Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Google Gives Developers "Early Look" at Android 1.5

Google on Monday announced it was giving developers an "early look" at the SDK for Android 1.5, which incorporates the "Cupcake" development branch I've written about previously.

While probably not a direct reaction to the announcement of the iPhone OS 3.0, as it was definitely already in the works, Google's announcement can't hurt, now can it?

Android 1.5 will add a number of enhancements, including speech recognition, live folders, on-screen keyboards, and much more (see below for more detail).

The new Android version will also use Linux kernel 2.6.27 and incorporate changes to the browser via new Webkit browser engine and Squirrelfish Javascript engine (much the same as went into the latest Safari beta).

There was no date given for a release either via a firmware update, or new devices.

Here's the full list of changes, via Google:

User interface refinements

  • System-wide:
    • Refinement of all core UI elements
    • Animated window transitions (off by default)
    • Accelerometer-based application rotations
  • UI polish for:
    • In-call experience
    • Contacts, Call log, and Favorites
    • SMS & MMS
    • Browser
    • Gmail
    • Calendar
    • Email
    • Camera & Gallery
    • Application management

Performance improvements

  • Faster Camera start-up and image capture
  • Much faster acquisition of GPS location (powered by SUPL AGPS)
  • Smoother page scrolling in Browser
  • Speedier GMail conversation list scrolling

New features

  • On-screen soft keyboard
    • Works in both portrait and landscape orientation
    • Support for user installation of 3rd party keyboards
    • User dictionary for custom words
  • Home screen
    • Widgets
      • Bundled home screen widgets include: analog clock, calendar, music player, picture frame, and search
    • Live folders
  • Camera & Gallery
    • Video recording
    • Video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats)
  • Bluetooth
    • Stereo Bluetooth support (A2DP and AVCRP profiles)
    • Auto-pairing
    • Improved handsfree experience
  • Browser
    • Updated with latest Webkit browser & Squirrelfish Javascript engines
    • Copy 'n paste in browser
    • Search within a page
    • User-selectable text-encoding
    • UI changes include:
      • Unified Go and Search box
      • Tabbed bookmarks/history/most-visited screen
  • Contacts
    • Shows user picture for Favorites
    • Specific date/time stamp for events in call log
    • One-touch access to a contact card from call log event
  • System
    • New Linux kernel (version 2.6.27)
    • SD card filesystem auto-checking and repair
    • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0
  • Google applications
    • View Google Talk friends' status in Contacts, SMS, MMS, GMail, and Email applications
    • Batch actions such as archive, delete, and label on Gmail messages
    • Upload videos to Youtube
    • Upload photos on Picasa

New APIs and developer tools

  • UI framework
    • Framework for easier background/UI thread interaction
    • New SlidingDrawer widget
    • Horizontal ScrollView widget
  • Home Screen framework
    • APIs for creating secure home screen widgets
    • APIs for populating live folders with custom content
  • Media framework
    • Raw audio recording and playback APIs
    • Interactive MIDI playback engine
    • Video recording APIs for developers (3GP format)
    • Video and photo sharing Intents
    • Media search Intent
  • Input Method framework
    • Text prediction engine
    • Ability to provide downloadable IMEs to users
  • Speech recognition framework
    • Support for using speech recognition libraries via Intent
  • Misc API additions
    • LocationManager - Applications can get location change updates via Intent
    • WebView - Touch start/end/move/cancel DOM event support
    • SensorManager - redesigned sensor APIs
    • GLSurfaceView - convenience framework for creating OpenGL applications
    • Broadcast Intent for app update install succeeded - for smoother app upgrade experience
  • Developer tools
    • Support for multiple versions of Android in a single SDK installation
    • Improved JUnit support in ADT
    • Easier application performance profiling




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