Google expands Android Jetpack, other Android development tools

At Google I/O, Google made a number of announcements focused on how it's helping Android developers work more productively.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Google on Tuesday announced an expansion of Android Jetpack, a collection of Android software components that helps developers follow best practices, frees them from writing boilerplate code, and simplifies complex tasks. The expansion of the toolkit includes six new Jetpack libraries in alpha. Google is also bringing five libraries to beta quality.

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The expansion, along with a number of other announcements related to Android development, came at Google I/O, the annual developer conference held in Google's home town of Mountain View, California. Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud's new CEO, opened the developer keynote. 

"There's never been a better time to be a developer," Kurian said, citing new user interfaces such as voice and camera, cloud computing and Google Assistant's AI functionality.

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Announced just last year, Jetpack is already in use by more than 80 percent of the top 1,000 Android apps. Some of the new libraries for Jetpack include CameraX, an open-source library that should make camera development easier across a range of unique Android devices. Another new library is Jetpack Compose, which combines a reactive programming model with Kotlin to simplify UI development.

Google also announced ways it's encouraging Android developers to use Kotlin, the fast-growing programming language. More than 50 percent of professional Android developers already use it, just two years after Google announced Kotlin was a supported language for Android.

Many new Jetpack APIs and features will be offered in Kotlin first, Google said. Additionally, Google is working with Jetbrains and the Kotlin Foundation to offer more tooling, docs, trainings and events to get developers using it, including a new global event series called Kotlin/Everywhere.

Google also announced it's releasing Android Studio 3.5 to beta. It includes better IDE memory management for large projects, lower typing latency, lint improvements, CPU usage optimizations, layout editor improvements, emulator improvements and build changes, among other updates. 

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