Jan 26 AT 3:36 PM Taylor Wimberly 26 Comments

Google releases Android 3.0 SDK preview, Honeycomb details revealed

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.

Honeycomb desktop mail_drag contacts_full_2 camera_full browser_full copy_full tasks_full homescreen_cust_port_full

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.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website SphericalPuma

    One word: Geekgasm

  • SliestDragon

    My absolute favorite feature(that I’ve seen so far) is that the Honeycomb browser finally syncs with Google Chrome! I have been waiting for this feature since Donut! :D

    • SphericalPuma

      I know, it’ll be nice to have the same favorites that I use on my desktop when I’m out and about with my Xoom (whenever I get it :-P).

    • http://Website AC

      Hardware Acceleration is the biggest news for me and supposedly many others.

      This means we are ggoing to see some serious smooth lag free user interface, not only with the UI, but also with Apps.

  • http://Website Cole

    Cool can’t wait to save up and get my hands on a android tablet with Android 3.0 Honeycomb. I want to see how the new Toshiba tablet comes out. Go Android!!

  • http://www.toysdiva.com PixelSlave

    It would be interesting to see if some brave souls can rip the OS out and port it to a phone, or even better, the Nook Color?

    • SphericalPuma

      XDA is notoriously fast with porting SDK roms just to give a preview, however they’re nowhere stable enough to be used as daily drivers, but it would be fun to mess around with one.

    • http://Website Daniel

      You can try its “phone mode” yourself, just set a custom skin with a small screen. Nexus-ish screen: 480×800, abstract LCD density=240. G1-ish screen: 320×480, density=160.

      And here’s what happens: you briefly see a lock screen (still on the old theme), a screen rotation happens as the new home screen is currently locked into landscape mode (the effect isn’t very good, but this is certainly due to limitations of the emulator), the status bar loads up on top, and Launcher crashes. Just that, it’s clearly not ready for use on phones. On a hdpi setup you can see the new status bar skin (interestingly enough it’s not solid black), though. On mdpi it loads the traditional white status bar (broken, since the icons and text are all light), suggesting this was indeed forked before Gingerbread.

      Here’s a screenshot, slightly edited to show the status bar together with the crash dialog without the dimming effect it causes:

      Between the Launcher crashes you can pull down the status bar, but there’s nothing really interesting there yet.

    • http://Website t

      Someone already got it running on a nexus, check xda

  • SphericalPuma

    Another great thing about no hardware buttons needed is that devices like the nook, provided they’re supported by Cyanogen at some point, could very well see honeycomb. The one thing that holds back the Nook right now is that even with the custom rom out there, it’s buttons that it does have make it a headache at times.

  • http://Website Johannes

    What I miss the most atm is the missing menu button^^

    • http://www.healthytiger.com Healthy

      isn’t that one of the software buttons on the bottom left? (back, home, ?menu?) i guess it could be a window switcher (alt-tab), but it isn’t really clear and currently that is taken care of with a home long-press.

      • http://Website Eric

        No, it’s Home, Window Switcher, and back. There is something better than a menu button now. The entire top portion of the screen is now a context sensitive menu panel now. No need to even press the menu button, it’s contents are always there.

    • http://Website Mark

      You don’t need the menu button, as all the function that would be shown when you press the menu button on current android devices is always shown in the top status bar.

    • http://Website Daniel

      On tablets they will have the Action Bar on top. Phones will most probably keep the menu button, simply because they don’t have the screen estate to spare on yet another fixed row.

  • http://Website Westy

    My biggest concern will be how will this affect existing app functionality. I mean some of these changes seem to be aesthetic but i wonder how it force developers to update their apps. I just hope this doesnt further fragment android.

    • http://Website Daniel

      As before, they preserve backwards compatibility. As always, a number of apps will break, but this is nearly always the fault of the developer for bad code or relying on undocumented and/or deprecated behavior. The (very) few cases where this isn’t true is generally a bug that ought to be fixed, not an intentional breakage.

  • http://www.healthytiger.com Healthy

    here is to hoping that tethering action isn’t blocked on the Xoom.

    it may be vanilla 3.0, but with verizon i doubt they will let that pass. i guess i might be waiting a while for a Nexus T, but that is the level of open that I want.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      C’mon it’s Verizon. We all know they will surely charge you $20 per month for tethering haha.

  • http://Website RockinEvo

    No matter how many times I see that video it shows me why I want a nice android tablet

  • http://ninja.iamserious.com Marcel

    Honeycomb looks good, but I can’t wait to see what’s in:
    Ice Cream Sandwich
    Jelly Bean
    Quince ( Tarte )
    Upside-down Cake
    Vianetta ( Ice Cream Cake )
    XoXo ( Cupcakes )
    Yo-Yo ( Biscuit )
    Apple Pie
    and Brioche


  • http://imransarwar.com Imran Sarwar

    My absolute favorite feature(that I’ve seen so far)

    • http://carhireshop.com.au Jay

      Yeah i do agree with you

  • http://bartinger.blogspot.com/ Bartinger

    It lags like hell.

  • RonWeez

    Very serious question. Is honeycomb only for tablets or will Google update the nexus s to it

    • qcom

      Well, I know it’s “made for tablets”.

      But, that doesn’t really adress the question regarding OS branding. Will phones be upgraded to “3.0″? I don’t know.

      I would say not, but it would be hard to determine what version increments would be for the phone handsets after 2.3…