The Android Action Bar will now be usable in more Android applications due to the new release of a backward-compatible version of the code that surfaced at the Google I/O developers conference this past May. The code was used in the conference's official event app and is now being released for free use by Google.
Developers can now integrate the free open-source code into their new and older applications, according to an Aug. 7 post by Chris Banes, of the Android developer relations team, on the Android Developers Blog. The Action Bar code is backward-compatible so it can be added to existing Android apps.
"Following on the Android 4.3 and Nexus 7 announcements, we recently released two important tools to help you build beautiful apps that follow Android Design best practices," including the Action Bar and the full source code for the feature-filled I/O 2013 app, wrote Banes. "The ActionBarCompat APIs let you build the essential Action Bar design pattern into your app, with broad compatibility back to Android 2.1," while the I/O 2013 source code "gives you working examples of ActionBarCompat, responsive design for phones and tablets, Google+ sign-in, synchronized data kept fresh through Google Cloud Messaging, livestreaming using the YouTube Android Player API, Google Maps API v2, and much more."
The code for both offerings is licensed under Apache License 2.0/Creative Commons 3.0 BY to make it freely usable by developers in their apps. The source code can be downloaded from Google's iosched Web page.
Developers can still download this May's I/O 2013 app from Google Play so they can see the new tools in action, wrote Banes. "The app's Action Bar is built using the ActionBarCompat and served as our main test environment for making sure the APIs work properly, with full compatibility across platform versions."
The Action Bar is a "window feature that identifies the user location, and provides user actions and navigation modes," according to Google's Action Bar design guide. "Using the action bar offers your users a familiar interface across applications that the system gracefully adapts for different screen configurations."
Developers are being encouraged to upgrade to the new code from old Action Bar implementations, wrote Banes. "ActionBarCompat is a new API in the Android Support Library that allows you to add an Action Bar to applications targeting
7 or greater. The API and integration have been designed to closely mirror the existing framework APIs, giving you an easy migration path for your existing apps."
Banes' post provides in-depth details on how to use the code and directs developers to an Action Bar API Guide that provides more information.
Google released a new version of Android, Version 4.3, in July, featuring a wide range of new developer features, including restricted profiles, Bluetooth Smart Support and improved 3D graphics.
Also in July, Google began a push to encourage Android developers to create more games for tablets to attract game players to the popular devices. To help grow that market more, Google released its new Google Play Games app, which lets games players link up with friends online so they can see what they are playing and play together.