Google has launched an alpha release of Jetpack Compose, a UI development toolkit for building Android apps without needing reams of custom code.

Jetpack Compose provides native access to Android platform APIs that developers can use to build user interfaces (UIs) for Android apps using the Kotlin programming language.

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The toolkit enables developers to write both core app features and the UI using Kotlin, reducing the amount of custom code needed to build new, ‘high quality’ apps.

Compose APIs have been designed and developed hand-in-hand with a set of canonical sample apps based on Google’s Material Design UI for Android, which have been published on GitHub.

Compose is also interoperable with existing Android code, meaning developers can combine it with existing UI designs built using other programming languages.

A production release of Jetpack Compose 1.0 is expected in 2021.

Karen Ng, Google’s director for product management, said: “We know you need a programming language, an IDE and a powerful UI framework that can save you time and reduce how much code you need to write.

“Jetpack Compose Alpha has what you need to build full-fledged Android apps, including powerful tools and interoperability with existing Android views so you don’t need to rewrite your app.”

Jetpack Compose was announced at the Google I/O developer conference in May 2019 and was released in a preview version shortly afterwards.

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The company has been pushing Kotlin as its favoured programming language for Android app development, with Kotlin being first to benefit from additions to Google’s Android Jetpack tool library.

According to Ng, 84% of the top 10,000 apps in the Google Play store are now using a Jetpack library.

“We heard how developers love Kotlin, with over 70% of the top 1000 apps and 60% of pro Android developers using Kotlin today,” said Ng.

“Finally, we heard strong feedback from the community that developers like the simplicity of declarative APIs for building UI. Jetpack Compose combines all three of these: APIs for high quality apps at scale, an intuitive language, and a reactive programming model.”