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Android Studio 1.4 and Its Great Features

Android Studio received an excellent update in version 1.4. Learn more about the new features, which include vector assets, design tools, and more.

· Mobile Zone

Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud, brought to you in partnership with IBM.

Google released Android Studio 1.4 on 30 Sep, 2015, two months after the 1.3 release. It is more than just a minor update and features many great new tools and changes to speed up the development of Android application. The new update adds enhancements such as design tools, performance monitors, and native developer service support, and many more. In this post, we are going to explain top features fixed with Android Studio 1.4. Let's take a look.    

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    1. Design Tools

Lots of new design tools have been added to Android Studio 1.4, starting with the new Vector Assets Studio.

  • Vector Assets

Vector Drawables for image assets or quality was one of the new features that appeared in Android 5.0 Lollipop. A key advantage of this feature, instead of raster type images is that it helps reduce the number of density dependent drawables you need to hold, since vector drawables can scale good to various screen densities. Google has made the process of importing SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) images or Material icons much easier with this new version.

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However, what is even more fascinating is that Android Studio 1.4 offers some backwards compatibility for vector assets now. Also, now the new software will automatically create raster PNG (Portable Network Graphics) images for API level 20 and below during build time. It means you can safely move over to using vector drawables and Android Studio will handle the image conversion process for pre-Lollipop versions of Android.

  • Theme Editor

This feature examines the styles in a project and shows visual samples of what controls should look like on a live interface. Android app developers can make changes to different attributes instantly via the theme editor as well as can see them updated in the live preview. Only colors with color state-lists are supported for the initial release, but plenty of other features will be coming in the near future releases. You can change the colors easily:

  • Android:colorPrimary

  • Android:colorPrimaryDark

  • Android:colorAccent

  • Android:background

  •  Android:colorForeground

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  • Project Templates

This feature let the mobile app developers use various templates while starting a new project, it has options with different activities and fragments preconfigured for particular features, Developer can simply choose any of the templates listed below from New Project Wizard :

    1. Add No Activity &Blank Activity

    2. Empty Activity & FullScreen Activity

    3. Google Admob Ads Activity & Google Maps Activity

    4. Login Activity & Master/Detail Flow

    5. Navigation Drawer Activity & Scrolling Activity

    6.  Settings Activity & Tabbed Activity

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To help with the visual design of your mobile apps, Google has added updated app templates to include the Android Design Support Library and the AppCompat Support library. For those who want minimum code creation when adding an activity to your project, Android Studio 1.4  re-introduced the empty app template. Besides, the new release also allows you to validate your apps against the new Nexus 6p and Nexus 5x screen sizes.


    2. Performance Monitors (GPU and Networking)

  •  GPU Rendering Monitor

Apart from the usual CPU (central processing unit ) and memory monitoring, you can examine how an application uses the GPU (graphics processing units)over time or the transmit/receive rates when using the network. One of the most vital parts of the development cycle, particularly for games is app performance tuning. So, Google has added some new performance monitoring attributes to Android Studio 1.4, and now it is possible to inspect the GPU rendering performance of your app within no time. You need to turn on monitoring for your Android hardware device or emulator under Setting > Developer Options > Profile GPU rendering in order to enable GPU monitoring.

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Go for Profile GPU Rendering in the Monitoring section while choose on screen as bars to overlay the graphs on the screen of your mobile device in the Profile GPU Rendering popup. Go to the app that you want to profile. The tool displays a graph for each visible application. The vertical axis shows time per frame in milliseconds and the horizontal axis shows time elapsing. Keep in mind that GPU profiling is a complex topic, but Google has lots of GPU profiling documentation. So, check out the developer documentation to learn more about the GPU rendering results.

  •  Network Monitor

Now, you can monitor the network usage of your app with Android Studio 1.4. You can track the transmit / receive rates of your app over time with the monitor. The network profiler measures usage by processes to find when and how much data is traveling over the air due to your app.

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    3. Developer Services

  •  Firebase

With Android Studio 1.4, Integrating Firebase database is even easier and Firebase includes data storage, static hosting, user authentication and more. It is a platform for building cloud dependent apps and a Firebase database is stored as JSON (The JavaScript Object Notation) and synchronized in real time for every connected client, through the cloud. Go to File > Project Structure > Cloud to access this feature.

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If you want to use some of these new features such as vector assets or theme editor, then you need to use Gradle Plugin 1.4 for your app project. 1.4.0-beta3 that is the beta version of the Gradle plugin is available today on jcenter, and Jamal Eason, the Product Manager for Android said “The final version will be released in the next few weeks”. You can update Android Studio from the navigation menu (Help > Check for Update [Windows/Linux] , Android Studio > Check for Updates [OS X]).

We hope you like this article, and you can share your comments with us!  

The Mobile Zone is brought to you in partnership with Strongloop and IBM.  Visually compose APIs with easy-to-use tooling. Learn how IBM API Connect provides near-universal access to data and services both on-premises and in the cloud.

android studio,android developer,mobile,iot,android

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