The Inside Scoop on Internal App Sharing

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The Inside Scoop on Internal App Sharing

 

            Testing your apps is a crucial component in a successful release.  Every time you issue updates to your app you run the risk of introducing bugs that can ruin a user’s experience.  We do what we can with unit and UI tests to check and limit these bugs, but some still manage to slip by (no one’s perfect!). So how can we deal with these bugs before they actually get into the hands of a user?

 

Internal App Sharing:

 

            Whether you’re a solo developer or working for a larger company, Internal App Sharing can help with this.  It essentially allows you to upload a second version of your app onto the Google Play Store.  It’s a private upload though that’s only available to people you share the URL with.  What this does is allow you to keep your production app intact while simultaneously letting a select group of people test the new version.

It’s somewhat similar to the beta feature that has been available for quite some time.  But the key difference here is that the app is private. It’s only available to those friends/family/coworkers that you choose to share it with.  It offers a great way for you to limit your testing to people you know. Very aptly names Internal App Sharing!

 

Some Caveats:

 

            Internal App Sharing was first released to us at Google I/O this year so it’s still very new.  After playing around with it and reading the documentation there are a few things to note.  First off, there is a maximum of 100 users that can download the app using this link. So if you are crazy popular then you won’t be able to let all of your friends test! Realistically this probably isn’t a big deal as 100 testers should be plenty to see major bugs that are introduced, but all the same the limit exists.

 

Another limit that might impose a little more on you is that the app you upload has to have a matching package name.  For most cases this will always match since it’s the same app, but if you have different schemes you’re building your app with (debug vs release) that offer different features you’ll need to make sure nothing is different in those package names. Other than these limits though it’s a fairly straightforward process with a positive experience.

 

I currently use Internal App Sharing and I would recommend that you check it out as well!  It’s a great way to share a build of your app with changes to those closest to you before officially releasing anything to the public.  What are your thoughts on the feature?  Let us know in the comments below.

Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

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Android Q Swipes Into Beta 6

Android Q has been out since March steadily progressing through its betas.  This week Q hit its last step in the refinement process with the release of the final beta 6.  The official release is “a few weeks away” at this point, but if you’re interested in exploring Q early there’s no better time than the present!

Changes With 6:

Spoiler Alert: there aren’t that many changes in the new version.   Final APIs for developers were locked down in beta 4, so 5 and this new version are mostly bug fixes and small tweaks.   But one big change is with gesture navigation.  The back gesture has received a bit of a makeover.  Here’s what Google had to say about it:

“We’ve made further refinements to Gesture Navigation in Beta 6 based on user feedback. First, to ensure reliable and consistent operation, there’s a 200dp vertical app exclusion limit for the Back gesture. Second, we’ve added a sensitivity preference setting for the Back gesture.”

To non-developers the 200dp may not make sense, but the concept is fairly simple.  Apps have the option to opt out of the back button gesture navigation, but only to an extent.  They’re only allowed to stop the back gesture for 200 “density-independent pixels”.  The idea behind this is to make things easier if you’re in an app that involves horizontal scrolling.  We don’t want a user to accidentally go back when they’re just trying to scroll through a list.

Feedback on Gestures:

Another somewhat confusing part of the left-side gesture recognition is that some apps have drawers you can open from this side.  On trick you can use to view these instead of accidentally going back in the OS is swiping to the right but also up at a 45 degree angle.  Not really something you should have to distinguish between as it feels like bad design, but that’s how things currently are.

Google says that feedback has played a lot into the gesture changes they’ve made with Q, and hopefully it works out in a manner that feels fluid and easy to use.  Every beta seems to have had a different version of gestures, so Google only has so long to get it all right!

There are currently dozens of different navigation styles in the Android ecosystem thanks to the fact that not all phones are made in house by Google.  But this is about to0 change with the release of Q.  Google announced at I/O this year that gesture navigation will be standardized and that other phones must adhere to it in order to run Android OS.  This will be a very welcome change for anyone who has felt lost swapping from one phone to another.  But it’s also high stakes to make sure that things are done right.

Getting Q Today:

System images for this beta are currently available for all Pixel devices.  If you have one then you’ll be running on Q soon enough, but if you’re looking to play around right away then go set it up and let us know what you think in the comments below.  We also still don’t know what Q’s snack name is.  It’s probably the most important part of any software, so stay tuned for that!

 

Android Dev Summit Is Coming!

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Android Dev Summit Is Coming!

If you’re an Android junky then you’re probably still coming off of this years Google I/O high.  We saw some really cool stuff we can leverage in our apps to create great user experiences.  But the development fun is far from over.  It’s already time to mark your calendars for another big upcoming development conference: Android Dev Summit 2019.

Last Year’s Summit:

Last year at Android’s annual developer conference we saw some big changes.  These included things like App Bundles in place of old APKs to reduce the size of your app.  On average app sizes were decreased 8% and some saw much bigger changes (30+ percent!). The idea behind an App Bundle is to only download the resources needed for your specific phone/version instead of downloading everything and then using what you need.  We’ll actually be going into detail on it in another post soon.

That was a big size change, but a big code change was focused around Jetpack.  Another topic we’ll dive into further with some tutorials if you haven’t applied it yet is updating your legacy support libraries to AndroidX. Basically your app functions the same way, but moving forward things are a lot cleaner on the Android support library!

What’s Coming This Year?

Those are some good topics that you should definitely be leveraging in your apps today, but the purpose of this post is to ask what may be coming this year.  And if Google I/O is any indicator of it, then the answer is a lot.  There’s not an official roster of topics posted yet, but we’ll likely be seeing deeper dives into some of the topics covered at I/O such as Android Q gestures and dark mode. And now with Kotlin as the preferred language for Android development I’m sure we’ll see some technical dives into what’s happening under the hood.

Along with some of these unique sessions come other perks for those of you attending in person.  There will be more hands on experiences with product demos, and you’ll be able to meet with members of Android’s team and discuss topics in more detail.  If you’re interested in attending then here’s a huge plus: ITS FREE!  Yep no purchase necessary for a ticket, but you do haver to be accepted by invite, so there are no guarantees.  Still, applications are open until August 15thso I’d highly recommend applying!

We’re Almost There:

There are a plethora of changes that could get whole sessions focused around them (permission changes, internal app sharing, optimizations).  And if you want to make sure you’re up to date on it then keep an eye on our page or on the official Android Dev Summit page.  If you can’t make it in person (Cali isn’t just around the corner for some of us), then don’t worry.  All the sessions will be live streamed on the site as well.

What are you most excited about for Android Dev Summit 2019? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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