Through each new surprise and challenge of 2020, the Android development community continues to move forward. Whether it be new tools and libraries, updates to Kotlin, or the developer community adapting to a new normal; there’s been plenty to catch up on in the world of Android development.
What new development tools, libraries, or updates are you excited about?
We’ve now seen the official release of Android 11, bringing with it improved security, improved apis, and new features.
- 5G support
- Chat bubbles and other conversation improvements
- Improved support for waterfall or foldable displays
- Privacy changes
Updated Target API Requirements
The Android 11 release is accompanied by SDK version 30.
Along with this new target SDK version come updates to the Google Play target api requirements.
Starting in August, new apps submitted to Google Play have been required to target Android 10 (api 29). App updates will be required to target Android 10 starting in November 2020.
If you, our your team, haven’t targeting Android 10 yet, now is a good time to start looking at the Android 10 migration guide to ensure you can continue to update your app.
Android Studio 4.0
This year has brought us the stable release of Android Studio 4.0 with 4.1 and 4.2 in active development.
The 4.0 release included several features developers were quite excited for:
- Improved support for Kotlin DSL script files
- Motion Editor support
- Build analyzer
- Android Live Templates for Kotlin
You can find the latest stable version of Android Studio here.
Android Jetpack continues to evolve; faster than really anyone can keep up with. This is generally good news for developers as it means we have more, and better, tools available to us. The trick is often knowing which updates are important to you or your project.
A few of the most interesting updates to Android Jetpack include:
- Jetpack Compose keeps moving along and has officially reached its first alpha release. Jetpack Compose promises a dramatic overhaul of how Android UI is built, and understandably developers are excited. As a Kotlin-first, declarative api for build user interfaces, Jetpack Compose looks to be an exciting step forward into modern application development. If you want to start learning more about Jetpack Compose, check out the getting starting tutorial. It’s worth noting, that while Jetpack Compose is improving rapidly, it’s still not stable and any devs should be hesitant to ship it in production in it’s current state.
- ConstraintLayout 2.0.0 finally reached a stable release.
- WorkManager 2.4.0 brought support for RxJava3 and numerous other improvements
- Navigation 2.3 included support for feature modules and a new test artifact to assist in testing your nav graphs
The Kotlin programming language and ecosystem has also seen some exciting changes in 2020.
Kotlin saw a new major milestone release with 1.4. This release included many improvements including
- trailing comma support
- SAM conversions for interfaces
- Improvements to the coroutines debugger
- Several quality of life improvements for Kotlin Multiplatform projects
Speaking of Kotlin Multiplatform, there has been a big push specifically for Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile. This initiative focuses specifically on the Kotlin Multiplatform story for Android and iOS and includes additional documentation, samples, and support for building mobile apps using Kotlin.
Ktor, Jetbrains’ framework for building asynchronous client/server applications in Kotlin, has received a major documentation and samples upgrade. This should go a long way towards making it easier to start writing Ktor applications.
How has the Android developer community been adapting to a remote-only world?
One of the major strengths of the Android developer community has always been a strong community of Android conferences and meetups.
2020 has been a significant challenge for conferences, meetups, and other in-person events. But, with that challenge, organizers have been adapting to this new remote paradigm.
- Google I/O was cancelled this year, but Google treated us with the 11 Weeks of Android as a means of helping devs learn about all the new updates in the world of Android
- Indie conferences like Chicago Roboto and Android Summit moved to virtual events this year. Organizers have done a great job finding new ways to make remote events feel more personal through breakout sessions, panel sessions, scholar programs, and more. While remote conferences don’t bring the same level of connection as an in-person event, I’ve still found them to be a nice way to connect and learn.
- With the absence of in-person events, the Droidcon organization has been adapting with a series of online conferences and 1-shot webinars. These have been a great source of quality technical material through the year. You can find the Droidcon Online recordings here.
- The Kotlin 1.4 online event is serving as our virtual stand-in for KotlinConf this year. It promises several days of Kotlin content and likely a look forward at the future of the Kotlin ecosystem.
- Google has adapted to 2020 with an increase in content coming from the Android Developers YouTube channel. A few of the most relevant series include Now In Android, Android 11, Kotlin Vocabulary, and the 11 Weeks of Android.
- A handful of devs banded together to put together a collective YouTube channel of Android development content called AsyncAndroid.
Conferences and meetups have been an integral part of my Android development experience. I’ve made great friends and gotten to travel the world sharing about something I really enjoy.
The lack of in-person events has been a challenge for me as I know it has been for many others. The loss of that social time is a significant absence.
That said, I’ve also been really impressed by people’s willingness and ability to adapt. There has been some really great online content coming out, and also a push to elevate the experience of online events.
I hope that this trend continues, and that one small silver lining to 2020 will be an improved blueprint for online events that can better bring people together moving forward.
What in the world of Android development are you interested in right now? Join in the conversation in the comments below.
See you next time devs 👋