Google I/O 2014 was held last week. One week out, I think I’ve finally had a chance to parse through all the new information!

It was a pretty exciting few days for Android developers. Below are a few highlights, but I’m curious as to what all of you think about everything.

Design

The next Android release, codenamed “Android L”, will include a design overhaul named “Material Design.” This is the new design theme that is the love child of Holo (first introduced with Ice Cream Sandwich) and Cards (made popular with Google Now). There aren’t any major differences, but it’s a nice update with some cool features that already has me feeling like Holo designs are dated.

Views can now have a Z value for drawing order (think z-index from the web). Higher values mean they are higher off the screen, which results in bigger shadows or appearing over other elements with lower values.

There are new Animation and Transition APIs, and they look great! Definitely check out this page and click on all the animated GIFs to see them in action.

Development

For the first time, the next version of Android (“L”) is only available as a beta for developers. It won’t officially be rolled out until this fall. There are some interesting changes that will affect some of our apps in our Android courses here, but only when updating them to target the new platform. I’m already working on refreshes!

RecyclerView and CardView are new widgets to replace ListViews.

The Action Bar is now called the App Bar. Color is now easily set using a Material theme.

Android Studio is now a Beta! You need a clean install if you’ve been using the preview version. Though it won’t be official until Fall, I plan on using this right away. It’s stable enough now to teach from, and there shouldn’t be any major changes between now and when it gets an official release. Download it now and get the Android L preview SDK to try out some of the new features, but you can’t publish anything that targets Android L yet.

Polymer looks interesting! Still need to try it myself.

Devices

Android Wear for watches and wearables

android_wear

Android TV promises tight integration with Google Play and other apps. It will have voice search and Google Cast capabilities (like Chromecast).

android_2

Android Auto already has a bunch of auto manufacturers on board to offer an Android-based unit in car dashboards. The usual suspects of navigation and audio apps will be available, as well as some messaging and reminder stuff.

Chromebooks will soon be able to run Android apps This may not be a big deal right away, but could potentially be great to offer apps that can run wherever your users need them.

Ben teaches our Android Development course at Treehouse