Google today launched Android Studio 2.3, the latest version of its integrated development environment (IDE), with quality improvements and a few new features. You can download the new version for Windows, Mac, and Linux now directly from developer.android.com/studio. 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 released Android Studio 2.2 in September, a massive release. Version 2.3 isn’t as significant, but it’s still worth an update if you build for Android.
Here’s the rundown of what version 2.3 brings to the table:
- Instant Run improvements: The Run action will now always cause an application restart to reflect changes in your code that may require a restart, the new Apply Changes action will attempt to swap the code while your app keeps running, the underlying implementation is more reliable, and the startup lag for Instant Run enabled apps has been eliminated.
- Build Cache: This feature was introduced but disabled by default in Android Studio 2.2. Now enabled by default, the underlying build optimization results in faster builds by caching exploded AARs and pre-dexed external libraries.
- Chains and Ratios support in Constraint Layout: The stable release of ConstraintLayout means you can now chain two or more Android views bi-directionally together to form a group on one dimension, helpful when you want to place two views close together but want to spread them across empty space. ConstraintLayout also supports ratios, helpful for maintaining the aspect ratio of widgets as the containing layout expands and contracts. Also check out the ConstraintSet APIs.
- Layout Editor Palette: The updated widget palette allows you to search, sort, and filter to find widgets for your layouts, plus gives you a preview of the widget before dragging on to the design surface.
- Layout Favorites: You can now save your favorite attributes per widget in the updated Layout Editor properties panel by starring an attribute in the advanced panel.
- WebP Support: WebP images can now be generated from PNG assets in your project to save space (up to 25 percent) in your APK. There’s a new wizard that converts PNG to lossless WebP and also allows you to inspect lossy WebP encoding as well. Right-click on any non-launcher PNG file to convert to WebP or right-click on any WebP file in your project to convert back to PNG.
- Material Icon Wizard Update: The updated vector asset wizard supports search and filtering. It also includes labels for each icon asset.
- Lint Baseline: You can now set unresolved lint warnings as a baseline in your project. From that point forward, Lint will report only new issues.
- App Links Assistant: The new assistant (Tools => App Link Assistant) lets you easily create new intent filters for your URLs, declare your app’s website association through a Digital Asset Links file, and test your Android App Links support.
- Template Updates: All templates which used to contain RelativeLayout now use ConstraintLayout. A new Bottom Navigation Activity template, which implements the Bottom Navigation Material Design guideline, has also been added.
- IntelliJ Platform Update: IntelliJ 2016.2 release, which has enhancements such as an updated inspection window and a notifications system, is now included.
- Android Emulator Copy & Paste: This feature has been added back to the latest Emulator (v25.3.1). The shared clipboard between the Android Emulator and host operating system will allow you to copy text between both environments.
- Android Emulator Command Line Tools: The emulator has been moved from the SDK Tools folder into a separate emulator directory. The “android avd” command has been deprecated and replaced with a standalone avdmanager command. If you create Android Virtual Devices (AVDs) directly through the command line you should update any corresponding scripts — these change will not impact your workflow if you use the Android Emulator through Android Studio 2.3.
This release also includes many stability and performance fixes in addition to the new features (full release notes). Google didn’t mention its plans for the next version.