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Google I/O 2022 Recap: Top 5 Takeaways for Android Devs

Google I/O 2022 was full of exciting announcements. Read our recap to discover the top 5 changes and updates that every Android developer should know!

Google I/O is a yearly event where Google makes its biggest software announcements. Google I/O 2022, which ran from May 11–12, didn’t disappoint; it offered lots of exciting new changes. If you’re wondering what the biggest news was, our Google I/O recap covers five noteworthy announcements that no Android developer should miss, including:

  • Improvements to Jetpack Compose and Android Studio.
  • Advancements in wearable apps and development for big screens.
  • Cool features that make Android development even more fun.
  • And even a replacement for your wallet!

Read on to learn about all of these cool new developments, which will surely impact your next Android project.

1. Jetpack Compose

Jetpack Compose, which is Android’s new UI toolkit for building better apps faster, got its fair share of attention at the 2022 Developer Keynote.

Jetpack Compose 1.0, the first stable and production-ready version of the toolkit, was released less than a year ago. This year’s event showed that Compose is enjoying a fast adoption rate, with over 100 of the top 1,000 apps in the Play Store now using Compose.

This shows that Google is really serious about the Jetpack Compose project. Developers should consider hopping on the declarative UI trend because it’s evident that companies are gradually adopting Compose.

Jetpack Compose 1.2 Beta

Jetpack Compose 1.2 Beta was announced at the Developer Keynote event. This update has a lot of improvements and additions that make Compose easier to use. These include:

Downloadable fonts: This new feature provides APIs that give you easy access to Google Fonts, including a fallback font setup that’s easy to use and implement. One major benefit is that downloadable fonts give you smaller APK sizes; multiple apps can even share the same fonts through a provider. This lets you save storage space and internet bandwidth for your users.

Lazy Grids: These were only an experimental feature in earlier Compose versions, but they’re now stable in Compose 1.2. This is a big improvement to creating lazy layouts in Compose because grids provide flexible layouts that adapt to different screen sizes.

Android Studio: Google has added lots of tooling for Compose 1.2 in the Android Studio Beta and Canary builds. These tools help track performance, making developing with Compose simpler. For example, you can now see how often a composable is recomposed using the Layout Inspector. You’ll read more about these features in the Android Studio section of this article.

Compose for WearOS Beta

Jetpack Compose has enjoyed massive praise from the developer community, and at Google I/O 2022, Google announced that they’ve brought it to wearable products. Compose for WearOS is now available in Beta. This is a developer preview, letting you dive in and explore the possibilities Compose offers for WearOS.

Google also announced the Google Pixel Watch. According to Google: “It’s the first watch built inside-out by Google”. It will come out this fall alongside Pixel 7. It features a new WearOS experience, according to Google. With the release of Compose for WearOS Beta and the Pixel Watch, developers can now explore the possibilities Jetpack Compose has to offer on a wearable.

Health Connect is a joint collaboration between Google and Samsung that Fitbit, Google Fit and Samsung Health are all adopting. The Health Connect API lets you share health data on Android devices securely. With the user’s consent, Health Connect gathers data from all those apps and stores it in an on-device datastore, giving the user full insight into all their fitness data. Currently in Alpha and available through the Jetpack Health API, it will launch for users later this fall.

Some of us were expecting an announcement about Compose for TV, which didn’t happen, but that’s OK. Just kidding — it’s not OK. If I don’t hear about Compose for TV next year, I’ll switch to Flutter.

2. Android 13 Beta

The second Beta of Android 13 was released at Google I/O 2022. It comes with new features and behavior changes, like privacy and security handling.

Productivity

Android 13 builds on Material You to offer an intuitive and adaptive UI for users. New features include new custom media controls and themed app icons — which also means that you can tint the app icons in supported Android launchers to blend in with the color of the device’s wallpaper and themes.

Another cool new productivity feature is that you can now set different languages per app. So let’s say you’re from Spain and most of the people you chat with are Spanish, but you work at an English firm. You can now set WhatsApp to be in Spanish while keeping Trello in English.

Privacy and Security

Google has made some pretty clear indications that Android developers need to change the way they’re handling permissions. For example, Android 13 features a new permission for posting notifications called POST_NOTIFICATIONS. If you’re used to using READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE, that permission has now been deprecated.

It also includes other new permissions, like NEARBY_WIFI_DEVICES.

Furthermore, Android 13 comes with a new photo picker that provides a UI that blends in with your app. With the new photo picker, the user doesn’t have to give an app access to their entire library. When the photo picker launches, they simply select the specific multimedia they want to share with the app.

This gives them more privacy by limiting access to their entire library — and also means that they don’t need to declare runtime permissions.

There are a lot of privacy and security changes, so be sure to read about the new ways of handling permissions in Android before you start building your next app.

That’s Just a Few of the Android 13 Changes

There were a lot of other additions in the Android 13 release, including a more predictable back gesture, HDR video capture, spatial audio support and battery resource management features, like notifying users if apps are consuming too much battery. Reading up on these new features could be beneficial to your next app development venture.

3. Large Screens and Foldables

At Google I/O 2021, Google released Android 12L, which was a leap ahead for Android’s performance on large screens and foldable devices. This OS introduced features like column-based layouts for the system menu, multitasking and a split-screen mode, to mention a few.

Google continued on that promise, offering big changes for large screens and tablets this year. Enhancements in Android 13 make designing and building adaptive UIs a delightful experience.

Google provides three starter layouts, also called canonical layouts, which help you kick off projects with large screens in mind:

  • List-detail view
  • Supporting panel
  • Feed

These projects are starting points for common use cases.

Also take note of some new breakpoints that help you adapt your UI based on the available space for different devices:

  • Compact
  • Medium
  • Expanded

These predefined classes are available in the JetpackWindowManger version 1.1 library.

Other noteworthy libraries that help with building adaptive UIs include the Jetpack DragAndDrop library, which gives you helper classes to make drag and drop easier, and Slidingpanelayout, which helps you combine fragments in an intuitive way.

4. Android Studio

Google announced many new improvements to the toolset for developing Android apps. At the core of them were two new Android Studio releases: Android Studio Dolphin, which is in Beta, and Electric Eel, which is a Canary release.

Google really needs to reveal whoever comes up with these names. They’re so creative and make me feel like I’d write bug-free code 99% of the time when using these builds. :]

Android Studio Dolphin Beta

Android Studio Dolphin has been on Canary for a some time now, but the announcement that it’s moving to Beta was a breath of fresh air for developers. Getting to stable shouldn’t be a long journey for it anymore. Here are some of the major features in this release:

  • New and improved Logcat v2
  • SDK index integration
  • WearOS launch configurations
  • A WearOS pairing assitant and toolbar
  • Gradle-managed devices
  • Compose recomposition in Layout Inspector
  • Compose animation coordination preview

Android Studio Electric Eel Canary

Developers were thrilled with the Live Edit for Compose Demo at Google I/O 2022. With Live Edit, whenever you update your composable, your changes deploy instantly to your device. This lets you preview your changes in real time.

Here’s a list of the features that come with this build:

  • Live Edit for Jetpack Compose
  • Visual Lint for Compose
  • Compose Multi-Preview
  • Device mirroring
  • Resizable emulator
  • App quality insights

You can download both of these new builds from the Android Studio developer site.

5. Google Wallet

Back in 2011, Google announced its first wallet app, which let you store your debit and credit cards and make payments easily. Over the years, it went through different transformations, finally becoming Google Pay in 2018. This year, Google announced a new, revamped Google Wallet. Yes, Google is bringing back Google Wallet… again.

Google’s goal is for this app to replace your trusty physical wallet completely. You’ll be able to store all your debit and credit cards, as well as your IDs, eliminating the need for a real wallet.

They are currently testing this concept in the United States, working with the government to make it possible to store your driver’s license digitally, then share it using NFC or a QR code.

The new Google Wallet app includes preset pass types like loyalty cards, boarding passes, gift cards, vaccine cards and others. It also offers a generic card that you can use for other kinds of passes, like library cards or parking passes.

You can also group multiple passes together. For example, you can group an event ticket with a vaccine card — which is pretty useful. Maybe you really can replace your physical wallet with the Google Wallet app.

For Developers

Here are some key points to note for developers who are using the current Google Pay Passes API:

  • Google Pay Passes API is now called Google Wallet API.
  • The Pay Passes API integration still works, but it upgrades to the Google Wallet API when you launch it.
  • There’s a new Android SDK that allows you to save passes to your app without a backend integration.

Google Wallet will roll out to the world in the coming weeks.

Where to Go From Here?

There were many other important announcements made at this year’s Google I/O event — this article just highlights the five most interesting announcements for developers. To catch up on a more in-depth analysis of Google I/O 2022, watch our Google I/O 2022 Livecast, where our podcast team and members of the raywenderlich.com Android team livestreamed their reactions to the Google I/O keynote event right after it concluded.

If you’re excited about the Jetpack Compose news and want to learn more about it, we have some great resources available:

We’d love to hear your reaction to Google I/O 2022, too! Which of the announcements excited you? Did Google I/O 2022 meet your expectations? Head to the comment section below and share your thoughts. Feel free to add other announcements that are worthy to be on our top five list as well. :]

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