Google today launched Android Studio 2.1, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE), with support for the Android N developer preview and faster Instant Run. You can download the new version for Windows, Mac, and Linux now directly from Android.com/SDK. If you are already using Android Studio, you can get the latest version in the navigation menu (Help => Check for Update on Windows/Linux and Android Studio => Check for Updates on OS X).
Google launched the first Android N developer preview over a month ago, followed by a second preview two weeks ago. In past years, Google has unveiled the next Android version and released the accompanying developer preview at its I/O developer conference, but with Android N, the company is starting much earlier — I/O 2016 is scheduled for May 18 to May 20.
Google also released Android Studio 2.0 earlier this month, so 2.1 is clearly meant for those eager to try Android N. Developers can use the latest versions of the preview SDK, try the new Jack compiler, experiment with Java 8, and gain access to the only official Android Emulator able to run N Developer Preview Emulator System Images.
With the new Jack compiler, lambdas, method references, compile-time type annotations, intersection types, and type inference are available on all versions of the Android platform. Default and static methods and repeatable annotations are available only on Android N.
Instant Run is supposed to dramatically improve your workflow by letting you quickly see changes running on your device or emulator. It shows your changes running “in a near instant,” which means you can continuously code and run your app, hopefully accelerating your edit, build, and run cycles. When you click on the Instant Run button, it will analyze the changes you have made and determine how it can deploy your new code in the fastest way. Instant Run works with any Android Device or emulator running API 14 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or higher.
So what exactly is new with Instant Run? The feature can now update incremental changes to your app code significantly faster, thanks to incremental Java compilation (a single line of code being changed no longer means all the Java sources in the module have to be recompiled) and in-process dex (class files are converted to dex files within the Gradle daemon process to avoid the costly processing operation of creating separate dex processes). For the latter feature, you need to increase the amount of memory available to the Gradle daemon from 1GB to at least 2GB.