Google launches Android Studio 2.0 beta – features multi-touch, better app indexing

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Ahead of the upcoming final release, Google has released the next major version of its Android Studio IDE for developers to put through its paces and help to eliminate any lingering bugs ahead of its full debut. Available in the Beta release channel, Google says this version of Android Studio 2.0 "is near stable release quality and should be relatively bug free." 

To be expected from a major release, there are some important enhancements in this release which should make the lives of Android developers much easier. New features include: 

  • Instant Run - Enables a faster code edit & app deployment cycle. 
  • Android Emulator - Brand new emulator that is faster than most real devices, and includes a brand new user interface. 
  • Google App Indexing Integration & Testing - Adding App Indexing into your app helps you re-engage your users. In the first preview of Android Studio 2.0 you could add indexing code stubs into your code. With the beta release you can now test and validate your URL links in your app all within the IDE. 

'Instant Run' is the most notable addition of the new IDE – providing a near-instantaneous method of running your latest code live, and without delay, on the Android emulator to see how it will run on a variety of test devices. Instead of waiting for the whole app to rebuild itself and restart after a code change, Android Studio 2.0 only adjusts to changes that were made. 

The Instant Run feature has been available since an earlier build in the more unstable 'Canary' testing channel. A new feature in this build is 'Cold Swap' which allows your app to quickly restart where there are major structural changes to its code base such as those to the class hierarchy, static initializers and method signatures. 

Existing 'Instant Run' features include: 

  • Hot Swap - When only method implementations (including constructors) are changed, the changes are hot swapped. Your application keeps running and the new implementation is used the next time the method is called.  
  • Warm Swap - When app resources are changed, the changes are warm swapped. This is similar to a hot swap, except that the current Activity is restarted. You will notice a slight flicker on the screen as the Activity restarts. 

The emulator itself has a new UI, and supports multi-touch for apps that use gestures like pinch and zoom to navigate around. To use the multi-touch feature, you have to hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and right-click your mouse to center the point of reference, or click & drag the left mouse button to zoom. 

Finally, this version of Android Studio 2.0 introduces better app indexing to help put your app in front of more users of Google search. App Indexing enabled the addition of indexing code stubs into an app's code, but new support for direct URLs to specific content within apps will allow users to go directly to it from Google search results on their Android devices. 

You can download Android Studio 2.0 Beta in the Beta release channel. 

What do you think about the improvements made to Android Studio? Let us know in the comments.

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