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Android developers craving new tools, hardware at Google I/O

Mikael Ricknäs | June 25, 2014
Developers have Wear smartwatches, a stable version of the Android Studio development environment and a lightweight programming language on their wish lists ahead of the Google I/O conference.

Developers not attending I/O can learn more about Wear and Glass thanks to live streamed sessions on both topics.

One of the big announcements last year was Android Studio, a new IntelliJ-based IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that promises to optimize and simplify app development compared to the existing Eclipse IDE.

"I've been using it daily for almost a year, and it has made a huge difference for me," said Marius Mårnes Mathiesen, head of Android development at Norwegian consultant Shortcut.

For example, the build tools in Android Studio — which are based on Gradle — are lot more robust than the ones in Eclipse, and a lot easier to understand, according to Mathiesen.

The IDE is still tagged as an early access preview, but has proved to be fairly stable.

"At the time Android Studio was released, I was surprised to see few obvious bugs and shortcomings. Over the last 10 months I have struggled with about five issues or bugs, mainly while upgrading to significant new versions of either Android Studio itself or the Gradle plugin," Mathiesen said.

In general, the Android development tools have come a long way, but there is still room for improvement. Developers are asking for a more lightweight programming language for Android apps than Java.

"Apple developers just got a chance to use Swift when building iOS apps, and I'd love to see Google supporting either Go or Dart on Android," Mathiesen said.

The languages were initially developed at Google and are now open-source projects. The goal with Dart is to replace JavaScript and Go aims to combine ease of programming with speed. Both are heavily featured on the I/O schedule.

The conference takes place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.


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