The final developer preview of Android O, Google’s latest version of the mobile operating system, is out. Even though there are no major changes with this release, app developers should start testing their apps on Android O as early as possible. To do so, they should download a device system image, install their app, test for its performance, and update the code if necessary for publishing, using the app’s existing platform targeting.
Android O Preview
It is a program that gives you access to the tools to make your apps compatible with the latest version of Android. And the best part is, it’s free! You can get it for your Google Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus5X, Nexus 6P and the Nexus Player (yes, that’s the list for now) by following some simple steps. The preview includes everything you need to check the performance of your existing app on a variety of screen sizes, network technologies, CPU/GPU chipsets, and hardware structures.
Accessing the Android Developer Preview
The first step to access the preview is to update to the latest version of Android Studio. It allows you to get the following through the SDK manager:
- Developer preview SDK and Tools,
- Developer preview Emulator System Image,
- Developer preview Emulator Image for Android TV, and
- Developer preview support libraries.
The preview also includes hardware images that can be downloaded for different devices for testing and developing apps on physical devices. These images can be downloaded and flashed to your test devices manually, as many times as needed.
Build an App Compatible With Android O
Getting your apps compatible with the new Android O is what all app developers are concerned about right now. The following steps will guide you to make sure that your app works on Android O.
1) Get an Android O Image: You need to download an Android O image and flash it to your device. It is to be noted that installing a system image on a device erases all data from the device, for which taking a back up of all existing data is advisable.
2) Review Changes: Android O comes with a variety of system and API changes, most of which will affect all apps or even break down the apps regardless of the version of Android they target. All developers should review these changes and reconstruct their apps to support them wherever applicable. Some of the major behavior which changes the targeting of all API levels and system of Android O is
- Background execution limits.
- Background location limits, which affects Fused Location Provider (FLP), Geofencing, and Location manager.
- Wi-Fi Manager.
- App shortcuts.
- Alert windows.
- Web form autofill.
- Bluetooth, and much more.
3) Test: You need to install the app on the device and run the tests. You need to check on the behavior changes (if any) in the app and work through all app flows.
4) Update: There is a high possibility that your app will behave differently than expected. You should keep your worries aside and try to make effective changes in the code to meet the requirements and resolve the issues. Recompilation of the same API level may be helpful rather than targeting Android O.
5) Publish: After you are done with the changes made, re-check if other modifications are needed. If the app runs smoothly, you are ready to publish it. When you are ready, you can publish your APK updates in your alpha, beta or production channels. One should make sure that it runs smoothly on older versions as well.
Note: Before publishing, one should ensure that the app is targeting API 26. It is also important to provide feedback about the functionality and features of Android O so that it gets incorporated into the final release, which is expected to be out by Q3 2017.
Android O welcomes apps compatible with its new features, and developers should get ready to play with its new features and improvements. Even though the APIs are not final, we can still have the idea about what is going to be there.
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