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Android developers were able to glimpse Android Studio 2.2 for the first time during Google I/O in May 2016. Months later, in September, programmers were given access to a free version brimming with improvements, a major step forward for this Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
Among the new features were all of the advantages that are part of the Android 7.0 operating system. In other words, developers can create new features for the Android Nougat device from the IDE itself. The following list explains the latest major changes to Android Studio.
Instant Run is an Android Studio tool that enables developers to apply changes to existing methods and application resources in a running application without having to compile a new APK. In this way, any changes to the code are quickly displayed.
To compile and run an app you only need to click the play (Run) icon. The IDE takes care of the operation via Gradle, a code construction automation tool based on other tools such as Apache Ant and Apache Maven. Gradle launches the running application after requesting a destination for the implementation, either an emulator or a connected device (a cell phone plugged in to the development workstation).
With this new feature in Android Studio 2.2, when programmers click Run or Debug, Instant Run applies the changes in the code and resources to the running application. It interprets changes in a smart way without having to restart the app or to compile the APK (Android Application Package), the component packaging system for the Android platform (e.g. JAR format for Java platforms).
Android developers can include the new expected features for the Nougat 7.0 operating system in their Android Studio programming plan. These new features have an impact on the IDE itself:
● Changes to code finishing: Android Studio includes some new features linked to the way programmers encode, structure, compile and run code that go beyond the changes in Instant Run. Here are some of examples of the advances in this IDE from version 2.2: integration of code and GitHub templates to help developers compile common app functions and import specific examples of code; integration of Lint to detect performance and compatibility issues within the code; improved emulator performance and compatibility with C++ and NDK; and support for Google Cloud Platform, which facilitates integration with Google Cloud Messaging and App Engine.
● Redesign of notifications: as it happened with iOS 10, notifications for Android devices have changed. The operating system is now equipped with new templates, grouped notifications, direct response on the alerts themselves and new customized views from two APIs.
● Customization of Quick Settings: after Android 7.0, developers can use an API to create quick access tiles for key features within third-party apps. After Android Studio 2.2., this customization is included within the IDE.
Android Studio 2.2 and successive versions included some changes and improvements to the way developers handle aspects linked to design or users interact with the applications’ graphic interface:
● Design editor: creating interfaces is simpler than before after Android Studio 2.2. Using the new panel it is possible to adjust the visual attributes of each widget in a less traumatic fashion. In the IDE design editor, programmers can compile as many designs as they wish by dragging widgets to a visual editor without having to write the XML code manually. It is compatible with Android 2.3 and successive versions.
● Flexible interface construction: Android Studio 2.2 includes a flexible distribution system for dynamic user interfaces, which are designed by nesting elements. This is very similar to the prototype construction tools, in design phase, that are currently in the market.
In Android Studio 2.2 and successive versions, inspecting the content of APK files to understand the exact distribution and size of each component is a simpler process.
The analyzer is also an interesting option for programmers because it allows them to compare two APK files that have evolved over time.
Android Studio 2.2 has some features in beta version that allow us to see how Google will keep improving the tool.
The first of these features consists in improving the cache for application development so as to reduce the speed with which programmers can develop their products by up to 200%. To do this, you only need to add the file android.enableBuildCache=truea su gradle.properties.
The second feature makes it possible to create user interface tests for an application without having to write test code. The tool creates a test scenario; logs the interactions that take place on a device; records these interactions; and automatically generates a user interface test for execution and application testing.
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