The 2018 Android Dev Summit kicks off today, here’s what Google announced

By | 7th November 2018

Another year brings us another Android Dev Summit held by Google. Google never lets up on news from the development scene of the biggest mobile operating system in the world. The 2018 Android Dev Summit kicked off today in Mountain View, California where Google highlighted Android’s successes, talked about their roadmaps for current development tools, and announced new features to boot. During the last 10 years of its existence, Android has managed to gather developers from more than 190 countries who have developed for an ecosystem of over 2 billion active devices. Both metrics show us how enormous the Android ecosystem really is, and how successful Google has been in courting developers for their platform.

Kotlin

Last year, during Google I/O 2017, the company announced that Kotlin is an officially supported programming language for Android. Now, 300 of the top 1,000 apps in the Google Play Store are built with Kotlin. Kotlin was developed by JetBrains, a company you may be familiar with due to their suite of popular IDEs for various platforms and programming languages. Last week, version 1.3 of Kotlin was released. We saw a brief overview of the new features at the event, including inline classes (create a type that “doesn’t allocate unless boxed”), unsigned numbers (including UInt, UByte, and ULong) as part of the Kotlin standard library, multiplatform code written for Android/JVM can target Javascript or native, and coroutine support. You can see the full changelog on the official JetBrains blog.

Navigation and Work Manager

Earlier this year, Google released Android Jetpack, a set of components and tools to help developers build backward-compatible applications. The bundles of mentioned components are separated into four categories: Architecture, UI, Foundation, and Behavior. Making AndroidX open-source helped Google gather feedback and valuable contributions from the developers and users of the Android Support Library.

Now, the Architecture category is getting two new components: Navigation and Work Manager. The function of the first component is self-explanatory: It lets developers implement default principles of Android’s navigation, using just one activity. Navigation Editor, available in Android Studio 3.2 or newer, will let you create and edit your navigation architecture. All of these will ensure that transitions and animations between activities and devices are as smooth as it gets.

WorkManager makes it easy for applications to be as efficient as possible. It will leverage on application state and device API level (the version of Android running). We don’t have the technical details of the component just yet, so be sure to read the official documentation when it goes up. Both components will be available as a beta starting next month.

Android Studio 3.3 Beta

Whether you like it or not, Android Studio is the only full-fledged IDE for coding apps for Android. Google has been trying hard to make it as stable as possible, and the journey still continues. The next several releases of Android Studio will be focusing on quality and fundamentals. That will fix the remaining memory leaks, eliminate crashes and hangs, and will improve the overall user experience. Google also let us know that Android Studio will be a fully supported IDE on Chrome OS early next year. Android 3.3 Beta 3 is available starting today with R8 support.

Updated Android App Bundles

Google also talked about the updated Android App Bundles feature. This is actually not new so I’ll try to keep it simple: The company released uncompressed native libraries support for app bundles. That way, downloaded app bundles are 8% smaller and 16% when installed on Android Marshmallow or later. You can see the details in our previous article about the feature.

In-app Updates API

Google is re-iterating another previously-announced feature, just in case you missed it last time. The new in-app updates API lets developers customize the application updating flow and give users the ability to choose from two different options: critical update and flexible update. The API is more detailed in our previous article.

Instant discovery

Just a couple of months ago, Google eliminated the requirement of having a website to run instant apps. That way, developers of instant apps and games don’t have to make a separate URL for their projects. Application size limit has also been increased to 10MB. Now, starting with Android Studio 3.3 Beta, you can build an instant-enabled app bundle. That way, you can have both instant and installed applications in a single Android App Bundle and deploy them at the same time via Android Studio. You don’t have to upload two separate AABs for these two methods. This is a step taken further to help developers adopt instant apps and games.


That’s everything we know about Android Dev Summit 2018 so far. Make sure to watch the live stream on YouTube as there will be over 30 sessions explaining the updates and deep technical content of the Android development scene.