Google woos developers as software becomes more important

The new tool launched at Google I/O gets a thumbs up from developers

By , IDG News Service |  

"This is exactly where Apple is so much better and I hope Google can catch up. So far, I have done UI editing in XML and then hoped for the preview to work, but that is quite a pain," Hübner said.

Mullany agreed: "Fragmentation is a significant problem for Android developers and the existing tools for creating Android apps have a pretty mixed reputation. The new Android IDE helps developers visualize their app experience on multiple device types and should help them be significantly more productive," he said.

Users who want to take a look at Studio can download an early access preview from the Android developer website, with the caveat that several features are either incomplete or not yet implemented and users may encounter bugs.

Another feature announced at I/O that caught Hübner's interest was a translation service that lets developers order professional translations directly from the Android developer console.

"A translation service for developers to get their apps out in different languages is a cool service offering. Often translations are really poor if you look at apps," Hübner said.

At first Google will offer the translation service as a pilot program for which developers can sign up from the console. Google has also added application optimization tips, the ability to see how effective ads are, revenue graphs as well as beta testing and staged rollouts to the console. The latter two features also got lots of applause from the keynote audience at I/O.

Google also launched a number of APIs, including ones for more battery-efficient location-based services, geofencing and activity recognition, which are all part of Google's Play services. There is also a new family of APIs specifically for games. Play game service lets developers build games with leaderboards and multiplayer support. Cloud saves provide developers with a storage API to handle game saves and settings, allowing users to move between devices and continue from where they left off, Google said.

But even if Google and its partners dominate at selling devices, Android still lives in Apple's shadow when it comes to app development. According to a recent survey from IDC and Appcelerator, developers who said they were very interested in developing for iPhones accounted for 89 percent of respondents, with 86 percent interested in iPads. Just 77 percent felt the same way about Android smartphones, and 64 percent were very interested in Android tablets.

"Most often we develop both iOS and Android apps, but iOS is still number one in our world. That's what you start with and if there is money left you do Android, as well," said Patrik Book, CEO at Swedish app developer AppByrån.

Google still has some work to do, but Barra's message to developers was clear and simple.

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