At long last, Android Studio 3.6 is finally here!
A part of Google’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android app development, version 3.6 comes after an extended period of rigorous bug fixing and other refinements. The change has been for the better with the upgrade now moving toward higher stability and finer performance.
A major release since Project Marble, the latest Android Studio comes with new features as well as revamped old ones. Releasing it for developers, Google now shows them a smoother route to editing and debugging codes. Needless to say, quality has been the sole focus of this entire attempt for improvement.
What’s New in Android Studio 3.6?
The new release includes a variety of new features and improvements. Let’s take a look at the key features of Android Studio 3.6.
Design Editors with Split View
There’s a new Split View meant for the Layout and Navigation Editors! This means developers will now be able to get a glimpse of the UI design and code views together on the same screen. The old Preview window has been replaced with this new feature.
Most importantly, Android app developers would now be able to configure Split View according to the files and even store contextual information according to what befits each use case. Such information includes the likes of zoom factor and design view options. Split View can be enabled by clicking ‘Split’ on the editor window.
Google Maps UI in Android Emulator
Yes, Android Emulator 29.2.12 now comes with Google Maps integrated right into its control panel. This means developers don’t need to type in GPS coordinates manually to put location features in apps to test. That’s an easier way to see the location of the emulated device.
Further, developers would be able to distinguish virtual locations and even generate virtual routes from location pairs. With this improvement, app optimization is going to be way easier than what it was before. Also, finding bugs and detecting memory leaks for Fragments and Activities is going to be a plain sailing.
Resources Tab in Color Picker
This addition in Android Studio 3.6 allows developers to choose, edit, and apply colors they have defined as color resources by surfacing them.
The color picker fills in the color resources in the application. Developers can then select and replace the values of the color resources. This feature is accessible both in the design tools and XML editor.
Support for Multiple Virtual Displays
Preliminary support has been extended in Emulator 29.1.10 for multi-display support. This would help developers build apps for devices that have multiple displays enabled on them.
Multiple virtual displays in Android Studio 3.6 Emulator can be configured via Settings (Extended Controls > Settings).
This new addition will allow developers to effortlessly write codes that can interact with views via compile-time safety when developers reference them in codes. This is being done to prevent incompatibilities between XML layout files and codes that could cause builds to fail at runtime.
With View Binding, developers can add single lines to the build.gradle file in each module. This will create a binding class for every XML layout file. This new feature replaces the old findViewById, thus enabling developers to reference views without running into class cast exceptions or null pointer.
Two Android NDK features that were earlier supported in Java now have Kotlin support, too. Developers can navigate from JNI declaration to the complementing implementation function in C/C++. Meanwhile, a stub implementation function can be created automatically for JNI declaration.
Updated IntelliJ Platform
Google has updated IntelliJ 2019.2 platform with a number of improvements. Major changes include a novel services tool window and revamped startup times.
Updated Android Gradle Plugin
AGP or Android Gradle Plugin 3.6 will now support the Maven Publish Gradle plugin. The latter helps developers in publishing build artifacts to the Apache Maven repository. With the AGP, a component would be created for each build variant artifact, which can be used to customize publishing to the repository.
Google has also made other significant improvements regarding performance of the AGP. These improvements involve annotation processing/KAPT for large-size projects. Android Gradle Plugin 3.6 now directly creates R class bytecode and not .java files.
Apply Changes to Add Classes
Click on ‘Apply Code Changes’ or ‘Apply Changes and Restart Activity’ to start adding a class and then deploying the code changes to running applications.
In-Place Updates for Imported APKs
Android Studio 3.6 can automatically detect the changes developers make in imported APKs, thus allowing them to re-import the same in-place without having to reattach sources and symbols.
Earlier, these tasks had to be manually done. With the latest updates, developers can save time in these tasks. Also, the new version supports Kotlin source file attachments to imported APKs.
A Brand New Packaging Tool
Android Studio’s default packaging tool is now changed to zipflinger to support debug builds. Improvements should be noticeable in build speed. Developers can also go back to using the old default tool if needed.
Memory Profiler Leak Detection
The latest version of Android Studio has newer capabilities for the Memory Profiler. It can now detect leaked Activity and Fragment instances.
Start by capturing or importing a heap dump file in the Memory Profiler and look for the Activity/Fragment Leaks checkbox for results.
Updated APK Analyzer
Google has powered up the APK Analyzer with Deobfuscate class and method bytecode. Developers would be able to use it when inspecting DEX files by loading the ProGuard mappings file. Once it is loaded, they can simply right-click on the class or method and inspect it by choosing Show bytecode.
SDK Downloads that can be Resumed
Downloading Android SDK components with the SDK Manager in version 3.6 is more convenient as it allows developers to resume stopped or interrupted downloads instead restarting them.
Are You Excited?
Android Studio 3.6 comes shortly after Google’s Android 11 Developer Preview 1 launch. Developers can now expect novel and quicker ways to design, develop, and preview application layouts with the help of XML.
The stable release is available for download in Android Studio as well as on Google’s website. You can download it for Windows, Mac, as well as Linux. Until Android Studio 4.0 arrives with Jetpack libraries carrying CameraX and Compose, let’s celebrate this update.