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Android Studio 2.1 eases path to Android N development

Google is positioning its Android Studio 2.1 IDE, released this week, as a mechanism for building applications for its Android N Developer Preview version, which was launched in March.

Version 2.1 updates wizards, the build system, and emulator. Developers can sample APIs and features like the Jack (Java Android Compiler Kit) compiler, which compiles Java source code into Android dex bytecode, in the Android N preview. "Installing the Android N preview SDK requires Android Studio 2.1," said Reto Meier, Android developer advocate.

The IDE now supports Java 8 language features in Android N, including lambda expressions and method references. It improves Instant Run, although the Jack compiler currently does not support it.

Compilation and build times have been improved as well. "In previous versions of Android Studio, a single line of Java code change will cause all the Java sources in the module to be recompiled," said Jamal Eason, Android product manager. "Now, in Android Studio 2.1, incremental Java compilation is enabled by default to reduce compilation time by compiling only what is needed."

Google is improving build times by using in-process dex, converting class files to dex files within the Gradle daemon process, Eason said. "This avoids the costly processing operation of creating separate dex processes. To use this feature, you will need to increase the amount of memory available to the Gradle daemon to at least 2GB (1 GB is the default). "

Version 2.1 also includes a number of bug fixes and stability improvements, especially for users of the Android N preview SDK, Meier said.

Android Studio is Google's official IDE for building Android mobile applications. It's based on the IntelliJ Idea IDE and features a Gradle-based build system.

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