Google didn't leave us waiting long for the Android 3.1 SDK; hot on the heels of this morning's unveiling, the software development kit for the latest version of Honeycomb has landed. With it comes a boatload of new APIs (no wonder the API level is now 12) - most notably resizable widgets, improved animation frameworks, and, last but certainly not least, a host of options for interacting with USB devices.
It's definitely an exciting day for Android developers - first, Motorola confirmed that their XOOM tablet will be open for development, and now the the final Android 3.0 SDK is available. Additionally, the SDK tools and ADT plugin have been updated to versions r10 and 10.0.0, respectively, with the following improvements and additions:
- UI Builder improvements in the ADT Plugin:
- New Palette with categories and rendering previews. (details)
- More accurate rendering of layouts to more faithfully reflect how the layout will look on devices, including rendering status and title bars to more accurately reflect screen space actually available to applications.
When it comes to haptic feedback, which is a fancy term for the way your smartphone vibrates or physically responds to your actions, smartphone users are not used to much variety. Unlike the complicated haptic motors in console gaming controllers, my EVO has a pretty standard and very basic vibrating motor inside, and the only aspect apps can control is the length of the vibration. Boooring.
The Future Of Haptic Feedback
Earlier this week, I met with marketing execs from Immersion, which makes software for those haptic motors that let your handset vibrate.
When Gingerbread was launched back in December of last year, we learned that one of its main selling points was Near Field Communication (NFC) support, which allowed for NFC-enabled devices to communicate when placed near each other.
Using your Android phone as a credit card or sharing information by bringing 2 devices close to each other seemed like a dream come true until we found that NFC support in Gingerbread was actually quite limited - writing/transmitting was not possible and only a limited subset of reading APIs was available.
Honeycomb is one of the biggest updates in Android history, so naturally, I jumped at the chance to try it out via the newly released Android 3.0 "preview SDK." What I found certainly wasn't disappointing - though it's important to remember that this is just a preview, meaning that not everything is in working order (for example, the emulator is so slow it made me want to tear my hair out at times, not to mention the frequent force close messages).
The Honeycomb SDK preview, allowing everyone to take a peek and play around with Honeycomb using the Android emulator, was launched yesterday, but after we got past the initial excitement, we found that the emulator itself was dog slow and pretty much unusable. In fact, it was so frustrating to use it that I wanted to punch walls and rip out my hair after 5 minutes with it. And I'm not even going to talk about orientation problems - how the Android team managed to ship the SDK with orientation broken by default (there is a fix for it in the Settings > Display) is beyond me and beyond the scope of this article.
The Android team sure has a sense of humor. Previously, in the Froyo SDK, besides tons of awesome code, they've also added a function called wtf() (What a Terrible Failure) and an even more hilarious isUserAMonkey() that returns true if the user interface is currently being messed with by a monkey.
Examining the Honeycomb SDK docs released earlier today, armed with a hint from Roman Nurik, I found the following gem: fyiWillBeAdvancedByHostKThx().
The Android Developers Blog just announced the availability of a "preview" of the upcoming Android 3.0 SDK. Developers can start getting their Honeycomb on immediately, as the preview is available via the Android SDK and AVD manager as part of the Android SDK.
But even more exciting is the fact that the Android Developers page has been updated with a plethora of information regarding Honeycomb and its features. Where to begin?
If there's one thing CES told us about the upcoming twelve months in technology, it's that 2011 will be the year of Android tablets. And with noteworthy entries such as the Motorola XOOM, ASUS' lineup, and the T-Mobile G-Slate, it looks like the tablets' quality might be just as high as their quantity - at least hardware-wise.
But what about the software? After all, isn't a device's OS what makes or breaks it?