Stephanie Cuthberston, Google’s Android Manager refers to it as “the generation of Android APIs which will play a great role in enhancing app development speed and quality”. Still speculating about what it could be? “The Android Jetpack”. If you are an Android app developer, Google I/O 2018, the launch of Android Jetpack couldn’t have missed your attention.
What is the Android Jetpack?
Android Jetpack is a diverse compendium of libraries and architectural components backing the faster development of mobile apps. It supports backward compatibility enabling app developers to launch their apps on new and older versions simultaneously. This approach which was considered tedious and complicated previously has been simplified via convenient libraries in Jetpack. Developers are free to choose individual components eliminating the need for a complete switch over to Jetpack. It comes along with enhanced templates making app development much more accessible and easier without depending on boilerplate coding techniques.
The need for Android Jetpack:
So why do you think Android app developers will need Jetpack when we already have support libraries? Jetpack streamlines and synchronizes support libraries in a commonplace. Jetpack combines support libraries with other major components which are:
Components of Jetpack are unbundled libraries and not a part of the existing Android support library. However, these may be used based on specific requirements.
There are four major Jetpack components which further include their own capabilities:
It provides cross-cutting functionalities like testing, Kotlin language support and backward compatibility.
- AppCompat: Used to degrade to older versions of Android.
- Android KTX: Used for precise code in Kotlin language
- Multidex: Supports apps which include multiple DEX files
- Test: This is an Android testing framework used for unit and runtime UI tests.
It is used to design and develop robust, testable and maintainable apps.
- Data mining: Enables declarative binding of data and UI
- Lifecycles: Allows better management of activities and fragmentation of lifecycles
- LiveData: Triggers notifications when there are changes in the database
- Navigation: Takes charge of in-app navigation
- Paging: Enables feeding data on-demand basis from a data source
- Room: Unrestricted access to SQLite database
- ViewModel: Effective management of UI-related data in a lifecycle-conscious way.
- Work Manager: Appropriately handles Android background jobs
It supports the development of feature-rich apps which can be tested and maintained at ease.
- Download manager: Efficiently schedules and handles large volumes of downloads
- Media and playback: Supports backward compatibility APIs for media playback and routing which also includes Google Cast.
- Notifications: Allows backward compatible notifications API with support for wear and auto.
- Permissions: This includes compatibility APIs which are used for request and confirmation of app permissions
- Sharing: It allows a share action with respect to the app’s action bar.
- Slices: This allows developers to create and display flexible UI elements based on app data outside the app.
UI components focus on widgets and helpers to improve customer experience and ease the use of an app.
- Animation and transitions: Helps to move widgets and transition in between app screens
- Auto: It includes components which help in developing apps for Android Auto.
- Emoji: Allows updated emoji fonts even on older platforms
- Fragment: They constitute the basic units of UI.
- Layout: These widgets use various algorithms.
- Palette: Helps pull out useful information from color palettes.
- TV: Enables building of apps for Android TV.
- Wear OS by Google: These components support the development of apps for Wearables in particular.
What is new in Jetpack?
There are four new components added in Jetpack which are:
- Work Manager: This new library has been introduced by Google intended to serve constraint-based actions that is which necessarily need guaranteed execution. This particular library has effectively replaced SyncAdapters. This component has enabled developers to accomplish their tasks without seeking any assistance from Google play services. It also allows developers to develop a work graph and query the state of work based on requirement.
- Paging: This component helps improve the performance of apps which involve processing of huge chunks of data. This can be controlled either from a local storage/network/ combination of both. It works well with LiveData and RXJava.
- Navigation: The navigation component helps developers effectively structure UI and build single-activity apps. It also provides extended support to fragments. Defining transition rules, navigation behavior and connection of UI widgets have been streamlined due to the addition of this component.
- Android KTX (kotlin extension): Jetpack’s components will also be supported by Kotlin’s features and its capabilities.
- Slices: With slices, developers are able to showcase UI bits of their apps in search results. This component helps the users to get a glimpse of the app content. Developers are allowed to include images, text, videos, and interactive controls too.
How effectively does it impact mobile app development?
- Increase in productivity: Components of jetpack work independently along with the advantage of Kotlin language features. All this together contributes towards increasing productivity.
- No more boilerplate codes: Android Jetpack eases complicated tasks like navigation, lifecycle management and background tasks which help developers to focus on core responsibilities and actual need of the application.
- Guarantee of high-quality application: Android Jetpack effectively integrates competitive app design practices which eliminate possibilities of memory leaks and crashes. The feature of backward compatibility is yet another added advantage included.
The impact of Jetpack on app developers
- Developers are at the greatest advantage as Jetpack helps in untangling complicated development tasks. It helps decode and break down chunks of data with its paging component. This has contributed to simplifying processes of data rendering and fetching.
- Kotlin is an easy yet comprehensive language. Jetpack now supports Kotlin opening up better possibilities for developers. The inclusion of architectural components, support library have further surged up usability the quotient.
Equipped with these capabilities, Google expects app developers to incline more on churning out unique apps with state-of-the-art features rather than spending time on testing its functionality- the ultimate intention being to pave the way for innovative, feature-rich apps.