Android Studio 3.4 reaches stable with an Android Q emulator, R8 replacing Proguard, and more
Android Studio has been the primary IDE for Android developers around the world. The transition from Eclipse happened slowly but surely. Google has been adding as many features as possible to make the experience better. Thankfully, they have recently decided to settle and work on polishing the current set of features. Project Marble aims to improve the stability and reliability of Android Studio. Though the newest version of the development platform includes a couple of new features, the focus is clearly set on squashing as many bugs as possible.
Almost all the applications include some sort of icons or other kinds of graphical content. Most of the time they are included inside the package, along with the actual code of the application. Resource Manager, a new tool in Android Studio 3.4 is aiming to help you better organize drawables. It lets you import and manage the graphics resources and what’s even more interesting, you can now drag and drop any file from the Resource Manager to the application layout. You can enable Resource Manager by going to View > Tool Windows > Resource Manager.
During the development of the application, the developers often use libraries like Jetpack or Firebase. During the code-writing process, it’s easy to forget to import all the libraries required and add the dependencies to the Gradle file. This may cause a lot of errors and, even more often, confusion. Starting Android Studio 3.4, the IDE will now tell you every time you forget to import the library. Jetpack’s modularized nature helps it choose only the required set of libraries, thus adding minimal weight to the application’s code.
Layout Editor Properties Panel
This one is more of an aesthetic change than a functional one. Android Studio 3.4 introduces an updated Layout Editor, which now keeps every option under one window for better navigation. It also comes with a new color picker and individually highlighted errors and warnings.
Project Structure Dialog
If you have ever developed an Android application, then I’m sure you’d agree that dealing with Gradle and its dependencies is a pain. Google is finally offering a solution, as Android Studio 3.4 includes a new Project Structure Dialog (PSD). It is basically a user interface for managing Gradle project files and dependencies. It also helps you introduce new variables and improve your code by reading the suggestions. You can open the PSD by going to File > Project Structure or simply pressing Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S.
R8 by Default
Proguard has been a part of Android Studio for a while. It helps developers shrink the size of the application by compressing the code. To be honest, the difference has always been minimal. That’s why Google is now enabling R8 code shrinking by default. Previously, the code shrinking process was split into two tasks. The first one was handled by ProGuard and the second one by D8 and Desugar. A classification like that was inefficient, to say the least. R8 completely replaces the ProGuard while running along with D8 and Desugar. That way, it can remove unused code, shrink the remaining one, and optimize the application all at once, saving your time and workstation’s resources.
Android Q Beta Emulator
If you’re one of those developers who want to develop/update applications for Android Q but aren’t willing to go to the dark path of Android Studio Canary, you’re in for a treat. Android Studio 3.4 now includes emulator images of Android Q beta. You can now update/add all the APIs Android Q introduced, or delete the deprecated ones. Alongside the system images, Android Studio 3.4 also comes with Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL skins. Google actually recommends sticking with the Canary version to get all the compatibility changes during the Android Q beta program.
That’s basically it for the Android Studio 3.4. I tried to describe all the major new features as simple as possible. Of course, there are a lot more little things in the update, which you can see in the official changelog. You can download Android Studio 3.4 from that link, but if you already have the earlier version installed, just open it, navigate to Configure > Check for Updates and follow the instructions. Don’t forget to tell us in the comments what you think about the update.
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