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Google launches Android Studio 3.4 with Android Q Beta emulator, and R8 replaces Proguard

Google today launched Android Studio 3.4, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE), with “a small but focused set of new features that address core developer workflows for app building & resource management.” That includes an updated Project Structure Dialog (PSD), R8 replacing Proguard as the default code shrinker and obfuscator, a new app resource management tool, and an updated Android Emulator with Android Q Beta support. Android Studio 3.4 also promises “over 300 bug & stability enhancements.”

You can download the new version for Windows, Mac, and Linux now directly from developer.android.com/studio. If you are already using Android Studio, you can get the latest version in the navigation menu (Help => Check for Update on Windows/Linux and Android Studio => Check for Updates on OS X).

This release is part of Project Marble, an fancy name for an initiative Google announced late last year to improve Android Studio. “We know that for an IDE to be delightful, and to keep you productive, it has to be not just stable — it has to be rock-solid stable,” noted Google group product manager Karen Ng, at the Android Developer Summit back in November. “The main focus for our next few releases will be quality, which we’re calling Project Marble, reducing the number of crashes, hangs, memory leaks, and user-impacting bugs.”

Google released Android Studio 3.3 in January. The version number 3.4 would suggest this isn’t a significant release, but if you build for Android, you should probably take a peek at the list below.

Android Studio 3.4 features

Here’s the rundown of what version 3.4 brings to the table:

  • Resource Manager: A new tool to visualize the drawables, colors, and layouts across your app project in a consolidated view. In addition to visualization, the panel supports drag & drop bulk asset import, and, by popular request, bulk SVG to VectorDrawable conversion. These accelerators will hopefully help manage assets you get from a design team, or simply help you have a more organized view of project assets.
  • Import Intentions: Recognize common classes in Jetpack and Firebase libraries and suggest, via code intentions, adding the required import statement and library dependency to your Gradle project files. This optimization can be a time saver since it keeps you in the context of your code. Moreover, since Jetpack libraries are modularized, Android Studio can find the exact library or minimum set of libraries required to use a new Jetpack class.
  • Layout Editor Properties Panel: One single pane, with collapsible sections for properties. Additionally, errors and warnings have their own highlight color, we have a resource binding control for each property, and we have an updated color picker.
  • IntelliJ Platform Update: Android Studio 3.4 includes Intellij 2018.3.4. This update has a wide range of improvements from support for multi-line TODOs to an updated search everywhere feature.
  • Project Structure Dialog (PSD): A user interface front end to manage Gradle project files. The new PSD allows you to see and add dependencies to your project at a module level. Additionally, the new PSD displays build variables, suggestions to improve your build file configuration, and more. You do not have to upgrade your Gradle plugin version number to take advantage of the new PSD.
  • R8 by Default: R8 is the replacement for Proguard. R8 code shrinking helps reduce the size of your APK by getting rid of unused code and resources as well as making your actual code take less space. In comparison to Proguard, R8 combines shrinking, desugaring, and dexing operations into one step, which ends up to be a more efficient approach for Android apps. R8 is now the default code shinker for new projects created with Android Studio 3.4 and for projects using Android Gradle plugin 3.4 and higher.
  • Android Emulator Skin updates & Android Q Beta Emulator System Image: Inside of Android Studio 3.4 we released the latest Google Pixel 3 & Google Pixel 3 XL device skins. Also with this release, you can also download Android Q Beta emulator system images for app testing on Android Q. Google recommends running the canary version of Android Studio and the emulator to get the latest compatibility changes during the Android Q Beta program.

Android Studio 3.4 also includes the usual performance improvements and bug fixes on top of the new features (full release notes). Google didn’t share its plans for the next version.

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