As an Android app developer, you know that testing your app on a variety of devices to ensure compatibility is crucial to your app’s success. But with so many different devices in the Android ecosystem, how do you get your hands on the ones you need?
Getting each developer on your team access to the latest devices each year could require significant resources, management, and processes. We know that teams can be distributed or you may only need a device to validate a quick fix.
Enter Device Streaming in Android Studio, a new service powered by Firebase and announced at Google I/O 2023. Simply put, the service allows you to access the real physical devices you need, when you need them, all directly from within Android Studio.
“Incredibly useful to have access to practical real world test devices. It’s great for layout validation and confirming behavior on a much more stable device. I enjoy the sleekness and capability of a real device compared to emulators — it also saves the company money from buying more physical devices that we don’t always need.” — Alistair Godwin, Developer at Dayforce
Device streaming, powered by Firebase, is an innovative feature in Android Studio that enables you to manually interact with and test your app on devices located in Google’s secure data centers. That is, you can see the screen, interact with the device, and do anything else you would do using a secure ADB connection. It’s similar to local device mirroring, but with remote devices you may not own.
With just a few clicks, device streaming serves as an invaluable tool to validate your app on a diverse set of devices, such as the Google Pixel 8, Pixel Fold, Pixel Tablet, and select OEM devices. Each device is connected via ADB over SSL. So, you can use the devices with other tools and IDEs, not just Android Studio.
The service will soon enter Alpha, which means that, for a limited time, you and your team can access the latest devices directly from Android Studio at no cost. If you’re interested in joining the trusted tester program, Register now!
Device streaming is a useful service not only for individuals, but particularly for teams. It enables developers to mitigate geographical, logistical, and budget constraints, providing easier access to a broad spectrum of devices to help validate that your apps run great, everywhere. With the service, teams can avoid overhead of device purchasing or lost productivity trying to find the one team member that has the Google Pixel Fold.
Flexibility and convenience
Whether you’re working from home or on a distributed team, or you have finite resources to purchase test devices, device streaming helps your team access real physical devices from anywhere, and without having to purchase a device. This not only removes a significant barrier to app testing during the development processes, but also provides greater flexibility for you and your team.
“[Device streaming] means one less device and cable to carry around while preserving battery life compared to having an emulator running locally.” — Sven Bendel, CTO at Wisp
Security and privacy in mind
Because device streaming is powered by Firebase, keeping your sessions private and secure are a top priority. Each device you connect to lives in Google’s secure data centers and you connect to them via ADB over SSL, whether or not you’re using Android Studio or other tools to communicate with the device. And finally, when you’re done with your session, Firebase completely wipes and factory resets the device before another developer can use it.
The latest devices, right to your IDE
Device streaming will be the fastest and easiest way to test your app on real Pixel 8 devices. Similarly, for developers in regions that might not have access to, say, a Pixel Fold, the service connects you to the device you need in just a few clicks. As the service matures, expect to see not only the latest Google Pixel devices, but also popular devices from other top manufacturers, like Samsung.
“I loved the ability to deploy to almost all form factors. It’s great to have such an option to assess, and we expect to update our app to support more form factors.” — Artem Dorosh, Android Engineer at Cuvva
Real-time testing with the tools you love
Being integrated directly into Android Studio means that there is very little set up or learning curve for your team to start using device streaming. Simply select the device you want and connect, with low overhead. In moments, you’ll have a direct ADB connection to each device, allowing you to use your favorite tools, such as Logcat, the debugger, Profilers, UI design tools, and more, just like you would with a local device. In fact, after you’ve set up a connection, you can use any tool or IDE that you’re currently using for Android development with the devices. This flexibility and compatibility helps you and your team discover, fix, and validate issues across different devices much faster.
“We tried device streaming and it works effortlessly. We were especially surprised how fast the deployment process is.” — Cyrill Hänni, Developer at WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Device streaming is a powerful tool that helps you test your apps on supported devices. It addresses the long-standing, sometimes insurmountable challenge of accessing devices for testing. The integration of real-world testing scenarios and immediate feedback mechanisms empowers developers to create apps that resonate with diverse user needs and preferences. With device streaming, we hope that developers can more easily elevate the quality of their apps, fostering a more inclusive and dynamic Android ecosystem.
“[Device streaming] in Android Studio is a game changer.” — Andrew de Silva, Co-Founder of Mixcord, Inc.
If you’re an Android app developer, try device streaming. To learn more and register for the program, visit the sign-up page.