Skip to main content

What can Google do to help developers use Android's new features?

Developers have a tough job and there are ways that Google could make it easier.

We just got our first very early peek at Android 12 and like every version that came before it, there will be new features. Some will be big features while some will be small, but as always, there will be one or two that each of us would really like to see added to our favorite app.

But for most of us, even on the best Android phones, it will become a waiting game. Some independent developers will be able to include support for Google's new stuff rather quickly and that's a testament to hard work combined with a bit of luck that made it a little easier to implement. But know that most developers that still maintain the best Android apps will be working hard to make the new stuff work without breaking all the existing stuff. That's what developer previews and beta testing are for.

But it's hard for a lot of apps to find ways to do this. There are some really good reasons and the biggest is that until Samsung delivers the update, the latest Android features really don't matter because Samsung, for all intents and purposes, is Android when it comes to consumer sales. If the vast majority of your users can't use a feature, there's no real rush to get it working. Even then, there are a couple of things Google could do to make the whole process easier.

The way to find out what a developer needs is to ask a developer.

I'm not an Android developer, so I rounded up the team and we reached out to people who are Android developers and asked them what Google could do to help everything be ready to go once a new version of Android arrives. For the most part, the same two answers came back over and over: better documentation with examples of how to get things working and better ways to test or even do some of the work directly from an Android device.


If a big tech company like Facebook is building an Android app, they can get access directly to Google to get questions answered and might even be part of the process during feature development. This sounds really unfair to smaller development houses and independent developers, but the big guy gets more attention than the little guy because Android wouldn't be as attractive without the big apps.

Google does have a Developer Relations team to help anyone who wants to write an Android app, but it's not the same as traveling to Google's HQ and working with the team. That's why documentation is so important. The team at Smart Launcher told us how important documentation is.

I think case-specific documentation would drastically improve the time requested to implement new features. Google generally provides clear documentation when it comes to how to implement a feature in an app, but sometimes a feature is composed of more than one part, and not all the parts are equally documented.

Also, Google should probably require manufacturers to properly support new features or to publish some documentation if they apply any changes. The implementation of a new feature is much harder if we have to test the same features on every device.

This sentiment, especially the part about requiring a phone maker to document how it implements any new feature was echoed by several other smaller development teams and even some larger names like the team at Todoist who said that "nobody has time to test every feature on every single phone model." With thousands of different models, they're right.

Another thing Google could do surrounding documentation is to keep it updated. APIs change and evolve over time and the documentation needs to evolve with it. Google can sometimes be forgetful.

Online tools

The screenshot above is the online console for a registered Google Cloud developer. Everything needed to build an application based in Google's Cloud is there except the imagination part. You can browse and use Google APIs through a browser window, look for a pre-built solution for an existing function or feature, even set up storage access all from a Chrome tab.

Google's Cloud Developer Console is a great online tool.

There's plenty of documentation to get you started and you can even pay for a virtual machine to run your app in the cloud if it needs access to something like the Cloud Compute Engine. It's a full-featured integrated development solution to get most everything you need up and running quickly.

Compare that to the Play Store Developer Console. Keep in mind that most Android apps are run locally and not in the cloud, but still, there is a serious lack of features when compared to the cloud dev console. That's because Google also makes what's called Android Studio, which is a local IDE (integrated development environment) used to build Android apps. But the biggest difference is that one can be accessed from a mobile device and the other can't.

That's a pretty big deal to Nayelle (see her apps here) who develops home screen customization tools like live wallpapers and widgets. Nayelle would love to see a better dashboard and a way to store app templates in it so more work could be done from a phone.

The developers at Miniclip would also love to see better online tools that could bridge the gap between the Android developer's site and the Google Play Developer Console.

Android has a unique set of standard APIs for both native and hybrid apps and you'll also find specific APIs used through Google Play Services. Seeing a searchable database of documentation for it all in one place would save development time.

There's that documentation word again, but this time it's not the lack of it but the way it's exposed. It would seem to me that the Play Store dev console would be a perfect place to search through the relevant documentation, especially since you'll need to tell Google how you're using APIs before you publish an app in some instances.

The Android emulator isn't as good as the phone in your hands.

Finally, I can say this from experience during my brief foray as an Android app developer, a quick way to make minor changes to code and have Google refactor and rebuild an app in the cloud that you could download and test would mean you can better troubleshoot and hunt bugs. Android Studio is turning out to be a really nice IDE, but the emulator just isn't able to find bugs the same way you can on your own physical phone.

When Android 12 comes to your phone, most apps will still work just fine. But the devil is in the details and to keep supporting an app, a developer has to keep it updated for newer versions, which takes a good bit of work. Keep that in mind the next time you visit the Play Store!

Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

How to watch England vs New Zealand: Live stream 2nd Test series cricket on

With the first Test ending in a draw, the series is on a knife edge at Edgbaston, as Joe Root's side look to put off the field controversies to one side and claim a much needed win against the Kiwis. Don't miss a single ball of the 2nd Test with our England vs New Zealand live stream guide below. The series has been somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of offensive historic tweets posted by Ollie Robinson who made his debut in the opening Test but has since been suspended. With the controversy still brewing amid interventions from politicians and accusations leveled at other members of the team, Root has a battle on his hands to keep his side focused on the game ahead. One positive for Root coming into the game is that they'll be playing in front of a near capacity crowd at Egbaston, with the overwhelming majority of the expected 18,000 spectators set to be cheering on the home side. The tourists have been delivered a huge blow coming intot his final match, with s

6 things Apple stole from Android at WWDC— and one that Google should steal

Every year, Apple and Google trade ideas for their newest versions of iOS and Android, respectively. But this year, during Apple's WWDC 2021, it seems like Apple purloined more than a few ideas that Google's integrated into Android over the last few years. Millions of iOS users won't get their hands on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 until later this year, so until then, we don't know until then how the new features will fare in the real world. For now, here's a tongue-in-cheek look at six features Apple, um, borrowed from Android with its latest software releases. Jump to: iPad widgets and app drawer Live Text Apple Maps AR navigation iOS notifications New Siri capabilities Apple Photos Bonus: What Google needs to steal iPad widgets and app drawer iPad OS 15 introduced two big new updates for the iPad home screen today: widgets and the App Library. If you think this sounds awfully familiar, there's a good reason for that. 2020's iOS 14 introduced both

Best Roku Stick deals May 2021: $30 off Roku Ultra, Streambar and more

Transforming nearly any TV into a smart TV is affordable and easy with a Roku streaming stick. These tiny devices plug into your TV's HDMI port to unlock access to a world of streaming services, live TV channels, and other apps that will never leave you without entertainment. While prices are rather comparable to its main competition, the Amazon Fire TV Stick , Roku's devices have a few interesting features you won't find on a Fire stick. Roku Ultra - HD/4K/HDR/Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos | $31 off at Amazon The Roku Ultra is the fastest, most powerful Roku streaming device so far, and it's even compatible with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for a more cinematic experience. It has a better wireless range than other models as well. Today's deal saves you over $30 off its regular price. $69 at Amazon Once you've plugged in your new Roku streaming device, you can download the Roku app and use it as a remote or even plug headphones into your phone and listen to

EU calls out Google, Amazon, & Apple for 'unfair competition' in IoT market

The report blames the lack of interoperability in the consumer IoT sector on the prevalence of proprietary technology and lack of common standards. What you need to know The European Commission has published the preliminary results of its inquiry into the consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector. The report has identified a few potential concerns, including prevalence of proprietary technology and accumulation of large amounts of data by "providers of smart device operating systems." The European Commission is expected to publish its final report in the first half of 2022. The European Commission today shared the initial findings of its consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector inquiry. The inquiry was launched in July last year as part of its digital strategy. Along with confirming the rapid growth of the Internet of Things market, the report highlights a few potential concerns with regards to the "current functioning of consumer IoT markets, as well as to th