Google's Android Studio development environment is available in a beta version that makes it easier to create apps for smartwatches and TVs.
The beta was announced at the Google I/O developer conference along with preview versions of Android L and the associated SDK (software development kit).
The preview version of Android Studio, an IntelliJ-based IDE (Integrated Development Environment), was one of the big announcements at I/O last year. Google's goal is to optimize and simplify app development compared to the existing Eclipse IDE. The company didn't say when a final edition would become available, but the beta is a step in the right direction. Studio is "making great progress toward a full release," according to a blog post.
Earlier this week Marius Mårnes Mathiesen, head of Android development at Norwegian consultant Shortcut, said he had been surprised that the preview version included so "few obvious bugs and shortcomings," indicating that it won't take too long for a full release to arrive.
The Studio build system now supports the creation of multiple APKs (application package file) for different types of devices. The beta also includes an app wizard and layout editor for Android Wear and Android TV, which will make it easier for developers to create applications for the two new platforms, Google said.
Wear is an extension of Android that's been customized for smaller screens. The first two products based on the platform, the Gear Live from Samsung and LG's G Watch, will start shipping in the beginning of July.
Android TV lets developers create native apps and games for set-top boxes, consoles and televisions. Smartphones and tablet applications will also be able to send content to Android TVs thanks to the cast feature, which today is used by the Chromecast USB stick.
One thing still missing from the Studio beta is support for the Android NDK (native development kit), which developers can use to build parts of their apps using languages such as C and C++. But it will be added soon, according to Google.
The beta can be downloaded from the Android developer website.
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