Android Studio 2.2 Adds Layout Editor, More

Posted on September 19, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev with 0 Comments

Android Studio 2.2 Adds Layout Editor, More

Android app developers can grab a big update for Android Studio today. Version 2.2 adds a new visual layout editor, support for all the latest developer features in Android 7.0 Nougat, and much more.

I’ve been using Android Studio for the past few months while participating in the inaugural session of Udacity’s Android Basics Nanodegree, so I’ve really come to understand its highs and lows, not to mention how Android development measures up to Visual Studio on Windows or Xcode on macOS. And on that note, any improvements to the core dev product are, of course, as appreciated as they are necessary.

The new visual layout editor is perhaps the most interesting bit here, for me, since I’ve been creating layouts manually with XML during the course. (I do see that some other similar courses, like Udemy’s Master Android 7 App Development—which is just $19 right now, by the way—do already cover this functionality. And of course, the cynical part of me will note that Visual Basic offered something like this about 20 years ago.

Anyway. Here’s what Google says is new in Android Studio 2.2.

Layout Editor. A new user interface designer makes creating Android app UIs easier than ever. You can plot out the structure of your app UI with a new blueprint mode and adjust the visual attributes of each widget with a new properties panel. You can learn more about this new editor from Google in Build a UI with Layout Editor.

Constraint layout. This new layout type is a flexible layout manager for your app that allows you to create dynamic user interfaces without nesting multiple layouts, Google says. (This is something I’ve had a lot of experience with, go figure.) It is backwards compatible all the way back to Android API level 9 (Gingerbread) and works best with the new layout editor in Android Studio 2.2. You can learn more about this new layout type in Build a Responsive UI with ConstraintLayout.

Improved C++ support. You can now use CMake to compile your C++ projects from Gradle, and migrate CMake build systems to Android Studio seamlessly.

Instant Run improvements First introduced in Android Studio 2.0, Instant Run is Google’s “major, long-term investment to make Android development as fast and lightweight” as possible. In 2.2 Google has made stability and reliability improvements, and asks that devs who previously disabled this feature give it another shot.

APK analyzer. Now, you can inspect the contents of your APKs to understand the size contribution of each component.

New virtual sensors in the Android emulator. The Android emulator now includes a new set of virtual sensors controls, such as Accelerometer, Ambient Temperature, Magnetometer and more.

There’s a lot more. Check out this Google Developer post for more information.


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