Google I/O 2017, an annual conference organized by Google, which took place May 17-19 in Mountain View, as usual, heated up the atmosphere in the mobile, web, and enterprise community. Some of the changes were expected and waited out, and some were rather surprising. Discussing all of them would take ages, so let us go through some of the most interesting (from our point of view) news announced during the conference.
During the keynote, Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared information that Android passed 2 billion active devices. This is an enormous growth, and with the development of technologies like Android TV, Android in the Car, or Android Go this number is expected to increase in the future.
Most of the conference attendants probably came there for information about the latest Android version- Android 8.0 O, with the information about its nickname ahead. Disappointingly, we didn’t get that information (though most of the speculations claim it will be ‘Oreo’), however other updates were shared. The most visible of them will be the decrease in boot time, battery drain and overall boost in performance. The quite useful feature is picture-in-picture mode which enables you to e.g. use your device while watching a film on Youtube in the overlay window. For developers it can be quite challenging as the activity in PIP mode is considered as paused (onPause() method is called). What’s more, a good practice in PIP mode is to hide all of the components except the video content. A few fun features from Android O were also released containing new emoji, smart text selection of forms autofill.
Initially announced during Google I/O 2016 Instants Apps, were finally made available for public use. The concept of Instant Apps assumes that you can run a native application without previous installing it, by e.g. browsing its URL. This approach saves the time needed to load the app, and space that would be used by an installation. This feature can be used in apps that don’t need to keep any data e.g. apps in museums, cinemas or cafes. During last year Instant Apps were tested by Google partners who noticed a large increase of users engagement. What can be interesting for developers, is that to support Instant Apps, you do not have to create a new project and rewrite your the entire application. You can adjust your current project to support this feature.
For Android developers, the most exciting news was probably the announcement of the official support for Kotlin programming language. Kotlin, which is a language developed by JetBrains (people who gave us IntelliJ IDEA on which Android Studio is built), already has many enthusiasts amongst Android developers. It seems to get even more popular as in the latest version of Android Studio you will get the possibility to call Kotlin code from Java code (no need to modify your existing project) and vice-versa. After seeing some samples of Kotlin code, we are really excited to use it in our projects!
Some great changes were also made in Android Studio 3.0 Canary. Apart from Instant Apps and Kotlin support (including dynamic reformating Java files to Kotlin files!), we can expect greater support for Java 8, enhanced Layout Editor, custom fonts from XML and downloadable fonts, build speed improvements, and Android Profiler which is a new better version of Android Monitor tools providing e.g. CPU, Memory, and Network monitor in real-time. These are just some of the improvements, and there are much more!
A notable part of the conference was dedicated to Google Assistant that gains more and more functionalities and expands to more platforms. The big news is that from now on Google Assistant is available also for iPhones. It can be very interesting to see how Google Assistant is competing with Apple’s Siri. Google also released official SDK, so now developers can integrate the assistant with their apps.
These are just a few interesting news regarding Android platform, but there are a lot of other technologies that we just have to mention as Google Lens (machine learning supported image processing which enables you e.g. to remove obstacles from photos, recognize places from images or connect to network basing on the photo of router credentials), Daydream platform improvements (Virtual Reality technology), development of Google Home (which will be able to e.g. make phone calls), TensorFlow (machine learning software, that can be used for images or speech processing, and augmented reality), Android Go (Android lightweight version for low-end devices), or Smart Replies in Gmail.
Google revealed a lot, but it seems that there is still a lot to come in the nearest months (the final name of Android O !), so we will definitely keep an eye on next updates, and keep you up to date.
For streams from Google I/O 2017 you can click here