Android Studio 2.0 Aims to Rev App Development

Google last week released a preview of Android Studio 2.0 at the inaugural Android Dev Summit in Mountain View, California.

The preview offers several updates, including Instant Run and a new GPU Profiler.

It’s available in theCanary release channel for the Linux, Mac and Windows platforms.

Instant Run lets developers see changes to code running on their devices or emulators, while the GPU Profiler lets users profile their OpenGL ES Android code.

“The Android development toolset has been making improvements over time, and this is a new addition that will help developers save time in the development cycle,” said Al Hilwa, a research program director at IDC.

More on Instant Run

Instant Run is designed to make it unnecessary for devs to rebuild and debug code to monitor small changes they make.

It populates builds up to 50 times faster than before, according to TheNextWeb.

New projects created with Android Studio 2.0 already have Instant Run set up. Devs who have a pre-existing app have to set up the feature themselves.

Instant Run reportedly works for all apps targeting Ice Cream Sandwich and later. Game developers could use the feature.

“This feature is a great incremental addition,” Hilwa told LinuxInsider.

What the GPU Profiler Does

The GPU Profiler displays details about the GL State and Commands, giving devs a look at memory and graphics management so they will know how efficiently their code is running.

It also lets devs record entire sessions and walk through the GL Framebuffer and Textures while their app is running OpenGL ES code, Google said.

“GPUs are getting used more and more these days,” Hilwa said.

GPU Profiler’s new capabilities “will help build graphics-intensive applications, mostly games,” but that’s not all. Device GPUs “are being used increasingly for a variety of nongraphical computations, and so this will be a generally applicable improvement,” he said.

Catching Up With iOS and Windows?

Android’s tools for mobile developers lag behind those from Apple and Microsoft,Strategy Analytics has found.

It tested Apple’s Xcode, Android Studio and Microsoft’s Visual Studio in the following areas: languages, platforms, team working, gaming, testing and the editor. Xcode scored the highest, 22, followed by Visual Studio with a score of 21 and Android Studio with 13.

While Xcode beat out the other two in gaming capabilities, Visual Studio, the most mature product, is the only environment that can be used to code for multiple platforms. It also has a stronger editing and licensing suite, according to Strategy Analytics.

Android Studio was lacking in all six areas. Google apparently is aware of this and plans to remedy the issue with updates, Strategy Analytics said.

Issues With Android Development

Revenue “is and has been the big problem for Android developers. The tools aren’t bad; it’s the revenue model that’s been the problem. Unlike iOS users, Android users don’t really like to buy stuff,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Google “needs to focus more on figuring out how to get Android users to behave more like iOS users and buy stuff,” he told LinuxInsider.

Massive fragmentation is another problem Android devs face.

That’s mainly due to “carriers not pushing out updates and device-makers wanting to differentiate [themselves] broadly from the Android UI,” Enderle observed.

In addition, device fragmentation “leads to longer testing cycles and quality issues in less-popular devices,” Hilwa said.

Another problem is that “Google tends to treat [devs] like they are charity cases and not a critical part of their ecosystem,” Enderle remarked.

On the other hand, Android “is a very inexpensive platform to develop for, and the app store vetting process is far less draconian than Apple’s,” he said. “If you don’t like it, you can get users to side load your apps.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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