In the wake of Android 11 Developer Preview, Android Studio 3.6 is now available on the stable channel, which means developers can start using it with confidence for their projects. This brings a number of useful features and upgrades, including a new “split view” in the design editor to develop and preview XML layouts faster.
Another cool new feature is the support for multiple screens in the Android emulator. The automatic detection of memory leaks promises to facilitate debugging. You can check out the full functionality of the Android Developer Blog or get the highlights below.
Split view and modification
Perhaps the most exciting new feature in Android Studio 3.6 is Split View for design editors. This allows you to see the XML code side by side with the rendering preview. It’s a small thing, but it makes life a lot easier to see the effect that code changes have right away (and vice versa). The view you choose will also be saved on a case-by-case basis, which means you can easily load your preferred configuration based on the file you are editing.
As we discuss design, we should also note the new color picker which makes it much easier to choose and fill in color values without typing in values. It is available through the XML editor and design tools.
Regarding development, a few new changes should make life easier for Android developers in Android Studio 3.6.
Linking views is a particularly welcome inclusion, which will provide security when compiling when referencing views. When this option is enabled, you generate a binding class for each module XML layout file. This will effectively replace the need for findViewByID: you can easily reference any view with an ID without risking null pointer exceptions or class cast exceptions. This could be very useful and reduce a lot of master keys.
Other new updates include the release of the IntelliJ 2019.2 platform with better boot times and a new service tool, as well as support for Kotlin for more Android NDK functionality. Updates to the Android Gradle plugin include support for the Maven Publish Gradle plugin. This allows you to create artifacts in an Apache Maven repository.
Test and debug
Android Emulator 29.2.12 makes it easier for developers to interact with the location of the emulated device. Google Maps is now integrated into the extended command menu, making it easy to specify locations and create routes.
Perhaps more relevant is the support for multiple virtual screens, which will be useful for those who design for devices like the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
Also read: Development for foldable devices: what you need to know
Leak detection in the memory profiler will detect activity and fragment instances that may have leaked.
Build times have also improved for debugging versions thanks to the use of zipflinger.
More changes in quality of life
This is just a small selection of the updates available in Android Studio 3.6. You’ll also find a host of other small updates when you use the new software: including resumable SDK downloads, which is ideal for those who don’t always have an hour to download the latest system image Android! Enter Android Studio 3.6 here.
Of course, on Canary Channel, you can already get your hands on Android Studio 4.1. What do you think of these new features? What would you like to see coming to Android Studio in the future?