At its I/O developer conference, Google announced the first beta of the next version of its Android Studio IDE, Arctic Fox. For the most part, the idea here is to bring more of the tooling around building Android apps directly into the IDE.
While a lot is new in Arctic Fox, maybe the marquee feature of this update is the integration of Jetpack Compose, Google’s toolkit for building modern user interfaces for Android. In Android Studio, developers can now use Compose Preview to create previews of different configurations (think themes and devices) or deploy a preview directly to a machine. At the same time, the layout inspector makes it easier for developers to understand how (and why) a layout is rendered the way it is. With Live Updates enabled, any change is then also directly streamed to the device.
The team also integrated the Android Accessibility Test Framework directly into Android Studio to help developers find accessibility issues like missing content descriptions or low contrast in their designs.
Like with some of the updates to Android itself, the team is also looking at making it easier to develop for a broader range of form factors. To build Wear OS apps, developers previously had to physically connect the watch to their development machine or go through many steps to pair the look. Now, users can simply pair a watch and phone emulator (or physical phone) with the new Wear OS Pairing feature. All this takes now is a few clicks.
Also new on the Wear OS side is a new heart rate sensor for the Wear OS Emulators in Android Studio. At the same time, the Android Automotive emulator gains the ability to replay car sensor data to help those developers with their development and testing workflow.
Android Studio users who work on a Mac will be happy to hear that Google is also launching the first preview of Android Studio for the Apple Silicon (arm64) architecture.