Announcing Architecture Components 1.0 Stable

Posted by Lukas Bergstrom, Product Manager, Android Developer Frameworks Team

Android runs on billions of devices, from high-end phones to airplane seatbacks. The Android OS manages resources aggressively to perform well on this huge range of devices, and sometimes that can make building robust apps complicated. To make it easier, we launched a preview of Architecture Components at Google I/O to provide guidance on app architecture, with libraries for common tasks like lifecycle management and data persistence. Together, these foundational components make it possible to write modular apps with less boilerplate code, so developers can focus on innovating instead of reinventing the wheel – and we hope to keep building on this foundation in the future.

Today we’re happy to announce that the Room and Lifecycle Architecture Components libraries have reached 1.0 stable. These APIs are ready for production apps and libraries, and are our recommendation for developers looking for help with app architecture and local storage (although they’re only recommended, not required.) Lifecycles are now also integrated with the Support Library, so you can use them with standard classes like AppCompatActivity.

Although we’re declaring them stable today, the beta components are already used in apps that together, have billions of installs. Top developers, like Zappos, have been able to spend more time on what’s important thanks to Architecture Components:

Prior to the release of Android Architecture Components we had our own ViewModel implementation. We used Loaders and Dependency Injection to persist our ViewModel through config changes. We recently switched to the Architecture Components ViewModel implementation and all that boilerplate went away. We found that we were able to spend more time on design, business logic and testing, and less on writing boilerplate or worrying about Android lifecycle issues.

We’ve also started to use LiveData which hooks directly into the Activity lifecycle. We use it to retrieve and display network data and no longer have to concern ourselves with ​network call subscription management.

– David Henry, Android Software Engineer, Zappos

Architecture Components provide a simple, flexible and practical approach that frees developers from some common problems so they can focus on building great experiences. This is based on core building blocks tied together by guidance on app architecture.

Lifecycles

Every Android developer has to deal with the operating system starting, stopping and destroying their Activities. That means managing the state of components – such as observables used to update UI – as you move through the lifecycle. Lifecycles enables the creation of lifecycle-aware components that manage their own lifecycles, reducing the possibility of leaks or crashes. The Lifecycle library is the foundation for other Architecture Components like LiveData.

LiveData

LiveData is a lifecycle-aware observable that holds data and provides updates. Your UI code subscribes to changes and provides LiveData a reference to its Lifecycle. Because LiveData is lifecycle-aware, it provides updates when its Lifecycle is started or resumed, but stops providing updates when the LifecycleOwner is destroyed. LiveData is a simple way to build reactive UIs that are safer and more performant.

ViewModel

ViewModel separates ownership of view data and logic from lifecycle-bound entities like Activities and Fragments. A ViewModel is retained until its associated Activity or Fragment is disposed of forever – that means view data survives events like a Fragment being recreated due to rotation. ViewModels not only eliminate common lifecycle issues, they help build UIs that are more modular and easier to test.

Room

Nearly all apps need to store data locally. While Android has bundled SQLite with the platform since version 1, using it directly can be painful. Room is a simple object-mapping layer that provides the full power of SQlite with less boilerplate. Features like compile-time query verification and built-in migration make it easier to build a robust persistence layer, while integration with LiveData lets Room provide database-backed, lifecycle-aware observables. Room blends of simplicity, power and robustness for managing local storage, and we hope you give it a try.

Guide to App Architecture and more

Last but not least, we created a Guide to App Architecture that provides core principles applicable to all developers, and specific guidance on using Architecture Components together. Because we’ve heard from you that clear and consistent guidance is important, today we’re updating developer documentation to point to Architecture Components where appropriate. We also have a rich set of videos, codelabs and sample apps available at the Architecture Components site, with more to come.

Watch this space

Although the first set of Architecture Components is now stable, we know there’s more work to do. Over the last few months, we’ve listened to your feedback and made improvements. We also recently launched a new Architecture Component, PagedList, to alpha, in response to your feedback that handling large datasets with RecyclerView is too difficult. This is just the beginning – we have more major components under development that we’re looking to announce in the upcoming months.

Our hope with Architecture Components is to free developers to focus on providing unique new experiences for mobile devices. We’re glad we can finally announce them as stable for production use. We’d like to thank the community, which has given such great feedback along the way, and we look forward to continuing the discussion in the comments of this post. Finally, for those of you who’ve been waiting for this stable launch, get started today.

A strategic partnership with Salesforce to bring the power of cloud to businesses globally

Our partners are incredibly important in helping our customers maximize the value of their cloud investments. Today, we’re announcing a first-of-its-kind strategic partnership with Salesforce that spans Google Cloud and Google Analytics to enable smarter, more collaborative experiences for our customers. As cloud-native companies, our partnership offers a unique opportunity to turn marketing, service and sales data into actionable insights and better business outcomes.

The new collaboration leverages the full value of Google Cloud. Salesforce has named G Suite as its preferred email and productivity provider. In addition, Salesforce plans to use Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for its core services as part of the company’s international infrastructure expansion.

Our teams are working very closely to develop new integrations that will connect Salesforce CRM with G Suite to offer the only cloud-native collaboration platform of its kind. These integrations will enable companies to surface powerful intelligence about your customers from Salesforce directly within Gmail, Sheets, Calendar, Drive, Docs and Hangouts Meet. Here’s some more on what you’ll be able to do:

  • Salesforce Lightning for Gmail: Surface relevant Salesforce CRM data in Gmail, as well as customer interactions from Gmail directly within Salesforce, to service your customers faster. Identify high priority emails and suggest next steps based on the email content to work with customers faster than before.

  • Salesforce Lightning for Google Sheets: Embed Sheets anywhere in Salesforce, and with a single click push content from Salesforce Records or Reports to a new Sheet. Data will automatically update bi-directionally to ensure everyone has the most recent information.

  • Quip Live Apps for Google Drive and Google Calendar: Quip Live Apps will integrate with Google Drive and Calendar, allowing you to access information in a more collaborative, open cloud environment, and embed any list of Drive files, including Google Docs, Slides and Sheets, or your Google Calendar inside Quip. This new combination of Quip and G Suite will create a modern alternative to legacy intranet content services.

  • Salesforce for Hangouts Meet: Access relevant customer and account details, service case histories and more from Salesforce CRM directly within the Hangouts Meet interface. This gives you powerful insights directly in the communications platform to conduct better sales conversations or efficiently resolve customer service issues.

To help take advantage of the combined Google and Salesforce experience, qualified Salesforce customers can receive G Suite for up to one year at no additional cost—restrictions apply, and more details can be found on our site.

We hope this partnership enables more companies to take advantage of the cloud and that the combined solutions will provide an unmatched experience for customers. In fact, our team at Google Cloud uses Salesforce as our preferred CRM provider to engage with our customers in meaningful ways.

As for availability, several integrations between G Suite and Salesforce are already in market, including Lightning for Gmail and integrations with Calendar and Google Drive. The deeper integrations we’ve announced are expected to start rolling out in 2018.

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Frame this: 10 tips for getting great portraits on Pixel 2

With portrait mode on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, you can take pictures of people, pets and even objects like flowers that keep what’s important sharp and in focus, but softly blur out the background. Portrait mode is powered by computational photography and machine learning, which identifies what to keep in focus and what to blur out. We’ve put together some tips to help you make the most of the new feature. Check it out—you’ll be a master portraitist in no time!

Get closer. This is the most important tip for getting great portraits. The less distance between you and your subject, the more likely your photos will have beautiful blur. Compare the photos on the right, below, with those on the left which are taken from farther away.

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Increase distance between your subject and the background. The farther your subject is from the background, as on the image on the right below, the more the background will be blurred. In the left image, the background isn’t far enough away.

PortraitMode_Distance.jpg

Tap that. For the best results, tap to focus the Pixel 2 on your subject, whether a person’s face or an object. Tapping also tells the Pixel 2 what’s most important to you in the photo and adjusts the exposure to prioritize your subject. This is especially useful when your subject has strong light (the sun or windows) behind them. Remember—you can always adjust the exposure by tapping on the screen and dragging your finger up or down.

Put the subject in the front. Seems obvious, right? But you’ll get more blur and beautiful bokeh if your main subject stands out, is prominent, and is clearly located in the foreground, like the image on the right below, not the middleground, as on the left.

PortraitMode_SubjectatFront.jpg

Change your perspective. A unique angle adds visual interest to your photos, as in the examples below. Get low to match the eye level of a child or an animal, or shoot from above to emphasize shapes and graphic components in an object. 

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Remember the rule of thirds. Pixel 2 makes it easy to follow this classic photography recommendation. Tap the grid icon in the camera app to activate the 3×3 grid on your Pixel 2’s screen. Placing the subject along one of the lines or where the lines intersect can improve your composition.

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Keep it simple. A photo’s success can be compromised if too many details compete for attention with your subject. You can avoid this fate by filling the frame and shooting in front of clean backgrounds. And don’t forget to check the outside edges of your photo before you press the shutter button to prevent clutter from protruding into the sides of your picture.

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    Fill the frame.
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    Shoot in front of clean backgrounds (like photo studios do!).
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    Often, less is more. Try including “negative space” around your subject to set it apart.
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    Check the outside edges of your photo to avoid intrusions, like tree branches, signs or this umbrella, from protruding into the sides of your picture.
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    Check the outside edges of your photo to avoid clutter behind heads.

Get in line! This is one of our favorite tips. Look for lines, like bricks or tiles, staircases, or a building’s grid. Lines can enhance the sense of depth in photos and emphasize your subject.

PortraitMode_FollowLines.jpg

Lighting is everything. You can’t always control lighting conditions, but you can find better light. Outdoors, find better light by changing your location or the camera’s orientation, repositioning subjects, or taking photos in the shade (especially at midday). Clouds are your friend, creating a more soft, diffuse light. At night, try lighting up your subject from the side with a friend’s phone in flashlight mode.

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    Take midday portraits in the shade. People in the shade don’t squint or have dark shadows under their eyes—and colors are often more saturated.
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    Windows are a free source of beautiful light when shooting indoors.
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    Overcast days are your friend! Cloudy days reduce harsh shadows and create soft diffuse light.
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    Find lights at night. If you can’t find it in your surroundings, try creating a spotlight with the flashlight app on a second cell phone placed off to the side. Try to avoid the LED flash, which creates harsh lighting and shadows.

  • PortraitMode_Lighting_5.jpg
    Catchlights—the small lights caused by reflections in the eyes—add pizzazz to your portraits. Facing your subject into the light and taking photos from a slightly higher position can help get catchlights in your subject’s eyes.

Ditch the crowds. Portrait mode works best when all your subjects are the same distance from the camera. This is easier with small groups of people.

PortraitMode_Group.jpg

We’d love to see how you put these tips to work. Share your Pixel 2 portraits on social media with #teampixel—we may feature them in one of our upcoming posts!

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Resonance Audio: Multi-platform spatial audio at scale

As humans, we rely on sound to guide us through our environment, help us communicate with others and connect us with what’s happening around us. Whether walking along a busy city street or attending a packed music concert, we’re able to hear hundreds of sounds coming from different directions. So when it comes to AR, VR, games and 360 video, you need rich sound to create an engaging immersive experience that makes you feel like you’re really there. Today, we’re releasing a new spatial audio software development kit (SDK) called Resonance Audio. It’s based on technology from Google’s VR Audio SDK, and it works at scale across mobile and desktop platforms.

Resonance Audio

Experience spatial audio in our Audio Factory VR app for Daydream and SteamVR

Performance that scales on mobile and desktop

Bringing rich, dynamic audio environments into your VR, AR, gaming, or video experiences without affecting performance can be challenging. There are often few CPU resources allocated for audio, especially on mobile, which can limit the number of simultaneous high-fidelity 3D sound sources for complex environments. The SDK uses highly optimized digital signal processing algorithms based on higher order Ambisonics to spatialize hundreds of simultaneous 3D sound sources, without compromising audio quality, even on mobile. We’re also introducing a new feature in Unity for precomputing highly realistic reverb effects that accurately match the acoustic properties of the environment, reducing CPU usage significantly during playback.

Geometric Reverb
Using geometry-based reverb by assigning acoustic materials to a cathedral in Unity

Multi-platform support for developers and sound designers

We know how important it is that audio solutions integrate seamlessly with your preferred audio middleware and sound design tools. With Resonance Audio, we’ve released cross-platform SDKs for the most popular game engines, audio engines, and digital audio workstations (DAW) to streamline workflows, so you can focus on creating more immersive audio. The SDKs run on Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS and Linux platforms and provide integrations for Unity, Unreal Engine, FMOD, Wwise and DAWs. We also provide native APIs for C/C++, Java, Objective-C and the web. This multi-platform support enables developers to implement sound designs once, and easily deploy their project with consistent sounding results across the top mobile and desktop platforms. Sound designers can save time by using our new DAW plugin for accurately monitoring spatial audio that’s destined for YouTube videos or apps developed with Resonance Audio SDKs. Web developers get the open source Resonance Audio Web SDK that works in the top web browsers by using the Web Audio API.

DAW Plugin
DAW plugin for sound designers to monitor audio destined for YouTube 360 videos or apps developed with the SDK

Model complex sound environments

By providing powerful tools for accurately modeling complex sound environments, Resonance Audio goes beyond basic 3D spatialization. The SDK enables developers to control the direction acoustic waves propagate from sound sources. For example, when standing behind a guitar player, it can sound quieter than when standing in front. And when facing the direction of the guitar, it can sound louder than when your back is turned.

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Controlling sound wave directivity for an acoustic guitar using the SDK

Another SDK feature is automatically rendering near-field effects when sound sources get close to a listener’s head, providing an accurate perception of distance, even when sources are close to the ear. The SDK also enables sound source spread, by specifying the width of the source, allowing sound to be simulated from a tiny point in space up to a wall of sound. We’ve also released an Ambisonic recording tool to spatially capture your sound design directly within Unity, save it to a file, and use it anywhere Ambisionic soundfield playback is supported, from game engines to YouTube videos.

If you’re interested in creating rich, immersive soundscapes using cutting-edge spatial audio technology, check out the Resonance Audio documentation on our developer site. You can also experience spatial audio in our Audio Factory VR app for Daydream and SteamVR. Let us know what you think through GitHub, and show us what you build with #ResonanceAudio on social media; we’ll be resharing our favorites. 

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Attack in New York

This week people turned to Google for more information about the New York terrorist attack—carried out by a man from Uzbekistan—that claimed the lives of eight victims. Top questions from people around the U.S. were, “What happened in New York?” “Where was the New York terrorist from?” And “Who died in the NYC attack?” Two of the top questions from New Yorkers themselves were: “How to mark yourself as safe on Facebook” and “Where is Uzbekistan located?”

What’s old is new

Approximately 4,500 years after the Pyramid of Giza was built, scientists have discovered a hidden 100-foot space within the Great Pyramid. People in South Dakota, New Mexico and Montana searched the most about the discovery, with top questions like, “Can you go inside the Great Pyramid?” “Which Pharaoh was the Great Pyramid built for?” and “How did the Egyptians build the pyramids?”

Be Prepared

In the circle of life, classic movies get remade. This week, Disney announced the cast of the new live-action “Lion King” movie, and search interest in “The Lion King” rose 1,700 percent. The most searched “Lion King” cast members were Beyoncé, Donald Glover, John Oliver, Keegan-Michael Key and Seth Rogen, while Simba and Pumbaa were the most searched characters.

Having a cow over emoji

A Twitter debate this week proved that some people have beef with Android’s cheeseburger emoji. People grilled Search with these top questions: “What is wrong with the cheeseburger emoji?” “Why is there a cheeseburger emoji?” and “What is the controversy over the cheeseburger emoji?” For those communicating in non-food emoji, the top searched emoji this week were  and .

A little birdie told us …

“The Lion King” isn’t the only comeback in the news this week. Tiger Woods announced he’s returning to golf following his back fusion surgery later this year. People are more interested in his resurgence than his surgery: search interest in “Tiger Woods return” swung 420 percent higher than “Tiger Woods surgery,” with top questions like “When was Tiger Woods’ last tour victory?” and “How many major championships has Tiger Woods won?”

 

The She Word: Tory Voight’s climb through her career

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Panel2.png
Women who VRock

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

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I work closely with engineers and creators to dream up new ideas and ways to use VR. I spend most of my time building the Artist in Residency (AiR) program, which engages creators to use our products in new ways and provide valuable product feedback to push VR forward.  

What advice would you give to women starting out in their careers?

If you’re interested in something, don’t hesitate to reach out. Many great relationships, lessons, and even job positions have resulted from doing just that. Back in 2015, I contacted the VR team and offered to lend 20 percent of my time to help out with Cardboard. I did that for a few months, and eventually got a full time job on the team. If I had never sent that first email, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now. Offering to help with projects helps you understand the field you want to be in—and what to expect.

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?

From an early age, it was my mother, a single parent of five children who worked two or even three jobs to support our family. I learned the value of perseverance through the adversity we faced together, and through all the wonderful women I met in our various jobs—from cleaning houses, to working in a truck stop Wendy’s. They inspire me to give back in my career as a purpose-driven individual, and to work for a company like Google that builds tools to democratize experiences and opportunities, regardless of one’s background. That’s why I’m so excited about VR products we’re building—they give people access to experiences.

You’ve mentioned that giving back is important. How do you give back to the community?

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Tory and Sookie at the top. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV.

As a rock climber, I love volunteering for the Yosemite Climbers Association’s “Facelift” program. I help pick up trash around Yosemite Valley (volunteers have collected more than 10 tons of trash over the past 14 years!), and I feel like this small contribution makes the park more enjoyable for everyone.

I also spend time mentoring young women in high school and college. When I was their age, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up—higher education and a career seemed like an unobtainable, abstract idea for a kid from my background. Now I want to take my experience and help them understand what to expect and encourage them, despite any perceived odds or barriers. I give back in honor of all the individuals who pushed me think I could do anything, even if it seemed insurmountable at the time.

What’s an experience you’ve had in VR that really had an impact on you?

This is Bears Ears National Park” opened my eyes to how VR can be used to inform and build empathy over an issue. The park is stunningly beautiful, but continues to face a lot of political and environmental threats. And because I love being outdoors, this content had a particularly strong impact on me. I’m proud that we’re lending a hand to Bears Ears through our Jump Start program, which pairs filmmakers with the resources to create their own stories in VR.

What do you find most challenging about working in VR? 

The exciting and the challenging thing about VR is that it’s still in its technical infancy. We’re in a new field where there aren’t necessarily answers. We have to find them and validate them, and we’re learning all the time. That’s why programs like AiR, and taking user feedback to heart while we play with concepts, are important.

Why is it important to have a wide variety of people and artists explore VR as a medium?

For the past year, I’ve worked closely with artists from different disciplines and mediums—graffiti artists, painters, illustrators, graphic designers, and cartoonists—in the AiR program. When building products, a diverse set of voices is essential to ensuring that those products are delightful and useful for everyone—a successful product simply can’t be achieved from a homogeneous atmosphere.

Get a new perspective on the world with Discovery TRVLR

One of the richest ways to explore and learn about a place is to get to know it from someone who calls that place home. What if you could experience the subtle mysticism of standing in a pagoda in Vietnam watching warrior monks train, or hear the echoes of ancient Aztec gods in the rhythmic stomping of feet during a traditional Mexican cleansing ritual?

Virtual reality makes this possible, so you can go on adventures that transcend the mundane—all without booking a single airplane ticket. That’s the idea behind a new series we created in partnership with Discovery, called Discovery TRVLR.

Discovery has been showing you new parts of the world for over 35 years, and with Discovery TRVLR, you’ll get to explore it in vivid VR video filmed on Jump cameras. Discovery TRVLR takes you on voyages to all seven continents, and by focusing on locals, you’ll uncover the hidden stories of these places and learn things you’d never see in a travel guidebook.

Available today, the first chapter takes you to Auckland, New Zealand—hold on tight as you descend into the depths of a seemingly bottomless cave. New chapters will follow every week. In Hanoi, keep your eyes peeled for slumbering demons as you explore a ghostly forest. In Mexico City, venture south of the capital to the haunting Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the Dolls). In Yerevan, walk a tightrope with the last member of a generation of Armenian acrobats. In Cape Town, explore the underside of the city with a charming, though not strictly licensed, cab operator. And in La Paz, meet female wrestlers giving hope to domestic violence victims. Then cap it all off riding alongside a polar explorer through ice caves and the frozen tundra of Antarctica. 

Find all episodes of Discovery TRVLR on YouTube or the Discovery VR app on Daydream, and watch them with your Cardboard or Daydream View. Here’s hoping you catch your own glimpse of something truly special.