consumers. It included a log of new stuff along with the much required updates to various services and products. Are you a developer? Then, there is a lot of stuff to grab your attention.
Starting with Android, Google announced the launch of the beta preview of its upcoming version of the OS, Android N. The beta can be downloaded at the developers website of android and you can start testing your apps right now. The factory images for the supported Nexus devices will also be live soon. Wait, the preview has something more.
Google has borrowed a much-awaited feature from its own Chrome OS, Seamless Updates. Starting from Android N, users can update their OS in the background and so each time the phone restarts, it boots up with a new modified system image. This feature might be the Google’s answer to the OS fragmentation. It’s not long to see the majority of Android phone running the latest version of the OS as seen in Apple’s iOS.
Another feature to be excited about is the VR mode. The update brings performance improvements to render videos and uses smooth head-tracking, stereo notifications, and low latency graphics to make it easy for developers to incorporate VR into their apps.
Google says the team “worked at all levels of the Android stack in N — from how the operating system reads sensor data to how it sends pixels to the display — to make it especially built to provide high quality mobile VR experiences.”
Android Studio 2.2
Studio comes with a new Layout Editor and Inspector, Firebase Plugin, Test Recorder, APK Analyzer and more. The update is aimed at upcoming markets to showcase their innovative ideas. The Layout editor lets you drag and drop widgets from the palette to the design surface or the component tree view of your app and offers a blueprint mode to inspect the spacing and arrangement of your layout, a Properties panel for quick widget edits, and an UI builder for editing menu and system preference files.
The layout manager allows you to create dynamic user interfaces without nesting multiple layouts. Google also updates firebase with a lot more features and all of them are coming to Android right away with an updated plugin in Android Studio. If you’re using the Android NDK to compile code in other languages to Android other than Java, you can now build CMake and NDK-Build Android app projects by pointing Gradle at your existing build files.
Java support has improved in the IDE, enabling to port existing apps to Java 8. Testing is taken to the next level, with Espresso tests and recording and playback locally or even in Firebase Test Lab.
The concept behind instant apps is that the users need not download the entire app to their device. Instead, they have only the necessary bits on their phone ans then the user visits a URL to open the app. This reduces huge package installations on the device, especially of rarely used apps.
“It’s the same Android APIs, the same source code, the same project,” -Android Instant Apps product management director
Instant apps work from Android Jelly Bean and up, saving a lot of space in the phone of existing users [Lookout feature for users]. Instant Apps are also compatible with Android app links, that makes existing links to launch Instant Apps.
Tensor Processing Units
Google also announced the launch of the processing units that power the Alpha Go, the AI-powered Go player which bet the top-ranked human player recently. Named tensor processing units (TPUs), these units are aimed to enable developers to use the Google’s hardware stack to work on TensorFlow and Cloud Machine Learning projects.
These processors also work inside the Google epic Search Engine and Google’s Street View.
Google also updates its Play Store with features like App Discovery and Beta Tests, Early Access to Apps, App Collections, Pre-Launch Report, App’s Rating Distribution, Reviews API, Round prices for local conventions, User Acquisition performance report, Local Apps section and Faster Compression for Updates.
The Firebase team has put forth a completely revamped platform, that not only serves as a backend for apps but become a complete app solution. The new website explains it all beautifully.
Features include Firebase Analytics, AdWords and AdMob integration, App Indexing, Remote Config, Crash Reporting, Cloud Messaging, Test Lab, and Firebase Storage. Earlier this year, Parse was discontinued by Facebook and now Google is trying to fill that space with Firebase. With all the features that are included, it definitely is a good choice for developers.
Firebase now also incorporates Test Lab which is the result of Google’s acquisition of Appurify. There are new APIs for Google Slides, Sheets and Google Classroom Coursework making them more accessible to the users.
Well, this year is big for Google as it aims to increase Android adoptions, VR platform and even Firebase.