Illustration by Virginia Poltrack

Now in Android #35

Jetpack Compose beta, #AndroidDevChallenge, Android 12, WorkManager, Android for Cars library, RecyclerView, Coroutines, and a podcast

Chet Haase
Mar 3 · 7 min read

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

NiA35 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.

Jetpack Compose Beta

It’s here! It’s finally here! the beta release of Jetpack Compose! To celebrate, we created this show, with overviews, some Q&A, and a demo showing off some of why we’re looking forward to this new world:

Jetpack Compose is the future UI Toolkit for Android, designed to make it faster and easier to build native Android apps. We’ve been working on the library in open source for some time now, ever since we announced Compose at Google I/O in 2019. We hit the alpha milestone just last August, and last week we reached beta.

Since beta is a major achievement (denoting that the API is stable as we continue to solidify the product), we put out a lot of information about Compose, to help you learn how to use it and to prepare to adopt it in your applications when we hit 1.0 later this year.

First, check out this blog, which has links to all kinds of information about Jetpack Compose, as well as resources on learning more about it:

Next, there’s a whole series of videos and screencasts showing how to use different aspects of Jetpack Compose:

Of course, you’ll want to get your hands on some code, so be sure to check out the updated samples as well as the codelabs in the new learning pathway.

Finally, head over to our developer site to read the latest updated docs, with links to all kinds of other information about how to get started on Jetpack Compose.

#AndroidDevChallenge: Jetpack Compose

Android started life with a developer challenge, way back in 2007, a year before the 1.0 release. So it’s no surprise that we think about other challenges when there’s something new and cool in the Android development world to play with.

With Jetpack Compose going beta last week (see above! It’s right up there in the previous section!), we thought it was time for another challenge. This time, there are 4 weekly challenges, with a thousand prizes overall, including a Pixel 5.

The first challenge, a puppy adoption app, has just ended (sorry!), but the second challenge has just begun. This time, the task is to create a countdown timer. But hurry up: the clock is ticking!

See the kickoff blog, the blog on the second challenge, and the #AndroidDevChallenge site for more information. And go Compose some code!

Android 12: Developer Preview 1

It must be that time of year again —the cherry blossoms are out, the weather’s getting a little warmer, the California rains have dried up until November, and the first preview release for the next version of Android is now available!

Read the blog for an overview of what’s in the release, from privacy and security improvements, to graphics features like media transcoding and AVIF image support.

Also, check out the Android 12 Preview site for the details on behavior changes, new features and APIs, and more. And most importantly: try out your app on the new release and send us feedback with any issues you have; that’s the whole point of releasing these previews early, so that we can polish things up by the time we ship the finished product.

Of course, this release is just the first step of many yet to come as we head toward the final release. Look forward to more releases soon, with increasing amounts of features, fixes, and functionality.

Watch for these upcoming releases as we worktoward the final release of Android 12

MAD Skills: WorkManager

The MAD Skills series continues to roll on, with technical content about modern Android development.

The next and latest series in MAD Skills has just started this week, with an introduction to the series from Ben Weiss:

Ben Weiss introduces the series with a preview of upcoming WorkManager topics

WorkManager Basics: Caren Chang started off the technical content with this episode on WorkManager basics. She walks through an example using WorkManager to blur an image. Check out the WorkManager codelab to see the code.

Caren Chang starts off the series with this introduction to the basics of using WorkManager

But Wait, There’s More!

For ongoing content, be sure to check the MAD Skills playlist on YouTube, the articles on Medium, or this handy landing page that points to all of it.

Android(X) for Cars

A new API just drove into town: Android for Cars App Library. This beta library builds on the capabilities in the earlier closed-source com.google.android.libraries.car.app, but it’s now open source and available in AndroidX.

The API allows you to develop navigation, parking, and charging apps that run on Android Auto, simplifying development by providing templates for meeting driver distraction standards and handling details like different screen form factors and input differences.

Read the blog, check out the guide, use the library, and drive a new app experience.

Articles & Docs

RecyclerView Headers

In the final episode of her series on RecyclerView, Meghan Mehta shows how to implement headers for your RecyclerView using ConcatAdapter.

Coroutines Guidance

Multi-threaded programming can be tricky, but it’s important to get it right. For Kotlin developers, we recommend using coroutines as an easier way of writing concurrency code. But in case you are new to coroutines, or looking for advice on how to use them correctly and effectively, there’s a new doc to check out.

We’ve collected the best practices on how to develop with Kotlin Coroutines in a new guide.

Podcast Episodes

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

ADB 156: Android Runtime Classic (Dalvik)

I love our history episodes on ADB, where we get to find out the deep, dark secrets about how and why things were done the way they were. This time, Tor, Romain, and I spoke with Dan Bornstein, one of the very early engineers on the Android team long before 1.0. Dan created the Dalvik runtime, the predecessor of today’s Android Runtime (ART). We talked about some of the design decisions in Dalvik and about all kinds of techy things involving runtimes, garbage collectors, and performance.

ADB 157: Audio Feedback

We want to hear from you! This time Tor Norbye, Romain Guy and I talk about what we could do — or not do — to improve Android Developers Backstage.

Be sure to fill out the survey to let us know your thoughts!

Now then…

That’s it for this time. So go watch the Jetpack Compose Beta show and read about all of the new content and code we’ve shared! Challenge yourself in the #AndroidDevChallenge! Read about and play with the first developer preview for Android 12! Go MAD for information on WorkManager in the last MAD Skills series. Check out the new Android for Cars app library! Read about headers in RecyclerView containers and best practices for coroutines! Listen to the latest ADB podcast And come back here soon for the next update from the Android developer universe.

The End.

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