Google I/O: Google unveils improvements to Android Studio, Jetpack Compose and other developer tools

The annual developer conference didn't only include consumer announcements, but it also focused on tools for, well, developers.

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Google's annual developer conference is underway, where the company is expected to reveal new Pixel hardware, updates to various software products, including Android 13, and, yes, developer tools.

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During the Google I/O 2022 opening keynote, several improvements and new features were announced involving Android Studio, Jetpack Compose, developing apps for Android tablets, Wear OS improvements, Google Play and a new Health Connect platform.

Here's a quick rundown of the new developer tools announced during Google I/O 2022. 

Android Studio gains live edit

There are two new releases of Android Studio, to software suite and tools that developers use to create Android apps. Android Studio Dolphin Beta and Electric Eel Canary are the two different builds that not only have creative names but their own share of new features.

In the Dolphin Beta release developers will have access to these new features, according to Google:

  • View Compose animations and coordinate them with Animation Preview.
  • Define annotation classes to easily include and apply multiple Compose preview
  • definitions at once.
  • Track recomposition counts for your composables in the Layout Inspector.
  • Easily pair and control Wear OS emulators and launch tiles, watch faces, and
  • complications directly from Android Studio.
  • Diagnose app issues faster with Logcat V2.

In the Canary build of Android Studio, however, is where developers will get a glimpse of the new Live Edit feature that will immediately reflect any code changes in the Compose Preview for a currently running app, both in the emulator or on a physical device. Other changes in Canary include a new google Play SDK Index to view dependency insights, Firebase Crashlytics in Android Studio, and a resizable Android Emulator.

Google is hoping to gather developer feedback about all of the new Android Studio features before releasing them or moving them to a more stable build.

Android Jetpack gets more tools for developers

Android Jetpack is a resource of tools and APIs for developers to use to improve their apps. Jetpack Compose Beta 1.2 includes several new APIs and tools for developers to work use within their apps. Some examples of the new APIs include JankStats for analyzing the performance of an app, including dropped frames. There are also new APIs for downloadable fonts, drag-and-drop for sharing data between apps, and better tools for benchmarking apps.

There's also a new version of Jetpack Compose available in beta that's designed to help developers build apps for Google's Android Wear OS platform, including the just-announced Pixel Watch.

There are plenty more improvements

Google also announced new tools and initiatives outside the scope of Jetpack or Android Studio. For example, a new Health Connect platform that was built in partnership between Samsung and Google will make it possible to access a user's health data.

There are also new features coming to Android for Cars along with Android TV OS, but outside of a small tease, Google has only said that we can learn more by tuning into the respective developer sessions on May 12. One thing we do know is that Google Assistant is getting easier to use in Android for Cars thanks to a new API, along with Wear OS apps later this year.

As for Google Play updates, developers can expect to see the Google Play SDK Index, a Privacy Sandbox on Android for advertisers to honor a user's privacy while still making ads available, the new Google Wallet API (previously Google Pay Passes API) will support mixed passes and support for directly saving passes.

And, of course, Android 13 is a big part of Google I/O, with plenty of new APIs and tools for developers to integrate. 

If you tuned into the opening keynote at Google I/O 2022, let us know what you think about the new developer tools and features in the comments below. 

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