Google Updates Android SDK, Shows Off Brand New User Interface - InformationWeek

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Commentary
8/19/2008
02:59 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Google Updates Android SDK, Shows Off Brand New User Interface

Google provided a new version of the Android software developer kit to developers. The nearly-final mobile operating system gives us a much better idea of what Android phones will look like once they are available. It does still need some more time in the oven to cook, though.

Google provided a new version of the Android software developer kit to developers. The nearly-final mobile operating system gives us a much better idea of what Android phones will look like once they are available. It does still need some more time in the oven to cook, though.According to the Android Developers Blog, the version of the SDK that's been available the last 6 months or so was really only meant to provide a first look at the under-construction mobile platform. Google and its Open Handset Alliance partners have been busy going back and forth, making changes to the platform. Google released the 0.9 version of the Android SDK yesterday, which is much closer to a final build than anything else seen so far.

Google is calling it a beta SDK.

Dan Morrill, developer advocate for Android, wrote, "The beta SDK that we're releasing today is the first big step on the SDK's road to compatibility with 1.0. Since this is a beta release, applications developed with it may not quite be compatible with devices running the final Android 1.0. However, the APIs are now pretty stable and we don't expect any major changes. If you're one of the many developers who were waiting for something a bit more mature, this might be a good time to take another look."

In other words, if you were scared off before by what you saw, please re-consider.

The Release Notes documentation provides a long overview of the basic changes that have been made to the SDK and many of the APIs. Some oddities are that Google has removed any APIs for controlling Bluetooth. Google also removed GCHat due to security reasons. It said, "Due to the security risks inherent in accepting arbitrary data from 'outside' the device, the data messaging facility of the GTalkService will not be present in Android 1.0. The GTalkService will provide connectivity to Google's servers for Google Talk instant messaging, but the API has been removed from this release while we improve the service. Note that this will be a Google-specific service and is not part of the core of Android."

Interesting that it is separating a Google-specific service, GChat, from Android. You'd think the two would go hand in hand, but perhaps Google is allowing room for its partners to develop similar functionalities.

Taking a look at the user interface, it's kind of crazy how different it is from the first "early looks" I saw running on prototype hardware six months ago. There's hardly any resemblance to the software I saw demonstrated during Mobile World Congress. But perhaps that's a good thing.

Google also has listed a timeline for Android development. Pertinent dates are:

  • 12 November, 2007 - "Early Look" SDK released January to August, 2008 - Android Developer Challenge I
  • 18 August, 2008 - Android 0.9 SDK beta released
  • September 2008 - additional Android 1.0 (pre) SDK releases made available, as necessary
  • Q3 - Q4 2008 - Android 1.0 SDK release 1 available (first actual 1.0-compatible SDK)
  • Q4 2008 - Android 1.0 devices available at retail
  • Q4 2008 - Source code released
  • Q4 2008 - Key Announcement on Android Developer Challenge II

In all, these are exciting new developments on the Android front. With yesterday's approval of the HTC Dream, the dream that is Android is beginning to firm up.

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