Android 12 Beta 1 among feast of fun for Android devs

Google has let loose the first beta of Android 12 along with a raft of updates aimed at developers working with the Android platform.

Availability of Android 12 Beta 1 was announced at the Google I/O developer conference, to enable early development, testing and developer feedback. Touted as one of the biggest design updates to Android ever, it has introduced new APIs and brought user safety features like permissions for Bluetooth and approximate location, plus enhancements to performance like expedited jobs and start up animations, and more interactive widgets.

Google announced several new privacy features that are planned for the second Android 12 Beta release, including Privacy Dashboard, microphone and camera indicators, and microphone and camera toggles. More details on Android 12 Beta 1 are available from the Android developer site.

Also released was a beta of Android Studio Arctic Fox (2020.3.1), the next version of the official Android IDE. As its name suggests, this is based on the Intellij IDEA 2020.3 IDE, and delivers all new features and improvements of that platform, plus an updated user interface for the Memory Profiler, and WorkManager Inspector to help understand background task relationships, plus other enhancements to boost productivity.

Developers can also expect Jetpack Compose to hit v1.0 in July. A new toolkit for building native user interfaces on Android, Jetpack Compose has been in development for a couple of years, with a beta release made available earlier this year.  Compose is set to reflect the design changes that Google is introducing in Material You, the update of Material Design. As well as new Material components this will include further support for developing for large screens.

Other developer related updates include the availability of Kotlin Symbol Processing, an API for compiler plugins to parse Kotlin code directly, enabling performance up to twice as fast with libraries like Room. New releases for Jetpack include Jetpack Macrobenchmark (Alpha) to capture large interactions that affect app startup, and a new Kotlin Coroutines API for persisting data more efficiently via Jetpack DataStore (Beta).

For wearables, Google also announced a unified platform built jointly with Samsung that combines the best of Wear and Tizen, including new Jetpack APIs for Wear tailored for small screens.