Android Studio 3.5: Project Marble goes into stable

Posted by Jamal Eason, Product Manager, Android

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Have you ever wished that Android Studio was faster, more performant, and more memory efficient? If so, then download Android Studio 3.5 today. This stable version of Android Studio is a different kind of release where the Android Studio team took a step back from large feature work for eight months and instead focused on product quality to further accelerate your day-to-day app development. We called this initiative Project Marble, and it focused on making the fundamental features and flows of Android Studio & Emulator rock-solid by looking at three core areas: system health, feature polish, and bugs. Working on Project Marble was is in direct response to feedback from you and we continue to welcome any further feedback you have.

To improve system health in Android Studio, we first created a new set of infrastructure and internal dashboards to better detect performance problems. We did this to establish a safety net to catch issues that are typically difficult to catch with regular unit testing. Then, the team addressed a range of issues from fixing over 600 bugs, 50 memory leaks, 20 IDE hangs, and improving XML & Kotlin typing latency. Additionally, for the Android Emulator, we decreased the CPU and memory impact on your development machine. Project Mable was a focused period to work on the IDE and Android Emulator system health but it also uncovered a set of quality areas we will continue to work on going forward.

On top of memory and performance, we spent time polishing and fixing core user facing feature areas. For example, we took a look at the app deployment flow to a device, and completely re-architectured and replaced Instant Run with Apply Changes so that it’s more reliable and trusted. With Apply Changes, we no longer modify an APK during your build but instead, we use runtime instrumentation to redefine classes on the fly. If you want to quickly edit code and see code changes, you should try Android Studio 3.5 today.

Lastly, over the course of Project Marble we fixed bugs which landed in Android Studio in 3.5. We are thankful to those who filed bug reports and engaged with us on social media. We are especially thankful for the over 40 external contributors in the Android community that diligently worked with us in filing and resolving critical quality issues in Android Studio 3.5. Project Marble is not the end of quality work for the Android Studio team, but this latest stable release is a major milestone of our on-going quality investment into the IDE. With the quality work and new infrastructure put in place during Project Marble, we hope that you are even more productive in developing Android apps when you download and use Android Studio 3.5.

There are many quality changes we made to Android Studio 3.5. To see the full list of changes, see the Android Studio 3.5 beta release blog and release notes. But you can dive into some of the highlights of the changes below:

System Health

System health improvements during Project Marble was a combination of memory performance, typing & user interfaces freezes, build speed, CPU usage, and I/O performance. For each of these areas we created new ways to detect issues during development and a better process to analyze your feedback both from opt-in analytics and bugs that you file.

Our system health work has many under the hood improvements but a few notable changes include:

Auto-recommend Memory Settings

With Android Studio 3.5, the IDE will recognize when an app project needs more RAM on a machine with higher RAM capacity and will notify you to increase the memory heap size or you can adjust the settings yourself under Appearance & Behavior → Memory Settings.

Memory Settings

Memory Settings

User Interface Freezes

During the Project Marble development timeframe, we found in our opt-in product analytics that XML code editing was notably slower in the IDE. With this data point, we optimized XML typing, and have measurably better performance in Android Studio 3.5. You can see below that editing data binding expressions in XML is faster due to typing latency improvements.

Code Editing Before

Code Editing Before – Android Studio 3.4

Code Editing After – Android Studio 3.5

Build Speed

For Android Studio 3.5 we made many speed improvements but a significant change is the addition of incremental build support to the top annotation processors including Glide, AndroidX data binding, Dagger, Realm, and Kotlin (KAPT). Incremental support can make a notable impact on build speed. Learn more here.

Disk I/O File Access Speed

For users on Microsoft® Windows®, we found that disk I/O access times were notable higher on average than other platforms. Digging into the data, we found the default configuration of anti-virus scanners did not optimally exclude build output folders. In Android Studio 3.5, we detect this situation and help guide you through the optimal setup.

System Health Notification

System Health Notification – Anti-virus Check

Feature Polish

In addition to improving system health we relooked at a few critical users flows to address bugs and user friction. The areas we looked at ranged from data binding, layout editor, ChromeOS support to project upgrades. One notable area of improvement to highlight is the app deployment flow:

Apply Changes

During the Project Marble time period, we removed Instant Run and re-architectured and implemented from the ground-up a more practical approach in Android Studio 3.5 called Apply Changes. Unlike Instant Run, Apply Changes does not modify your APK which means it is realbile and has a predictable behavior. To support the changes, we re-architected the entire deployment pipeline to improve deployment speed, and also tweaked the run and deployment toolbar buttons for a more streamlined experience.

Apply Changes Buttons

Apply Changes Buttons

App Deployment User Flow

App Deployment User Flow

To recap, Android Studio 3.5 has hundreds of bug fixes and notable changes in these core areas:

System Health

  • Memory Settings
  • Memory Usage Report
  • Reduce Exceptions
  • User Interface Freezes
  • Build Speed
  • IDE Speed
  • Lint Code Analysis
  • I/O File Access
  • Emulator CPU Usage

Feature Polish

  • Apply Changes
  • Gradle Sync
  • Project Upgrades
  • Layout Editor
  • Data Binding
  • App Deployment
  • C++ Improvements
  • Intellij 2019.1 Platform Update
  • Conditional Delivery for Dynamic Feature Support
  • Emulator Foldables & Google Pixel Device Support
  • Chrome OS Support

Check our the Android Studio release notes page for more details and read about deep dives into several areas of Project Marble in the following Medium blog posts & Google I/O talk:

Opt-In & Feedback

The specific areas and the approach we took to optimize Android Studio for Project Marble were all based on your feedback and metrics data. The aggregate metrics you can opt-in to inside of Android Studio allow us to figure out if there are broader problems in the product for all users, and the data also allows the team to prioritize feature work appropriately. There are are a couple pathways to help us build better insights. At a baseline, you can opt-in to metrics, by going to Preferences /Settings → Appearance & Behavior → Data Sharing.

IDE Data Sharing

IDE Data Sharing

Additionally, throughout the year, you might see user sentiment emojis in the bottom corner of the IDE. Those icons are a lightweight way to inform the Android Studio team on how things are going and to give us in-context feedback, and the fastest way to log a bug and send to the team.

IDE User Feedback

IDE User Feedback

Getting Started

Download

Download Android Studio 3.5 from the download page. If you are using a previous release of Android Studio, you can simply update to the latest version of Android Studio.

To use the mentioned Android Emulator features make sure you are running at least Android Emulator v29.1.9 downloaded via the Android Studio SDK Manager.

As mentioned above, we appreciate any feedback on things you like, and issues or features you would like to see. If you find a bug or issue, feel free to file an issue. Follow us — the Android Studio development team ‐ on Twitter and on Medium.

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