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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  • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

    It looks like Moto and Verizon have an exclusive. I would be surprised if any T-Mobile phones get updated to Android 2.0 this year. I guess when the Droid phone is official, we can question T-Mobile and see what they say about it.

  • http://www.goldfishview.com David Shellabarger

    You have a Sprint Palm Pre ad banner on the left there.

  • Todd

    It’s an unspoken hint from Google, to you, that local apps are dead ( mobile and desktop ) and you should be writing pure web apps that use HTML5 and Gears.

    Ref. Gmail through Android’s browser is 10x better than the local install, Google aggressive promotion of web apps that usurp local, OS specific software like Gmail vs. Outlook and the entire Google Voice rejected for iPhone but will now be available as a pure web app optimized for iPhone browser.

  • http://www.goldfishview.com David Shellabarger

    speaking of developers being angry at Google… ADC2 results? I was suppose to be a couple days right? Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since we’ve heard anything about ADC2!

  • Yaniv.Chokron

    Nicely put Justin.
    Scary thing is… I get this eery feeling that Google is gonna do something foolish soon like…. close off more of Android… or.. get caught doing something with the data.

  • nom

    but when the api suddenly changes as is usually the case with new rapid evolving code, such developers throw hissy fits because their apps break. no thanks, i’d rather have a stable api to target my apps.

    • http://www.nexsoftware.net Justin Shapcott

      Of course we want a stable API. Consider though that if the Motorola Droid is actually to come out on November 6th, one would sure hope that Android 2.0 (and its equivalent SDK) is done by now. We need access to that SDK prior to the release so that we can check for those broken API methods, plain and simple.

      Forgive me if I misinterpreted the tone of your response… It’s hard to tell the exact angle you are taking.

  • http://roadtoadc.blogspot.com TomTasche


    sounds like THEY have access to Android 2.0? :/

  • Brynthe

    Maybe just maybe android 2.0 is going to be fully compatible with majority of the apps. dont forget that only a very few and particular types of apps broke on 1.6…

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      I’m 99% sure I saw a “compatibility mode” in early Donut/Eclair builds. I will try to dig up a screen shot.

      • http://www.nexsoftware.net Justin Shapcott

        Cyaonogen includes a compatibility mode toggle in Spare Parts. I believe that Android 1.6 (Donut) automatically uses compatibility mode and Spare Parts let’s you turn it off.

        • Brynthe

          See… i don’t doubt that the guys there just completely overlooked that thousands of apps may be out of the loop… they are not complete screw ups…

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