Developers have a lot to look forward to with the latest release of Android, but not everything requires Lollipop to run. With the official release of the SDK for API Level 21, Google also included an updated version of the AppCompat Support Library, which contains back-ported versions of UI controls and other features for use on older versions of the OS. Some of the new libraries were first available with the L Preview SDK, but just about everything has received an update, and there are some additions for the official release.
Update: While the message sent out to developers may be new, as it turns out, the information is not. It repeats what Google said back when it announced the availability of the Android 5.0 SDK. Here's the relevant passage.
Google is pretty well known for building a fast and (usually) reliable infrastructure that can stand up to just about anything short a certain Nexus launch. This is why it came as no surprise when the tech giant announced its own cloud hosting service during I/O 2012, giving developers a path to tap into some of that power. Since the launch, Google has attempted to make its Cloud Platform product as appealing as possible, but the response has been fairly tepid.
On Wednesday, Google teased developers and enthusiasts by officially announcing Lollipop, but chose to delay the release of anything substantial for another two days. Well, we've waited for the obligatory 48 hours, and the SDK is finally available, just in time for the weekend. (Yay?) Developers can finally abandon the interim SDK and move on to the real thing. There's no more pretending 'L' counts as an API Level, Android 5.0 is officially numbered 21.
Developers won't have to put up with that junky "preview" SDK much longer. In just two days (October 17th) the final Android 5.0 SDK will be available for download in the SDK manager.
Back in June, Google announced Android was destined to gain 64-bit support in the coming L release. A few weeks later, Revision 10 of the Native Development Kit (NDK) was posted with support for the three 64-bit architectures that would be able to run the new version of Android: arm64-v8a, x86_64, and mips64. As we close in on the official release of Android L, Google has updated the NDK to revision 10b and added an emulator image developers can use to prepare their apps to run on devices built with Intel's 64-bit chips.
Whenever we post a story about a new app or game that has had a considerable delay in coming from iOS to Android, we get commenters asking us what took so long, or even saying that they won't download it because of the delay. We get it, and it's no less frustrating on our side. But despite Android's market share and sales dominance, developers continue to prioritize iOS. Various studies and statistical presentations say (with increasing repetition) that this is because people spend more money on the App Store than on the Play Store.
Excitement over products like the Ouya, nVidia's Shield line, and even numerous gamepads proves that gaming on Android has entered the mainstream. Developers have been jumping at the opportunity to build games that work across many of the different operating systems; and thanks to the Cross-Platform SDK, they're able to integrate most of the Play Games services into their products on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Until now, this SDK has lagged behind the SDKs for Android and iOS on one specific feature: real-time multiplayer support.
The other half of Google's Play Store policy changes looks to be going into effect alongside the new in-app purchase price ranges. Developers who have added their addresses to the dev console will now see them posted on the public Play Store page for all to see. This bit of info is in the expanded information section with the changelog and IAP prices. It's currently only showing up in the Android client, but the web store probably won't be far behind.
Though Google officially announced Android Auto back at Google I/O, we didn't get to see much of the car initiative at the show itself. A recent update to the Developer.Android.com page shows off a lot more of the system, primarily in how the usual Android apps on a phone interact with a dash unit in a car or truck. The updated page includes screenshots of the app launcher (such as it is), Google Play Music, and some basic menus.