Illustration by Virginia Poltrack

Now in Android #50 — ADS Recap Part 1

Welcome to Now in Android, your ongoing guide to what’s new and notable in the world of Android development. This week is part one of a two part series covering the happenings at Android Developer Summit 2021, including updates on what the Android team is doing around privacy and security, building for large screens, and Android 12.

Privacy and security

Sara N-Marandi, product manager, and Yacine Rezgui, developer relations engineer, provided guidelines and best practices on how to build apps that are private by design, covered new privacy features in Android 12 and previewed upcoming Android concepts.

Serban Constantinescu, product manager, talked about the Memory Safety Tools that became available starting in Android 11 and have continued to evolve in Android 12. These tools can help address memory bugs and improve the quality and security of your application.

I wrote an article covering the new Privacy Dashboard which gives users a timeline view of apps that have accessed location, microphone, and camera within the past 24 hours. Users can determine exactly when the access occurred, and they have the option to revoke permissions. I went over how to use Data Access Auditing APIs to track data access within your app and the Permission Intent API to present justification to users.

Lilian Young, software engineer, presented a selection of the most unusual, intricate, and interesting security issues addressed in the last year. Developers and researchers are able to contribute to the security of the Android platform by submitting to the Android Vulnerability Rewards Program.

Tina Sriskandarajah and Rustin Banks then went over how the new Data safety section will give you a simple way to showcase your app’s overall safety. It gives you a place to give users deeper insight into your app’s privacy and security practices, and explain the data your app may collect and why — all before users install.

Building for large screens

Clara Bayarri, engineering manager and Daniel Jacobson, product manager, talked about the state of the ecosystem, focusing on new design guidance, APIs, and tools to help you make the most of your UI on different screen sizes.

They covered the new Window Size Classes, updating existing apps with Views, Jetpack Compose for all screen sizes, new Android Studio tooling, and how to test apps on different devices of various sizes, all while tying back to updated Material Design guidance for layouts.

Emilie Roberts, Chrome OS developer advocate and Andrii Kulian, Android software engineer, introduced new features focused specifically on making apps look great on large screens, foldables, and Chrome OS. They took a deep dive into the Jetpack Window Manager library to see how to react to foldable posture changes, work with window dimensions and easily support multi-pane layouts.

Users expect seamless experiences when using keyboards, mice, and stylus. Emilie Roberts taught us how to handle common keyboard and mouse input events and how to get started with more advanced support like keyboard shortcuts, low-latency styluses, MIDI, and more.

Francesco Romano, developer advocate, and Will Chan, product manager at Zoom explored new user experiences made possible by the foldable form factor, focusing on video conferencing and media applications. Learn how to handle posture changes with Jetpack’s WindowManager API and new UI components from ConstraintLayout, together with some best practices to handle video and camera streams. They also delved into a few case studies on apps optimized layout of their apps for foldable devices.

Google recently launched new Material guidance for supporting large screens. In this talk, Liam Spradlin, design advocate, and Jonathan Koren, developer relations engineer, talked about how to design and test Android applications that look and feel great across device types and screen sizes, from tablets to foldables to Chrome OS. They talked about the fundamentals of how content can best fit these varying screens, introduced canonical layouts as a starting point for designs, showed how to leverage foldables, and gave tips on how to structure apps using the principles of responsive UI.

Dave Burke, vice president of engineering, wrote a post covering the developer preview of 12L, an upcoming feature drop that makes Android 12 even better on large screens. With the preview, you can try the new large screen features, optimize your apps, and let us know your feedback. 12L includes refined UI on large screens across notifications, quick settings, lockscreen, overview, home screen, and more. The new taskbar on large screens makes multitasking more robust and intuitive, allowing users to instantly switch to favorite apps on the fly. Learn more about 12L in the blog post.

Android 12

Zongmin Sun, software engineer, and Valentin Bazarevsky, MediaPipe Engineer, talked about Text Recognition V2 & Pose Detection, recently-released features in ML Kit. These advanced turn-key APIs are built on top of best-in-class models and pipelines. You’ll learn what is behind these APIs, to help you understand on-device machine learning basics and how to make their usage more efficient.

Research shows us that when users get a new device, they are frustrated if they have to sign into their favorite apps again, and are even more disappointed if they lose data. This can mean lower user retention and poor Play Store ratings.

In this talk, Martin Millmore, engineering manager, and Ruslan Tkhakokhov, software engineer, explored the benefits of transferring users’ data to a new device, using Backup and Restore to achieve that in a simple and secure way. They also looked at the interesting new capabilities and significant changes introduced to Backup and Restore in Android 12.

Developer relations engineers Kseniia Shumelchyk and Slava Panasenko talked about new Android 12 features and changes. They shared tools and techniques to ensure that apps are compatible with the next Android release and users can take advantage of new features, along with app developer success stories.

Learn the principles to help craft great experiences for the novice Internet user segment from Mrinal Sharma, UX manager, and Amrit Sanjeev, developer relations engineer. They highlight the gap between nascent and tech savvy user segments and suggest strategies in areas to improve the overall user experience. Factors like low functional literacy, being multilingual by default, being less digitally confident, and having no prior internet experience requires that we rethink the way we build apps for these users.

Now then…

That’s it for this time with updates on privacy and security, building for large screens and the Android 12L developer preview, and in-depth coverage of Android 12. Come back next week for the second installment from the Android Developer Summit.

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