Google Goes Gaga for AI Developer Tools
At its I/O developer conference this week, Google demonstrated how its AI can support more automation in developer spaces. Among the announcements was the application of AI to mobile Android development and cloud application deployments.
Studio Bot for Mobile Android Development
Matthew McCullough, vice president of Product at Android Developer, introduced three new features — all reliant on AI — into the world of Android development. First, Google has added AI directly into the Android developer workflow. Second, it has added more support for developing in a multi-device world, including support for flippable or foldable phones, which Google also unveiled at I/O on Wednesday. Finally, it demonstrated how a new language toolkit and tool improvements “seamlessly converge in the modern Android development stack,” McCullough said.
Jamal Eason, director of product management, demonstrated how AI is being put to use in an Android Studio tool called Studio Bot that helps refine code and deploy with best practices based on the hardware your app will be deployed on. By using the assistant window found in the toolbar, developers can chat with the bot to create.
“Studio Bot is a tightly integrated AI-powered helper in Android Studio, designed to make you more productive,” Eason said. “What’s unique about this chat setup is that you don’t need to send your source code to Google — [it’s] just a chat dialogue between you and the bot.”
Studio Bot can generate code — of course, it can — but it does more, Eason explained.
“It’s the place to ask questions in context. So for instance, I don’t need this layout in XML but in Kotlin, since I’m doing this app in Jetpack Compose, so let’s ask studio bot: How do I do this in Jetpack Compose? And perfect, the code makes sense.”
It also provides additional guidance and documentation, he said. Developers can also ask the Studio Bot to create a unit test for the app as well.
“I’m just having a conversation with Studio Bot, but it remembers the context between question to question,” he said, demonstrating that Studio Bot created the unit tests in the right context.
The bot can even explain what caused a crash — in this case, Eason forgot to add internet permissions. With the click of a button, thanks to the AI, he generated the missing code and added it.
“Now once you build your app with the help of Studio Bot, you’re ready to publish to Google Play, and here, we’re also bringing the power of AI,” Eason said. “So today, we’re launching a new experiment of the Google Play console that regenerates custom store listings for different types of users. You will ultimately have control of what you submit, but Google Play is there to help you be more creative, from start to finish, develop to publish. We’re deploying AI to help you move faster and to be more creative.”
Cloud Development with Duet AI
Cloud development hasn’t been left out of the generative AI rush, either. Google introduced Duet AI as an AI-powered collaborator, with the ability to build code models trained directly by your own code.
“When it comes to cloud, generative AI is opening the door for professional developers with different skill levels to be productive,” said Chen Goldberg, general manager and vice president of Engineering for Kubernetes and Serverless at Google. “We believe to add AI fundamentally changes how developers of all skill levels can build cloud applications.”
With the new cloud capabilities, any developer can build enterprise-ready applications without expertise in security, scalability, sustainability and cost management, she said.
She demoed adding support for Hindi to a shopping website called Simple, which has a lot of customers in India. She used Cloud Workstation, a secure, fully managed development environment now available in GA.
“All I have to do is to create a function and add a comment, and now, thanks to Duet AI, I can see a code snippet for using Cloud Translation API [that] it suggested to me immediately,” Goldberg said. “Generate code is a good start, but good software engineering practice, like ensuring that my dependencies are up to date, is essential. So before I go to production, I can check these and ensure they work.”
The AI detected she was running an old version of a telemetry library and with a click, allowed her to upgrade it and then the website supported Hindi.
“What would have taken me a long time — not to mention I might not have been able to do it on my own — just took me minutes,” Goldberg said.
It can also be applied to existing code.
“One of my personal favorite ways to use Duet AI is making the work of maintaining large code bases simpler,” Goldberg said. “I’ve come across this code, which I’m not familiar with. Well, now instead of pinging the owner, searching for related code, and spending a long time reviewing it, I can just ask Duet AI to help me understand this piece of code.”
Duet AI currently is available only through Google’s Trusted Tester Program. VertexAI offers a similar experience for your own codebase, she added.
“You can tune and customize foundation models from Google with your own code base; no ML expertise required,” she said. “And you can call your custom code models directly from the Duet API.”
Vertex AI can tune and customize foundation models, but it can also be used to create new content, such as images, she said.
“In Vertex AI, you can easily access a full suite of foundation models from Google and open source partners with enterprise-grade data governance and security, and you don’t need to worry about all the work needed to set them up,” Goldberg said, demonstrating Vertex AI’s ability to take a handbag picture, add it to the image foundation model, and create multiple variations of the image.
“It will work regardless of the complexity of the image, giving me the freedom to easily iterate and explore different options without the complexity of hosting my own model or figuring out the hyperparameters,” she said. “With Vertex AI, I can quickly and easily upscale it [the image] so it looks consistent on high-resolution displays in my online store and in print, it’s almost ready to be added to my site. As I’m expanding globally, the power of Vertex AI will lead me to generate text captions for accessibility and localize them into more than 300 languages.”
Look, Ma, No Code
She then threw out all the stops and showed how Duet AI could be integrated with Google Workspace to create an app without even knowing how to code.
“I describe in natural language the travel approval app I want to build. Next, Duet AI walked me through the process step by step, asking a simple set of questions like ‘How would you like to be notified? What are the key sections of my app? And most importantly, what’s the name of the app?’ Let’s call it simple travel,” she said. “Once the questions are answered, Duet AI creates the app with travel requests from my team within Google Workspace.”
The new chat APIs are now available in Google Workspace and will be generally available in the coming weeks, she added. With those APIs, developers can build chat apps that let users perform actions such as creating or updating records. Atlassian used these APIs to build their Jira app for chat, she noted. Jira app allows teams to track issues, manage projects, and automate workflows.
Also, coming to preview in the next few weeks will be the new Google Meet APIs and two new SDKs that allow developers to bring Google Meet data and capabilities to apps, she added.
For a look at the AI models underlying these developments, check out, “Google’s New TensorFlow Tools and Approach to Fine-Tuning ML.”