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Android Dev Summit 2019 just wrapped up, and I have to say I had a really great time. I love the 100% Android focus, and I appreciate the direct access to Googlers, devices, tools, and announcements.

Unlike Google I/O, Android Dev Summit is not an overwhelmingly large affair. It’s big enough to provide loads of valuable content and amazing developers, but small enough that you can actually take it all in.

It’s been a while since I’ve left an event with so many ideas and such inspiration to play with new tooling/libraries/etc; and I don’t think I’m alone. I had the pleasure of chatting with many wonderful devs who were equally excited by what they saw, heard, discussed, and experimented with over these past two days.

So, what were some of the big takeaways?

Big Takeaways From Android Dev Summit

Two big announcements stick out to me; and I’m really quite excited by them both.

  1. Jetpack Compose Developer Preview
  2. MotionLayout Editor

I should probably also mention Android Studio 4.0 here as well. Android Studio 4.0 is a critical part of working with either Compose or the MotionLayout editor.

Jetpack Compose

I wasn’t expecting such a usable implementation of Jetpack Compose to be available this soon after Google I/O. This was a very pleasantly surprise. I spent much of Android Dev Summit Day 2 working through the new Jetpack Compose codelab, asking questions at the Compose sandbox, and just hacking away on my own seeing what the new UI system can do.

There are plenty of rough edges still, and there’s certainly going to be an ongoing learning curve for all of us, but in my opinion, Jetpack Compose looks very promising.

Composable previews available in Android Studio 4.0

So far, the most compelling feature, by far, has been the composable preview tool with which we can preview the results of a composable function without deploying the code to a device or emulator. Creating a preview for a composable is trivial, and allows developers to view the results of a composable code change with seconds. On my high-end laptop, it often felt almost instantaneous. This speed is a breath of fresh air when compared to the traditional edit/deploy/verify workflow of the existing Android UI toolkit.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how Jetpack Compose evolves, and matures over time. In particular, how will Compose work with, or replace, the functionality of tools like ConstraintLayout & MotionLayout which have become quite powerful?

MotionLayout Editor

Speaking of MotionLayout, the announcement that the MotionLayout editor is now available in Android Studio 4.0 was a very pleasant surprise. The allure of the MotionLayout editor is great. Being able to create complex animations with the use of a visual keyframe editor is a total game changer and could really empower developers to embrace meaningful motion within their applications.

I haven’t yet tried the new editor, so I can’t comment to how well it works, but after talking with several people over the past two days, I know I’m not the only one looking forward to creating some animations.

Additional Takeaways

While Jetpack Compose and the MotionLayout editor are the two things I’m most excited about, their were plenty of other interesting announcements and takeaways from the past two days of Android Dev Summit.

  • A newly instated Android Developer Challenge
  • Room 2.2 releasing with support for Kotlin Flow, improved relationship support via the @Relation annotation, schema default values, and an incremental annotation processor
  • Hands-on experience with new foldable devices and tips/guidance from both Googlers and Samsung employees on how to best optimize for large screen devices
  • An updated Associate Android Developer certification, now with Kotlin, which could be a great way for junior developers to test out their skills and improve their resume.
  • A strong/opinion stance on Android development best practices through the “Modern Android Development” recommendation.
  • Android Studio support for .kts files
  • Future updates, or evolution, of Dagger to help simplify dependency injection on Android.

Final Thoughts

I’ll end with a few final thoughts that have come up over the course of the past couple of days in talking with many terrific Android developers (and wonderful human beings in general.

The Android community is awesome! Every time I go to any kind of Android conference, I seem to meet the nicest, friendliest, most supportive people.

While Android can be a frustrating, complex, and hair-pulling ordeal at times, I really do feel that developers both at Google and in the Android community generally want to see the platform improve and evolve for the better. It can be easy to fixate on what’s wrong, what could be improved, or what’s not changing fast enough, but I think there’s also a lot of positive things happening with Android as well. In particular, Google really has invested heavily and engaging with the developer community and in soliciting feedback in how they evolve the platform. That move on their part is something I really appreciate.

What will Android look like in a year? In 2 years? In 10 years? I have no idea, but while new tools and libraries comes and go, fundamental skills transfer anywhere. Investing in yourself and developing a strong general software engineering skillset will help you both in Android, and what ever is next.

Android Dev Summit Resources

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