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Illustration by Virginia Poltrack

Now in Android #23

Android 11 Beta 3, #11WeeksOfAndroid, Android 11 online meetups, articles and videos, upcoming Reddit AMA on UI, and an ADB podcast for game developers

Chet Haase
Aug 19 · 7 min read

Welcome to Now in Android, your ongoing guide to what’s new and notable in the world of Android development.

NiA23 in Video and Podcast Form

This Now in Android is also offered in video and podcast form. It’s the same content, but with less reading required. The article version (keep reading!) is still the place to come for links to all of the content that’s covered.

Video

Podcast

Click on the link below, or just subscribe to the podcast in your favorite client app.

Android 11 Beta 3

Dave Burke announced the Beta3 release on the Android developers blog. This release does not have any new major features of behavior changes. This is by design, since Beta2 was the Platform Stability milestone, at which point the behavior and APIs were set. Instead, Beta3, the final beta release and release-candidate build for Android 11, focused on bugfixes and performance optimizations as the release winds its way to final release, which will be Real Soon Now.

Check out the release on the preview site, where you can read about all of the new features and download the system image. You can also register to receive the Beta release on your Pixel (2, 3, 3a, and 4) devices.


11 Weeks of Android

We are coming to the end of a busy and content-packed 11 Weeks of Android. Since the last episode of Now in Android, we finished off Android Developer Tools, then covered App Distribution & monetization, then spent a week on Android Beyond Phones, and are now in a week dedicated to Games & Media, with just one more week to go after this. Here’s how to find out more about each of these topics.

Week 7: Tools

Week 7 focused on the pieces of Android Studio that you should use to make application development and debugging easier and better.

The team posted a ton of content that week, including videos and articles on design tools, articles on the build system and things you can do to improve build speed, to performance profiling. Also, the new Motion Editor tool went stable in Android 4.0 that week, so if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, this might be a good time to do so.

You can find all of the resources from this week linked from the wrap-up blog. There’s also a pathway that winds its way through some of the core content, and a playlist for the videos posted during the week.

Week 8: Distribution

This week saw a flurry of content about using Play Store technology to help improve application development and distribution. Topics this week ranged from webinars on using the new Google Play Console to the new Play Billing Library 3, to Android App Bundles.

This last item deserves its own callout: Now that App Bundles are mature, the team is requiring that, starting in the second half of 2021, all new apps published the Play Store will need to use Android App Bundles (not just APKs). You can read more about this change and related changes like the deprecation of APK Expansion files (OBBs) in this Medium article.

Check out the wrap-up blog for all of the details and links to videos and articles. There’s also this handy pathway, and the playlist for all of the videos from the week.

Week 9: Android Beyond Phones

Week 9 focused on all of the Android form factors that aren’t phones. It turns out that there are a lot of these things. There were articles and videos on Wear OS, Android TV, Android Auto, and Android development for ChromeOS.

Check out the wrap up blog for the details and links to the week’s content, along with the playlist of the week’s videos.

Week 10: Games & Media

This week is all about developing games and media apps, with some articles and videos posted already and more to come throughout the week.

For starters, @Greg Hartrell posted What’s New for Game Developers. Keep an eye on the @AndroidDev #11WeeksOfAndroid feed to find out as new content gets posted this week. Also, check out the video playlist to see what’s landing there, and watch for the wrap-up blog at the end of the week.

Stay tuned next week for UI, the 11th week. In case you’re counting, that’s THE FINAL WEEK OF #11WeeksOfAndroid!!!!!.


Android 11 Meetups

The online meetups that I talked about last time have continued apace, with events happening all over the world. For example, on Monday I joined Murat Yener, Yacine Rezgui, and Fred Chung at an event in Nairobi (long flight!) and this Thursday I will join Fred again at an event in Memphis. I hope I’m racking up plenty of frequent flyer miles for all of this travel.

Check out the Android 11 Meetups site to find one happening near you.


Articles

Refragtoring

Ian Lake posted an in-depth article about recent fragment improvements. There’s a new alpha release of the AndroidX fragments library, but the article goes way beyond that to talking about the historic and current state of the Fragments API. (Note: if you are still using the platform’s Fragment API… STOP! That API is deprecated and you should be using AndroidX Fragments instead; it is much more up to date, with all functionality and fixes working across many Android releases.)

The major change for this release is the near complete refactoring of how FragmentManager works internally, which makes it possible for fragments to avoid some of the state-related problems that dogged the API over the years. This restructuring also enabled fixes for a large number of long-standing issues.

This work serves as the basis for future improvements, including support for multiple back stacks and simplification of the Fragment lifecycle.

Check out the article for all of the details, and download the latest Fragment 1.3.0 release (alpha08 or later) to try out the new stuff.

Kotlin 1.4 Released

Wojtek Kaliciński posted a blog about the recent 1.4 release of Kotlin. Some of the new features in this release include SAM conversions for Kotlin interfaces (not just interfaces in the Java programming language, as before), explicit API mode, and compiler performance and functionality improvements. Also, there’s an alpha version of the new Kotlin/JVM IR backend. This new backend is required for Jetpack Compose, but optional otherwise. You can enable it with kotlinOptions.useIR = true in your gradle build script — please try it out and let us know if you have any issues.


Reddit AMA: UI

As part of the #11WeeksOfAndroid series, we’ve been hosting Reddit AMAs. The first one was with the platform team on Android 11, then we had one on Tools with people from the Android Studio team. Next week, on August 27, we host our final (for now) AMA as part of UI week, where we will answer questions about Android Jetpack, Jetpack Compose, and anything else you can think of and we can answer in the general area of UI (or containing the word “Jetpack”).

The best part about this AMA is that I’m giving you more advance notice (the last two happened right around the time that Now in Android video and podcast were being posted, so it was really more of a “This happened!” notice than a “Please join us!” item). So… please join us!


ADB Podcast Episodes

There’s been another episode of Android Developers Backstage posted since the last Now in Android. Check it out at the link below, or in your favorite podcast client:


ADB 146: The Game Changer

This time, Romain Guy was hosting all on his own for this conversation about game technology with Greg Hartrell, product manager for games on Play/Android, and Daniel Galpin, developer advocate for games on Android. They talked about recent developments and offerings for game developers, including the Android development plugin for Visual Studio, other specialized tools for game developers, and new offerings from the team like Android Asset Delivery and Android App Bundle for distribution.

Now then…

That’s it for this time. So go check out Android 11 Beta 3! Watch and read all of the new content from #11WeeksOfAndroid! Join one of the many online Android 11 Meetup events! Read articles about Fragments and Kotlin 1.4! Add some questions and join the discussion for the next Reddit AMA on Android UI! Listen to the latest ADB podcast episode on Games! And come back here soon for the next update from the Android developer universe.

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