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Illustration by Virginia Poltrack

Now in Android #26

Target API requirements, AndroidX, Unit 2 of Android Basics course, Play Store+Billing articles, texture mapping for game developers, RecyclerView, performance, and authentication

Chet Haase
Sep 30 · 6 min read

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

NiA26 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.

Target API 29+ Required for App Updates

By November 2, all app updates will need to target API level 29 or above. Most app updates are there already, but if yours is one of those that isn’t, now is the perfect time to do this. Because November 3 is too late.

For more information, check out the guide on meeting Google Play’s target SDK requirement.

AndroidX Releases

AndroidX had the usual updates to various intermediate versions of Alpha, Beta, and RC versions, but there were also a couple of libraries worth noting that released stable versions:

  • Media 1.2.0: This release improves AudioAttributesCompat support, support for volume control when using Mediarouter, and fixes for interop with Media2.
  • Exif 1.3.0: This version has some important bugfixes (such as one causing Out of Memory situations) as well as the ability to write EXIF metadata for WebP files.

Course: Android Basics in Kotlin

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Unit 2 of the Android Basics in Kotlin course is now available. This course allows people with no development experience to learn software development, Android, and Kotlin, all in the same course.

Unit 1: Kotlin basics for Android covers fundamentals like classes, objects, and conditionals, along with how to use images and text in an Android app.

Unit 2: Layouts introduces UI concepts including XML layouts, Material Design, getting user input, and using RecyclerView. Students will build two different apps with these capabilities and more.

Oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the cost: FREE! Free is my favorite price!

Play Time

There were some recent articles on Google Play that developers might want to check out.

Play Store and Play Billing

Sameer Samat published an article which clarifies some requirements and policies for apps that use the Play Store. For example, it talks about being hosted on Play Store… as well as other app stores, and about requirements around the use of Play Billing for in-app purchases of digital goods.

To help understand some of the details in the previous article, Mrinalini Loew also published an FAQ with questions (and answers!) around these and other Play Store policies.

Also, if you want to know more about how to use Play Billing, check out Caren Chang’s series:

Play Console

If you use the Play Console, hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out the new version of the console, which has been in Beta since June. As usually happens with Beta products (at least in the ideal case), Play Console will be coming out of Beta and launching the stable version a month from now, on November 2. The old Play Console will go away and everyone will use the new version.

This new version offers various features, including a vastly improved UI and experience (it was a complete redesign effort).

If you want to check out the new one before it launches, go to play.google.com/console. Or just wait in aching suspense and start using it when the new console becomes the only console on November 2.

Hey, Game Developers!

We posted content recently that’s specifically for developers writing games for Android:

Texture Compression Format Targeting

Texture compression is a useful technology for games; by using a different formats, developers can achieve smaller download and runtime footprint as well as better runtime performance. But not all devices support all possible texture formats. So what’s a developer to do?

Play Asset Delivery now allows you to use multiple different texture formats in your App Bundle, and it will download the appropriate version based on the user device’s capabilities. For a quick overview of texture compression, as well as details on how to take advantage of this new game distribution feature, Check out this article from Daniel Galpin.

Or if you prefer your content in video form, here’s the same information, from Daniel’s Game Dev Show:

Texture Counters in the GPU Inspector

Speaking of textures and game development, Francesco Carucci posted a video to the Game Dev Show that shows how to use one of the features in the new Android GPU Inspector tool to track down performance problems related to the use of textures.

Textures are at the heart of the graphics that are rendered by games, and can therefore be at the heart of performance problems. The video provides a nice example of using the GPU Inspector, while talking about some of the problems around bandwidth, cache, and filtering, and how these issues are surfaced in the tool.

Other Articles & Videos

RecyclerView: The Basics

Meghan Mehta has posted the first in a hopefully ongoing series on RecyclerView.

There are plenty of resources on RecyclerView already, including a RecyclerView guide, samples in both Kotlin and Java, and of course the reference documentation itself. But if you just want to create a basic RecyclerView to display, say, some text items, or if you want a simple overview, then this article might be just for you, and if you want the sample code underlying it, you can also check out the GitHub project for it.

Performance Myth Busting

Calin Juravle published an article discussing (and busting) several myths on how to improve Android app performance, like Kotlin-v-Java app size/startup, fields-v-getters/setters, lambdas-v-inner classes, and the use of object pools. Check out the article for the details, but I’ll offer a spoiler for the most important takeaway: profile your app (the non-debug version!) before deciding what to spend your time optimizing. Because you might just be wasting your time instead of saving your users’ time.

Security and Authentication

The Android security team posted an article that explains different tiers of authentication, and goes into detail on the biometric APIs that have been introduced in Android P, Android 10, and Android 11.

Now then…

That’s it for this time. Now go update your app to targetSdk 29! Check out the new AndroidX stable releases! Take Unit 2 of the Android Basics in Kotlin course! Read up on Play Store policies and the new Play Console! Learn some cool game development techniques around texture maps! Read articles on RecyclerView, performance, and security! And come back here soon for the next update from the Android developer universe.

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