The last edition of Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide was released in October 2019. A lot has changed since then. To help...
Google I/O ’21: The Ranch Round-up
Google I/O just wrapped up, and as usual, Google had plenty of goodies to announce, especially for the development community.
We got a handful of big announcements, such as the reveal of Android 12 and the upcoming Material You design updates, a ton of new privacy and security features, and some flashy demos of new AI efforts – including a conversation with a paper airplane and Pluto (which I’m pretty sure the Google CEO referred to as a “planet” #plutoIsAPlanetConfirmed #googleOfficial)
There were so many announcements and sessions though that it’s easy to miss a lot of the smaller details. I asked a few of my fellow Nerds what things they found interesting at Google I/O this year, and here’s what they had to say:
The sparkly ripple effect!
Just kidding… Having a coroutines debugger in Android Studio now should be pretty useful. With StateFlow gaining in popularity, it’ll hopefully help developers use Lifecycle CoroutineScope launchers more effectively to avoid wasting resources.
You can hear more about the Coroutine Debugger in the “State of Kotlin on Android” session.
I am really interested in the renewed focus on Wear OS. For the last couple of years I was afraid google was going to abandon wearables. To see that they have partnered with Samsung and that both Samsung and the recently acquired Fitbit will be creating watches that run on Wear OS is very encouraging. As someone who always liked the build quality of both brands (and the affordability of many Fitbit watches), but didn’t want to deal with Tizen or Fitbit OS, I am excited to see what comes of these new developments. Spotify even made a guest appearance to say that they are working on allowing Wear OS users to download music for offline play which has been a huge pain point for many. Google nailed it on this one.
I’m interested in the new updates and features added to the Widgets APIs. Supporting rounded corners as a first class citizen, easy access to the systems new dynamic colors to make your widgets “fit in” with the users theme, new native controls (Checkboxes, switches), seamless transitions when entering an app from a widget.
You can learn more about updates on widgets in the “Refreshing widgets” session.
I’m really excited about Flutter enabling null safety by default for new projects. Google seems to be steering the language in the direction of Kotlin, which will hopefully ease developer concerns when jumping into the platform.
I’m also really happy for all the iOS bug fixes. There has been a long history of iOS jank and it looks like, with the Skia allowing for pre-compilation of Metal shaders, that a lot of those performance issues have been fixed. More documentation on those issues here: https://github.com/flutter/flutter/projects/188 and https://github.com/flutter/flutter/issues/79298
I’m very excited to dig into the documentation for adaptive layouts. The big issue on cross-platform technologies is dealing with how layout work across device sizes, as well as the expected behaviors (mouse vs touch, for example): https://flutter.dev/docs/development/ui/layout/building-adaptive-apps
Hey, that’s me!
I’m excited to hear that Jetpack Compose will be released to a stable version in July! Having used it a fair amount recently, I can’t wait for it to be truly production-ready. You can hear more about Compose in sessions like “What’s new in Jetpack Compose”, “Using Jetpack libraries in Compose”, and “Build beautiful Material Design apps with Jetpack Compose”.
I’m also looking forward to the new testing tools and improvements that were announced, especially around making emulators more reliable and useful. You can learn more about testing updates in the “What’s new in Android testing tools” session.
This was just a small sample of a few of the things that we found interesting here at the Ranch. We barely scratched the surface of all the announcements, so check out the Google I/O 2021 playlist if you’re interested in learning even more!