The Good and the Bad of Android Studio
Google recently released an early access preview of its new Android Studio. The new goal of this integrated development environment (IDE) is to advance the tools Android developers have at their disposal. The current Eclipse environment has been the source of many developer complaints, and Google decided to avoid these issues by developing Android Studio on top of IntelliJ IDEA. Having developed Android apps using Eclipse, I am very aware of the IDE’s shortcomings.
InfoWorld’s Peter Wayner took Google’s new tool for a spin and shared his thoughts. The first feature that jumped out to Wayner was the built-in intelligence. Code analysis and optimization are a big part of the product. For example, Studio makes use of Android’s API markup to find potential bugs. Methods that can return NULL are marked, and Android Studio is able to display a warning associated with these calls. Wayner ran this analysis, and Studio found more than a hundred ways to prevent potential bugs and make the code run faster.
Another significant improvement is the ability to see an app’s layout on multiple screens at the same time. Android runs on numerous devices, and developing an app that looks good and is functional on as many as possible is difficult to say the least. Studio allows developers to design on multiple screen sizes simultaneously. This one feature can dramatically speed up development time and could be the reason many developers move over from Eclipse.
Unfortunately, not all of Eclipse’s problems have been addressed. The previous emulators are included with this release, thus bringing the identical performance issues that plagued development in earlier versions of Eclipse.
Wayner ran into these problems during his review and adroitly states “Android simulators continue to amaze me with their ability to run Android apps dramatically slower on my six-core desktop than on my tiny, two-year-old not-so-smartphone running Android 2.2."
Overall, Wayner finds Android Studio a significant improvement over Eclipse, even if it is just an early access preview. In fact, it is the status as a preview that excites Wayner the most. The future of the product is robust and feature rich, including support for cloud-based development. It is these types of tools that will provide Android developers the means to create high-quality apps in a very challenging deployment environment.
The following video provides a detailed demonstration of Android Studio features discussed in this story: