Google has released the beta of Jetpack Compose, Google's future toolkit for building user interfaces for Android apps.
Google has been working on Jetpack Compose as an open-source project since 2019 and the beta release means its application programming interfaces (APIs) are "feature complete", giving developers the features required to build production-ready apps. However, Google warns that the APIs may still contain bugs.
It's also a stable set of APIs, so Google won't be changing or removing any of them.
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"Now is a great time to start learning Compose and begin planning for how you will use it in an upcoming project or feature once it reaches 1.0 later this year," Google's Android developer team notes.
"For the beta release, we've been focused on ensuring API completeness; that all foundational APIs are in place for us to continue to build upon for 1.0 and beyond. We'll work on stabilizing these APIs up to our 1.0 release with particular focus on app performance and accessibility," the team added.
The Jetpack Compose beta follows the first developer preview release of Android 12, the next major update to its mobile operating system.
Google is encouraging developers to install the beta of Jetpack Compose along with the developer beta of Android 12. The first public beta of Android 12 will be available around May with a stable release happening around August.
Jetpack Compose is built in Kotlin, the Google-endorsed programming language for building Android apps. The Kotlin base means Jetpack Compose is interoperable with Java and has direct access to all of the Android and Jetpack APIs.
The beta release contains API updates that promise to make it easier to create gestures, animations and scrolling with less code.
Jetpack Compose has been developed by Google alongside its other UI framework, Flutter, which is written in Google's Dart programming language. Jetpack Compose allows developers to use their knowledge of Android Views for creating widgets and other layouts.
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While Jetpack Compose is dedicated to UI development for Android, Google wants Flutter to be a cross-platform UI framework for everything from Android to the web and Windows 10.
Google software engineers behind Jetpack Compose are trying to improve its performance to at least be on par with Android Views, and optimizing it for low-end Android devices.
Google has released a set of free tutorials to help encourage adoption of Jetpack Compose among Android app developers. It's also released new documentation.