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Google releases Android Studio 2.2 Preview with a new layout designer

At Google I/O 2016 the search giant has released a preview of Android Studio 2.2 with a new layout designer, the constraint layout, and much more.

Published onMay 19, 2016

April was a bumper month for Android Studio releases. First came the release of Android Studio 2.0 and then only a couple of weeks later Google unleashed Android Studio 2.1 with support for Android N. Now at Google I/O 2016 the search giant has released a preview of Android Studio 2.2.

As you probably know Android Studio is the official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for creating Android apps. It includes everything you need to design the user interface of your app, plus all the tools you need to code the functionality. Designing the UI can be one of the trickiest parts of the app development process because of the wide diversity of Android screen sizes and resolutions.

One of the big new features in Android Studio 2.2 is the rewritten layout designer and its new constraint layout. There are two ways to build a UI in Android, you can roll-up your sleeves and mess with the XML or you can use the visual layout designer. Android Studio 2.2 want to improve the latter and help you avoid the former. The new layout designer helps you design for Android’s many different device types. Once the layout is done, Android Studio will automatically calculate the constraints for you. The result is that your UIs will resize automatically on different screen sizes!

Android Studio tutorial for beginners

Another neat new feature of Android Studio 2.2 is the addition of Espresso testing recording. The Espresso testing framework provides APIs for writing user interface tests to simulate user interactions within a single target app. Now with Espresso testing recordings you can start to test your app manually while recording the interactions in Espresso code, which can then be played back to test to UI again and again.

Other improvements include expanded Android code analysis plus the IDE has been aligned with IntelliJ 2016.1, the latest version available from JetBrains. There is also better support for non-Gradle based build systems for those developers writing apps using the NDK. Android Studio 2.2 now supports CMake and NDK-Build.

There will be a livestream from Google I/O today (May 19) called “What’s new in Android Development Tools”. The session will provide an in depth tour of the Android development tools and take a closer look at everything new in Android Studio 2.2.