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Google I/O is Google’s official annual conference where every Android enthusiast can expect Google to announce new updates to Android OS and Google’s devices. At the Google I/O 2019 event, the tech giant unveiled its upcoming devices – Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL and Nest Hub Max and announced exciting and new updates on Android Q Beta with improved security and privacy as well as a new dark mode feature. In this post, we will have a full recap of what every Android and QA engineer should know.

New Devices & Operating System

As mentioned earlier Google announced three new devices and the Android Q operating system, which means Android developers and QA engineers need to consider those devices while building and testing apps sooner than later. The newly added devices are

(UPDATE: As of May 16th, 2019 both Pixel 3 & 3a XL are available on Bitbar Device Cloud for all paying customers. Sign up for a monthly plan and test your app today)

While Android Q along with its official name will be released later this year, the beta version is available now for download on the Google Pixel devices over the air. The new operating system comes with the following features.

  • Enhanced Security and Privacy
  • Foldable and supports 5G Network
  • Dark Mode
  • Gestural Navigation

It’s highly recommended that Android developers also keep many other new features in mind while developing new apps.

Kotlin-First Android

Kotlin has already been added as an official programming language for Android app development. Kotlin is taking precedence over Java and C++ but Google will keep supporting those languages for the time being.

One of the biggest advantages of Kotlin is that developers can write less code, which in turn means less to test and less to maintain. Kotlin has got support for Jetpack API that brings the benefits of even less code. Google also announced a new Jetpack module for benchmarking which will allow easy performance testing of Android apps. Some libraries like CameraX have been announced to support the development of photo-based apps. The modern and reactive style programming library Jetpack Compose has been added to support reactive style programming.

Enhanced Android Studio

Last year Google announced many features of Android Studio but there were some performance issues reported. This year the Android Studio team stopped all the feature development and fixed all the issues to make Android Studio in a good shape again. The new version of Android Studio 3.5 beta is available to download here.

In-App Update

Sometimes there might be a situation where you need to force an app to update because of critical bugs or other urgent reasons. In this situation, the In-App Update feature helps users get their apps to the latest version. With this feature, we can force-update users’ app with just a single line of the code. The developers need to add updateIfrequired() method and the In-App Update feature is available in the play-core library. This feature is also available in the Jetpack with Kotlin.

Lighthouse Performance Budget and Chrome

Chrome has got some performance improvement as well. One of the major enhancement include the lazy loading of images with an additional attribute loading=”lazy” and Chrome will take care of everything. Lighthouse is a Google developer tool to audit the websites for improving the quality of the websites. It’s important to have these quality checks as part of the CI process so that Google announced the ability to set the performance budget feature in the Lighthouse. This feature can help web teams to detect non-functional issues while the website is under development.

AI/ML Frameworks

Google I/O 2019 launched many AI/ML-based features like Google assistance, Google Lens, etc. There are some major enhancements in the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning frameworks. Google created frameworks like ML Kit, TensorFlow or Auto ML for machine learning but this year they announced Cloud TPU Pods beta to store the resources. These pods can be used to speed up the performance of machine learning flows.

Firebase: Mobile App Development

Firebase provides a platform for developing apps by providing infrastructures and services required for app development. This year Google added Auto ML to the Firebase. With just a set of the data, you can train the machine learning models without any code. Once the model is published on the Google platform, it’s available to use in the apps. This can be achieved by a few lines of code. Another Firebase feature announced this year is Performance Monitoring for the web. Now web developers can use the performance monitoring features to catch performance issues earlier.

Flutter Support for Web

Google announced the first stable version of the Flutter last year and since then Flutter started booming in the market. Flutter allows developers to create iOS and Android apps with the same source code. This year Google announced the Flutter support for web. And now you can develop iOS, Android and web apps with single source code.

Watch Google I/O, 2019 Keynote:

 

Conclusion

Google I/O Developer Keynote gives plenty of insights into the tools and technologies that Google will be delivering. It’s clear from the keynote that Kotlin and Firebase would be the key products that would be used by most of the developers. The machine learning tools are getting easy to use and Flutter is also emerging as a new technology to develop the cross-platform apps.

Shashikant Jagtap

Mobile DevOps Engineer