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InfoQ Homepage News Google Embraces Large-Screen Android Devices at DevSummit 21

Google Embraces Large-Screen Android Devices at DevSummit 21

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At its recent AndroidDevSummit'21, Google announced a number of new technologies aimed to help developers build better apps across different devices and device factors. Those include Material You for Jetpack Compose, support for large screen with Android 12L, extended Jetpack library, and more.

Material You was introduced a few months ago as part of Android 12 to freshen up the Android UI design paradigm and bring it up to date with the current mobile landscape, which requires growing flexibility and customizability for a variety of users and devices. Alongside it, Google also announced the first public release of Jetpack Compose, Android's modern toolkit to define declarative native UI. At the moment of their release, though, Material You was not available for Jetpack Compose.

Google is now bridging that gap with the first alpha of Compose Material 3, which provides a collection of newly-styled components and themes, including support for dynamic color. Material You is part of a new 1.1 release of Jetpack Compose, still considered beta quality, that also brings features like stretch overscroll animation, improved touch-target sizing, and experimental lazy layout animations.

As mentioned, Jetpack itself is also being extended, adding support for multiple backstacks in Navigation, simplified handling of Android 12 background task restrictions in WorkManager, and DataStore 1.0, a replacement for SharedPreferences. In addition, Jetpack adds auto-migration and multi-map relations to its SQLite-based persistence library Room, as well as a new benchmarking tool called Macrobenchmark.

Both Jetpack and Jetpack Compose include APIs that allow developers to add support for large screens and new form factors to their apps. Google says there are over 250M large-screen devices in use, including both tablets and foldable devices, which make for the fastest growing segment of the market. For this reason, Google has readied a new version of Android to take advantage of the bigger screen estate of those devices, bringing a new feature drop for Android 12, Android 12L, to the market.

With 12L we've optimised and polished the system UI for large screens, made multitasking more powerful and intuitive, and improved our compatibility support for apps so they look better right out of the box.

For example, on devices larger than 600dp, many system views adopt a new two-column layout to display more information and combine different widgets. Similarly, to make it easier to switch to a different app and control split-screen mode, Android 12L includes a new bottom taskbar. Android 12L brings new APIs for developers, with Google's promise that they did not break any current features.

Android 12L is available as a developer preview with a public release planned early next year.

As a final note from the Android Dev Summit, it is worth mentioning Google is working to bring Compose support to Wear OS, which is also getting new features such as the Tiles API and Wath Face Studio.

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