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A summary of the most important aspects of Android Studio 3.6

On Feb. 24, 2020, Google released the newest version of Android Studio, labeled version 3.6. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t paid attention to this update and will just do it whenever your projects need it or when you finally pay attention to the update pop-up.

Don’t worry, keeping up with the changes in mobile development is hard — we can barely learn the new SDK features, let alone know what comes in every new update to our IDEs. The good thing is some features of each update will make the update worth it and will make our lives easier.

If you’re curious about what you’ll find in this update, or maybe want to decide if it’s worth downloading, read along. I’ll be making a summary of the most important features in Android Studio 3.6.


Layout Editor in Android Studio 3.6

The first thing I noticed when I opened the project of my Android Alert Dialogs in Kotlin – Tutorial – Part 3: Dialogs with lists (Image 1) was that the layout editor has changed.

Image 1. Layout editor

For the first time in Android Studio, you can see your code view and XML view side by side without switching and trying to figure out whether the change affected the view or not. Personally, I rarely use the “Design” editor, but maybe with this new feature, I will get more used to it.

You also get some floating buttons for zooming in and panning the view in the bottom right, which are easier to reach than they were in previous versions.

For the first time in Android Studio, you can see your code view and XML view side by side without switching and trying to figure out whether the change has affected the view or not. Personally, I rarely use the design editor, but maybe with this new feature, I’ll get more used to it.

You also get some floating buttons for zooming in and panning the view in the bottom right, which are easier to reach than they were in previous versions.

You also get some floating buttons for zooming in and panning the view in the bottom right, which are easier to reach than they were in previous versions.


Resource Manager

Another graphic tool usually underestimated in Android Studio is the resource manager. This tool can be opened via View > Tool Windows > Resource Manager, as shown in Image 2.

Image 2. Resource Manager access

Resource Manager is a tool window for importing, creating, managing, and using resources in your app.

https://developer.android.com/studio/write/resource-manager

This feature was introduced in Android 3.4 in April 2019, but originally only supported drawables, colors, and layouts. After the update, it supports a varied range of sources.

Click on the three horizontal dots to the left of the Resource Manager window (Image 3), and you’ll see all the possible items you can manage.

Image 3. Resource Manager

View Binding in Android Studio 3.6

Before this Android Studio 3.6 release, the preferred way of binding was data binding. If you intended to use view binding, you had to use the Canary version of Android Studio, as mentioned on this raywenderlich.com tutorial.

To use View Binding, you need to upgrade to the Android Gradle Plugin version 3.6.0-alpha11 or later. This version of the Android Gradle Plugin requires Gradle 5.6.1 or higher. Also, you need to use Android Studio 3.6 Canary 11+ or newer because older versions of Android Studio won’t open a project that uses the Android Gradle Plugin version 3.6.0-alpha11 or higher.

https://www.raywenderlich.com/6430697-view-binding-tutorial-for-android-getting-started

After downloading Android Studio 3.6, view binding is already available without a major overhaul.


Emulator Updates

Emulator-location improvements

Android Studio 3.6 includes support for the Android emulator 29.2.7. This emulator version has, as a core feature, the advantage to set the location in two ways: single points and routes.

This is a great feature for apps requiring GPS support, which in the past needed third-party libraries to be able to test features.

New emulator templates

This new version of Android Studio also includes virtual devices and project templates for automotive screens, which will allow you to customize or target in an improved way in the automotive industry.

This new version of Android Studio also includes virtual devices and project templates for automotive screens, which will allow you to customize or target in an improved way in the automotive industry.


Resumable updates

One of the best improvements I could find in Android Studio 3.6 is the fact you can resume updates.

There are many reasons why this could be handy. For example, if you’re in a place with a bad internet connection or if you forget and turn off the computer.

Before this, you needed to restart the update all over again, which was annoying. Fortunately, this won’t happen again.


Leak detector

In mobile apps, detecting memory leaks is particularly important. Even though smartphones have more space available nowadays, a memory leak can easily make an app crash and cause an unpleasant experience to the user.

You can enable this from the Android Memory Profiler. After clicking on the down arrow for “Dump JavaHeap,” as shown in image 4 below.

Image 4: Leak detector in Android Studio 3.6

Conclusion

Those are the most important features in Android Studio 3.6. This is a major update that’s worth downloading and will help us become better and faster developers.

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Until next time!

Evana Margain Puig

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