Oct 26 AT 1:48 PM Justin Shapcott 20 Comments

Android 2.0: Developers left in the dark

Update (10/27): The Android 2.0 SDK has been released.

We are constantly reminded that Android 2.0 is due out with the release of the Motorola Droid on the Verizon network in the United States. Although we are still awaiting the official announcement of a release date, many signs point to November 6th, 2009.

As an Android user I have to say, woohoo! Of course… I say that with absolutely no intentions of getting the Droid when it comes out, but I am hopeful that it won’t be too long before my (lowly) CLIQ, Sapphire or, dare I say, G1 gets the update. As a developer, however, I find myself angry at Google for leaving me, and all other non-privileged developers, in the dark as to what changes are being made in Android 2.0 that will change how we develop.

As of the time of writing, there has been no indication from Google what the changes might be, or when they will release the details to developers. The Android Open Source Project has received no major code-drops and has no Eclair or Android 2.0 branches defined. According to one prominent contributor to the official Google Groups for Android, even OHA member organizations are having trouble obtaining the fabled Android 2.0 source.

Despite being publicly questioned several times on the Google Groups, there has been no response from Google; however, from other knowledgeable contributors, a common response is that “there is no Android 2.0“, but we all know that is simply untrue.

So what gives, Google? How can we developers be expected to 1) make sure that our applications don’t break with this new version of the operating system, and 2) create new applications that will take advantage of the new features in a timely manner?

Viewing it from a user standpoint, why should I run out to buy this new phone if I am going to have to deal with potentially broken applications and in almost all cases don’t take advantage of the full potential of the operating system? If we are to believe the rumors and the Verizon marketing campaign, we should expect major improvements beyond those afforded by a faster processor.

When asked about the status of Android 2.0, Motorola responded that Google is responsible for releasing the Android software. This, along with claims that even OHA members can’t get the source, makes me wonder: “Why is Google holding the Android community hostage?”

Justin is the founder of and lead developer at nEx.Software.

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