Today Google released a non-final preview of the Android 3.0 SDK to allow developers to test their applications with the upcoming tablet OS, inherit the new “Holographic” theme, and work on providing alternative layouts for extra large screens. The Android Developers Blog notes that applications developed with the Android 3.0 Platform Preview cannot be published on Android Market, but they will be releasing a final SDK in the coming weeks.
Also released today were updates for the SDK Tools (r9), NDK (r5b), and ADT Plugin for Eclipse (9.0.0).
The Android 3.0 platform highlights was also expanded to reveal several new features and a handful of screenshots. Android 3.0 will feature a system bar at the bottom of the screen for global status and notifications and also an action bar at the top of the screen for application control.
Similar to previous versions of Android, users will have access to five customizable home screens. Each screen offers a large grid that allows users to customize the layout of their widgets, app shortcuts, and wallpapers. The homescreen also includes the familiar launcher to access all your applications and a universal search box to easily find anything.
Multitasking is being improved with updates to the recent apps feature. Users will now be able to see snapshots of their apps actual state when they last viewed it. The virtual keyboard has been improved with tweaks to enter text faster and a Tab key was also thrown in.
New connectivity options include the ability to sync media files with a desktop computer or USB-connected camera. Users will also be able to connect a full keyboard either by USB or Bluetooth. Devices can now share network connections with the new Bluetooth tethering support.
Most of the native Android apps have received updates as well. The Browser now support the “incognito” mode found in Chrome, the Camera app has been redesigned to take advantage of the larger screen, Contacts now features a new two-pane UI to make organization easier, and the Email app also has a new two-pane UI to make things more efficient.
Developer features available in Android 3.0 include a new UI Framework for creating tablet apps, high-performance 2D and 3D graphics, support for multicore processor architectures, rich multimedia and connectivity, and enhancements for enterprise.
Overall it looks like a really exciting release. Only a few more weeks and we should be getting some hands-on time with several Honeycomb tablets at MWC.
Some of the highlights for Android 3.0 include:
- UI framework for creating great apps for larger screen devices: Developers can use a new UI components, new themes, richer widgets and notifications, drag and drop, and other new features to create rich and engaging apps for users on larger screen devices.
- High-performance 2D and 3D graphics: A new property-based animation framework lets developers add great visual effects to their apps. A built-in GL renderer lets developers request hardware-acceleration of common 2D rendering operations in their apps, across the entire app or only in specific activities or views. For adding rich 3D scenes, developers take advantage of a new 3D graphics engine called Renderscript.
- Support for multicore processor architectures: Android 3.0 is optimized to run on either single- or dual-core processors, so that applications run with the best possible performance.
- Rich multimedia: New multimedia features such as HTTP Live streaming support, a pluggable DRM framework, and easy media file transfer through MTP/PTP, give developers new ways to bring rich content to users.
- New types of connectivity: New APIs for Bluetooth A2DP and HSP let applications offer audio streaming and headset control. Support for Bluetooth insecure socket connection lets applications connect to simple devices that may not have a user interface.
- Enhancements for enterprise: New administrative policies, such as for encrypted storage and password expiration, help enterprise administrators manage devices more effectively.