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Illustration by Virginia Poltrack

Now in Android #24

Jetpack Compose Alpha, ConstraintLayout 2.0, #11WeeksOfAndroid, Android 11 meetups, AndroidX releases, an article, a video series, and a podcast

Chet Haase
Sep 2 · 6 min read

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

NiA24 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.



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

Jetpack Compose: The Alpha Release!

This UI topic deserves its own callout because Jetpack Compose IS THE FUTURE UI TOOLKIT FOR ANDROID. It’s pretty huge, folks. And it’s been out there to play around with for a while. But if you’re one of those developers that likes to hang back until things settle down a bit, then this might be a good time for you to tune in, check it out, and give us feedback.

It’s an Alpha release, so expect the API to still be in flux as the team hones the details heading toward Beta. But a lot of the fundamentals of the API and the programming model should be pretty set and solid now, and there’s a lot more content to learn from, so try it out and let us know how it works for you.

Some things to start, or continue, your Compose journey include the learning pathway for Jetpack Compose (which includes articles, videos, and codelabs), Leland Richardson’s Thinking in Compose video, several new code samples, and the Compose website with all kinds of links to more resources.

And if you want to know more of the back story and internal details of Compose, check out the ADB podcast we posted last week.

ConstraintLayout 2.0

This library has been used in alpha and beta forms for some time now, but it was finally time for it to grow up into a stable adult member of our society.

Sean McQuillan posted an article on the release on the release, which offers various features worth checking out, including:

Flow virtual layout, which is helpful for chaining several items together in a way that they can flow onto the next line when there is not enough space available in the container at runtime.

Layer, a helper which makes it easy to apply transformations to several views at once.

MotionLayout, a subset of ConstraintLayout which enables rich UI transition animations. Android Studio now offers Motion Editor, a design tool for MotionLayout, simplifying the process for creating these powerful experiences. Check out Scott Swarthout’s article on the new Motion Editor tool in Studio and Sean’s new sample to get started.

11 Weeks of Android… DONE!

We finished off 11 Weeks of Android last week with tons of content about UI. Here’s how to find out more about the Games and UI topics covered since the last episode of Now in Android:

Week 10: Games, Media & 5G

This week covered wide-ranging content in media controls, using new 5G capabilities, and a bunch of information about game development. To check out what happened, start with the wrap-up blog and the learning pathway. Also, check out the video playlist to see the videos that were posted, and tune into Daniel Galpin’s Android Game Dev Show for the latest videos on gaming technology for Android.

Week 11: UI

UI was the final topic for the 11 Weeks series, and it was a doozy. There was a *lot* of great content covering everything from keyboard animation to Material Design Components, finally culminating in the launch of Jetpack Compose alpha (see the first item above). Read the wrap-up blog for all of the details and links, follow the Modern UI pathway to step through some great articles, videos, and codelabs, check out the video playlist for the week, and see above for more specifics about Jetpack Compose.

Next week: Nothing! We’re done. I think everyone is pausing for breath.

Android 11 Meetups… DONE!

It has been a time for finishing things (something not often seen in software development): First, we finished #11WeeksOfAndroid last week, and now we bring the Summer’s online event series, Android 11 Meetups, to a close.

It’s been a fun-filled international series, with events happening all over the world in at least, at last count, 57 different locations. If you didn’t get a chance to attend any live, many of the recordings are posted on the Android 11 Meetups site.

Thanks to everyone who participated, from the community organizers to the speakers who gave talks and stuck around for live Q&A, to the many thousands of you who attended the talks and learned about what’s happening in the world of Android development.

AndroidX Releases

As usual, there were several Android libraries released in various versions recently. Most of these were alphas and betas of various stages of development. A few notable releases to check out include:

  • Concurrent 1.1.0: This library simplifies converting from ListenableFuture to Kotlin coroutines.
  • Webkit 1.3.0: This new version enables ForceDarkStrategy, the WebMessageListener API, and checking whether WebView is running in multi-process mode.
  • ConstraintLayout 2.0.0: This release has a bunch of exciting new features like MotionLayout, which I already talked about above.
  • Security-Identity-Credential 1.0.0-alpha01: This new library provides access to the new credential APIs in Android 11, with a keystore-backed implementation for older releases back to API 24.

Articles & Videos

Structural Class Redefinition

Alex Light wrote an interesting article about how the ART team added the ability to JVM TI (Java Virtual Machine Tool Interface) to be able to change a class’s structure at runtime, including adding methods and fields. This change allows Android Studio’s Apply Changes feature (the faster way to build and install your app… depending on what code and resource changes you’ve made) to be usable in many more situations.

Motion Tags… the Video Series

The Android Studio team started a new series of videos called Motion Tags, detailing the tags you use with MotionLayout to create rich layout animations. They’ve posted four episodes so far; check out the playlist and stay tuned for more.

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 147: Jetpack Compose Alpha

Romain Guy and I had a chat with Clara Bayarri, Matvei Malkov, and Anna-Chiara Bellini from the Toolkit team to talk about everything from where Compose came from, how the team approaches API design, challenges in building a new UI toolkit, and even what the term “alpha” means to the team.

Now then…

That’s it for this time. So go check out the Jetpack Compose Alpha and ConstraintLayout 2.0 releases! Consume all of the content from the final two weeks of #11WeeksOfAndroid! Watch some of the videos from the many worldwide Android 11 Meetups! Download the latest AndroidX releases! Listen to the new ADB podcast episode on Jetpack Compose! And come back here soon for the next update from the Android developer universe.

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