Jetpack Compose, Google and Jetbrain’s up-and-coming Kotlin-based UI toolkit for Android, is entering beta testing stage, meaning it’s now suitable for production-ready apps.

Some could point to Jetpack Compose as an Android-native alternative to Google’s other UI framework, Flutter. In particular, Jetpack Compose and Flutter both use a “declarative” model, where developers can describe in code how they want their app to look, rather than writing out how to create that particular design.

Where Jetpack Compose, first announced at Google I/O 2019, may find favor with Android developers is that by using Kotlin, everything is being done in a way and in a language that should feel familiar. Similarly, it’s easy to gradually convert small aspects of your app to Compose, nesting traditional views inside of Compose and vice versa.

Last we heard from the Jetpack team, Compose had just entered the Alpha stage of development, with a full release of the toolkit set to arrive later this year. In the nearly two years since Jetpack Compose was unveiled and opened for public contribution, the project has reportedly handled over 700 bugs and taken in over 200 contributions from outside Google.

Today, all of that work is continuing to pay off with Jetpack Compose getting its first beta release. Specifically, Google now considers the library’s API to be complete — meaning it offers everything it needs to offer for the stable release — as well as stable — meaning developers can work on their projects knowing Compose won’t change the rules on them too soon. With these enhancements and a handful of new features, the Jetpack Compose beta is ready to help developers build “production-ready apps.”

Jetpack Compose Beta features

  • Coroutines support (new)
  • Accessibility support for Talkback – support for other technologies will be in Stable (new)
  • Easy to use Animations, with a completely new API since alpha. (new)
  • Interoperability with Views
  • Material UI Components, all with @Sampled code
  • Lazy Lists – Jetpack Compose’s take on RecyclerView
  • DSL-based Constraint Layout
  • Modifiers
  • Testing
  • Theming and Graphics, with easy support for Dark and Light mode
  • Input and gestures
  • Text and editable text
  • Window management

New for Jetpack Compose in Android Studio Canary

  • Live Literals: real time update of literals in Preview and on device or emulator
  • Animation Preview: inspect and playback animations
  • Compose support in the Layout Inspector
  • Interactive preview: inspect and interact with a Composable in isolation
  • Deploy Preview: to deploy a Composable on your device without needing a full app

Looking ahead to the stable release, Google is going to continue working on core features like more accessibility integration, building on the newly added TalkBack support, along with an overall push for better app performance.

Now that Jetpack Compose is effectively production-ready, Google is putting a strong focus to onboarding developers onto the toolkit, with new videos, codelabs, and even an official competition with unique prizes.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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