Every year revolutions are expected in mobile development. It seems that now it is definitely time for global changes. The trendsetters are still the same – IoT, cloud computing, virtual reality, and blockchain. But that is not what we will talk about today. The agenda includes specific technologies and tools that are already fundamentally changing the capabilities of the Android platform.
Instant App. Apps that don’t need to be downloaded and installed and that work directly in the browser appeared in 2016. 2018 was their breakthrough year, and the next years will be a time of mass adoption. They allow you to test an app without downloading it, making it easier to access a number of its core features. For example, the Vimeo streaming video platform or Mcessay.com. Thanks to the new technologies, the size of their downloadable file has decreased from 15 MB to 4 MB of functionality. According to the company’s statistics, the introduction of Android Instant App technology has increased users’ video sessions by 130%. Other examples, which quickly became hits, are crosswords from the New York Times, mobile TV Red Bull and Skyscanner.
Separately worth mentioning is the Android App Bundle, which is becoming the easiest format to publish an app on GooglePlay. Users initially download only the core of the application, and then as required to load the remaining functional modules. Most importantly, the store will offer dynamic APK downloads. Users will receive a file optimized for their specific device, and resources with code for other gadgets will remain outside of the installed package. When apps are updated, only new features will be delivered
Flutter. The Flutter environment, powered by the Dart language, is the very future of Android development that has already arrived. This tool allows you to quickly create cross-platform Android and iOS apps and increases their performance. One gets the feeling that if anything is going to displace Java from Android technology, it will most likely be this framework. However, it is deceptive. Right now it is too premature to talk about such a replacement. Native development tools already had many such competitors (take React Native), but they have not become the dominant technology. At the same time, the development of new frameworks is one of the main directions for Google. They are ideal tools for “simple applications”, but if augmented reality or complex telemetry is used, they are clear losers in competition with Java.
Such frameworks are criticized for being platform dependent. But Flutter, unlike Xamarin, is a product of Google, which is strongly interested in its support and promotion. It is this framework, unlike its predecessors, will be the most solid and viable alternative for Android.
Kotlin. A special plugin for Android Studio quickly converts Java files to Kotlin. This language will have a crucial impact on the platform in 2019. It allows you to make code lighter and more structured. It is more concise and simple, but you can’t do without libraries and knowledge of Java. Kotlin has advanced security features and is constantly building on its strengths in this component… It was developed by JetBrains, who created IntelliJ IDEA (the basis of Android Studio). In general, it has everything to gradually come to a dominant position, but in isolation from Java, we can not consider this language. For now, we will highlight its main advantages: less code (on average, 20%) and the absence of multi-layer architecture, additional types, which helps in security checks. Kotlin is an advanced version of Java, which an experienced javist can master in a day.
Android Enterprise. The Android Enterprise Recommended certification program sets general requirements for Android mobile devices. Hardware that complies with this program will receive priority and wider distribution opportunities (especially among enterprise customers). Manufacturers of such devices are specially instructed by Google. Obviously, in hardware, this system takes on a key importance. Targeting devices to this program is one of the key changes in the Android world in 2019. Manufacturers will strive to get this compliance, and app developers will be able to optimize the performance of their products for a standard set of technical parameters.
ARCore. Augmented reality on Android is taking on more and more concrete forms in the coming year. ARCore technology allows programmers to use device sensors to display the environment and place virtual objects in it. If in 2018 this technology looked more like a field for experimentation, in 2019 it will already be actively used to demonstrate and promote products. One of the most striking examples is the app from IKEA. The basis of ARCore is the Tango platform. The launch of the technology requires no additional hardware, which means that today the tool can already be used on millions of Android devices. The introduction will not be a one-time and large-scale – VR and AR projects are already accustomed to the fact that their development is taking place in a more relaxed and evolutionary way. In addition, we can expect the appearance of specialized browsers for developers, where they will be able to test augmented reality on their sites. Particular attention should be paid to the exact adjustment for the specific sensors of Android devices. The quality of such AR applications will depend on this.