Meta’s Early Adoption Empowered Enhanced User Experience

Posted by Terence Zhang – Developer Relations Engineer, Google; in partnership with Tina Ho – Partner Engineering, TPM and Kun Wang – Partner Engineering, Partner Engineer

Meta’s Early Adoption Empowered Enhanced User Experience

With the first Developer Preview of Android 15 now released, another new Android release that brings new features and under-the-hood improvements for billions of users worldwide will be coming shortly. As Android developers, you are key players in this evolution; by staying on top of the targetSDK upgrade cycle, you are making sure that your users have the best possible experience.

The way Meta, the parent company of Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Messenger, approached Android 14 provides a blueprint for both developer success and user satisfaction. Meta improved their velocity towards targetSDK adoption by 4x, and so to understand more about how they built this, we spoke to the team at Meta, with an eye towards insights that all developers could build into their testing programs.

Meta’s journey on A14: A blueprint for faster adoption

When Android 11 launched, some of Meta’s apps experienced challenges with existing features, such as Chat Heads, and with new requirements, like scoped storage integration. Fixing these issues was complicated by slow developer tooling adoption and a decentralized app strategy. This experience motivated Meta to create an internal Android OS Readiness Program which focuses on prioritizing early and thorough testing throughout the Android release window and accelerating their apps’ targetSDK adoption.

The program officially launched last year. By compiling apps against each Android 14 beta and conducting thorough automated and smoke tests to proactively identify potential issues, Meta was able to seamlessly adopt new Android 14 features, like Foreground Service types and send timely feedback and bug reports to the Android team, contributing to improvements in the OS.

Meta also accelerated their targetSDK adoption for Android 14—updating Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram within one to two months of the AOSP release, compared to seven to nine months for Android 12 (an increase of velocity of more than 4x!). Meta’s newly created readiness program unlocked this achievement by working across each app to adopt latest Android changes while still maintaining compatibility. For example, by automating and simplifying their SDK release process, Meta was able to cut rollout time from three weeks to under three hours, enhancing cooperation between individual app teams by providing immediate access to the latest SDKs and allowing for rapid testing of new OS features. The centralized approach also meant Threads adopted Android 14 support quickly despite the fast-growing new app being supported by a minimal team.

Reaping the rewards: The impact on users

Meta’s early targetSDK adoption strategy delivers significant benefits for users as well. Here’s how:

    • Improved reliability and compatibility: Early adoption of Android previews and betas prevented surprises near the OS launch, guaranteeing a smooth day-one experience for users upgrading to the latest Android version. For example, with partial media permissions, Meta’s extensive experimentation with permission flows ensured “users felt informed about the change and in control over their privacy settings,” while maximizing the app’s media-sharing functionality.

    • Robust experimentation with new release features: Early Android release adoption gave Meta ample time to collaborate across privacy, design, and content strategy teams, enabling them to thoughtfully integrate the new Android features that come with every release. This enhanced the collaboration on other features, allowing Meta to roll out Ultra HDR image experience on Instagram within 3 months of platform release in an “Android first” manner is a great example of this, delighting users with brighter and richer colors with a higher dynamic range in their Instagram posts and stories.

Meta's adoption of Ultra HDR in Android 14 brings brighter colors and dynamic range to Instagram posts and stories.

Meta’s adoption of Ultra HDR in Android 14 brings brighter colors and dynamic range to Instagram posts and stories.

Embrace the latest Android versions

Meta’s journey highlights the compelling reasons for Android developers to adopt a similar forward-thinking mindset in working with the Android betas:

    • Test your apps early: Anticipate Android OS changes, ensuring your apps are prepared for the latest target SDK as soon as they become available to create a seamless transition for users who update to the newest Android version.

    • Utilize latest tools to optimize user experience: Test your apps thoroughly against each beta to identify and address any potential issues. Check the Android Studio Upgrade Assistant to highlight major breaking changes in each targetSDKVersion, and integrate the compatibility framework tool into your testing process to help uncover potential app issues in the new OS version.

    • Collaborate with Google: Provide your valuable feedback and bug reports using the Google issue tracker to contribute directly to the improvement of the Android ecosystem.

We encourage you to take full advantage of the Android Developer Previews & Betas program, starting with the newly-released Android 15 Developer Preview 1.

The team behind the success

A big thank you to the entire Meta team for their collaboration in Android 14 and in writing this blog! We’d especially like to recognize the following folks from Meta for their outstanding contributions in establishing a culture of early adoption:

    • Tushar Varshney – Partner Engineering, Partner Engineer
    • Allen Bae – Partner Engineering, EM
    • Abel Del Pino – Facebook, SWE
    • Matias Hanco – Facebook, SWE
    • Summer Kitahara – Instagram, SWE
    • Tom Rozanski – Messenger, SWE
    • Ashish Gupta – WhatsApp, SWE
    • Daniel Hill – Mobile Infra, SWE
    • Jason Tang – Facebook, SWE
    • Jane Li – Meta Quest, SWE

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