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What Is the Difference between Canary, Beta, RC and Stable Releases in Android Studio?

Unstable vs stable release.

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between canary, beta, RC and stable releases in the Android Studio? Well, I have and I did some research. So let’s get started.

You have probably realized that you don’t receive all the updates, if you are using the stable channel. What do I mean by stable channel? Android Studio has a built-in preview update mechanism. Preview channels are used to send users the appropriate build of the Android Studio. For example, if you are in a stable preview channel you will only get the stable releases, but if you are in a canary channel you will get all the updates including the buggy ones. So if you want to test the new features right when they are released, you must not be on a stable channel. Here is how you can change your channel:

Open the Settings dialog (File > Settings on Windows/Linux, or Android Studio > Preferences on Mac).

In the left panel, select Appearance & Behavior > System Settings > Updates, then select a channel from the drop-down list.

If you want to have an unstable version alongside your stable Android Studio, you can download it here.

Ok, so you want to test the new features and report some bugs, but which preview channel is right for you? Here is a list of all the available channels:

1.) Canary channel

Canary channel gets all the newest releases (including stable). That means that you can test all the features as soon as they are built. Updates are usually released weekly and are mostly used to show the new latest and greatest features. You should not expect any bug-free experience.

2.) Dev channel

Dev channel gets hand-picked releases form older canary builds that have been tested for a while. Just like the canary channel, this channel is used to show people what is new as soon as possible. It is still very unstable and it should be only used to test new features. Dev channel releases are usually released weekly or monthly.

3.) Beta channel

If you are interested in using the new features, with minimal risk, beta channel is for you. Beta channel releases normally contain all the features that a team has decided to put in, but it is still expected to have some bugs and performance issues.

4.) Stable channel

Finally, the stable channel. This channel’s releases get the full testing and are the best to avoid crashes and other issues. In this channel Android Studio doesn’t change much more in its current version. You can expect reliability and good performance. This is probably why all the users will use this channel for production use.

Ok, I have explained the differences between the channels and you have probably seen that going down the list, channels get less, but more and more stable releases.

So now let’s focus on the different releases. To explain that I will use Android Studio 3.0 as an example. This version of IDE was released in the following releases:

1.) Canary release

Android Studio 3.0 began its journey as the canary release, because just like I have mentioned before canary releases’ intention is to showcase the new features. Although these builds are tested, they are still very unstable. 3.0 version of the Android Studio had 9 canary releases. Every canary release almost always provides some bug fixes or sometimes some new features. Documentation of the last canary release can be accessed here.

2.) Beta release

IDE went through its canary releases and showed the new features to the world. It had gotten some bug fixes and then the next step was the beta release. Beta release is usually more stable and usable, but it is still totally normal to experience some bugs. Android Studio 3.0 had 7 beta releases and it was slowly being polished to the final product. If you are interested in what the last beta release introduced, you can access the documentation here.

3.) RC release

RC stands for release candidate and it is also known as “going silver.” It is the last step before the stable release. At this stage Android Studio 3.0 was ready for use on a production site, but it had still not been marked as a stable version just in case if more bugs appeared. Android Studio 3.0 had 2 RC versions and only general bug fixes were introduced. The last RC release’s documentation can be found here.

4.) Stable release

Stable release is, as you might have guessed it, also known as “going gold.” This is the release most people are going to use, because hopefully it doesn’t have annoying bugs, it is performant and reliable. Link to the documentation is here.

Hopefully, I have managed to explain the differences between the releases and next time when the new version of Android Studio is released, you will know what to expect from it.

Thanks for reading! If you think that I forgot to mention something important, or I was wrong somewhere, please let me know in the comments!

Closing Notes:

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Vid Bregar

Vid Bregar

Technology. Android. Guitar.

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