Whether you've been using Android Studio as a primary development tool or are just looking into getting started in mobile development, you'll probably be interested to hear that Google has just released a pretty substantial update to the program. The update brings the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) to version 2.3 and was announced on March 2 alongside an outline for the host of new features via the official Google Developers Blog. In addition to the new features, there are other tweaks that Google has made to make the entire thing in general run more smoothly and more bug-free. New features cover the gamut from development, through design and building, and straight into testing. The update is likely the biggest since Google officially removed support for Eclipse tools back in November, so there's a lot to unpack here.
On the development front, version 2.3 adds the ability to set a Lint Baseline, with updated Lint checks and annotations. This will allow developers to more easily focus on new and pressing issues since it will ignore and stop reporting on unresolved issues that developers have marked as baseline issues. Google has also made supporting Android App Links easier by adding App Links Assistant. App Links Assistant makes creating, implementing, setting URL declarations, and testing App Links much more straight forward. Finally, the IntelliJ Platform 2016.2 release is included with Android Studio 2.3, including inspection window updates and a notifications system.
Setting up apps, to begin with, should also be more intuitive since all templates will now use ConstraintLayout by default in instead of RelativeLayout. Google has also added a new "Bottom Navigation Activity" template, which takes us into the design changes in this update. The stable release of ConstraintLayout includes the ability to group and "chain" two or more Android "views" bi-directionally, using ratios to control their spread across empty space. Associated adaptations can be created programmatically with ConstraintSet APIs. A widget has also been added in the Layout Editor so that developers can search, sort, and filter widgets for layouts. The tool offers a preview and users can also "favorite" attributes by widget simply by clicking on the star next to an attribute. Google has added WebP support as well so that PNG files aren't taking up so much APK space. WebP lossless saves an average of 25% over PNG's and the feature is accessible within the updated IDE through a simple right-click on any non-launcher PNG file. The conversion will happen within Android Studio itself. Finally, on the design end, an updated Material Icon Wizard now supports search and filtering for icon assets in addition to icon labeling.
Moving on to improvements made to the IDE's build and testing environment, Google has made some significant changes. Instant Run will now restart the application from the first line, to better replicate a restart that may be required to instantiate changes a developers code. It has also been bolstered underneath the hood to bring more reliability, as well as to eliminate startup lag. Build Cache has also seen some big changes and is now enabled by default, leading to faster clean builds in the new version of Android Studio. For testing applications, Emulator Copy & Paste has now been reintroduced so that developers can have a shared clipboard between the Android Emulator and the host operating system. Command-line tools have also been tweaked for the emulator with this update.