Facebook has released three new tools designed to assist Android app developers in making more streamlined apps, regardless of a user’s device or connection speed. All are open source, and were announced during the social network’s F8 developer conference.
The first two are closely related, as they help provide deeper information about the device on which an app is running, and the speed of its data connection. Year Class is for better identifying the capability of a user’s smartphone, so apps can be tuned to run at an optimum level. For example, a device from 2009 would benefit from displaying less graphically intensive animations than a model from 2014.
Facebook’s Year Class device breakdown
Facebook looks at what devices were considered the most technically impressive for a year, based primarily on the processor’s ability, the number of cores, and the amount of RAM installed. A single line of code is all that’s needed to implement the Year Class tool, and it also brings improved commenting, and a revised News Feed ranking for lower specification devices.
Network Connection Class is very similar, and gives developers a clearer picture of the data speeds seen by users. The results are split into four categories, based on overall speed, and can again be used to tweak apps for users with poor or excellent connections. Facebook says speeds can vary considerably, and simply knowing the type of connection isn’t enough. For example, the speed of an HSPA connection could vary by up to five times depending on its country.
An example of Facebook’s Network Connection Class tool
Finally, there’s Fresco, a tool for managing the amount of memory images use, ready to prevent app crashes. Full size images can take up a lot of valuable space on a smartphone, especially older devices, and Fresco makes the most of the memory available, while managing the way images are stored, displayed, and retrieved.