One of the highlights of Samsung's Galaxy Note II announcement at IFA yesterday was the increased functionality carried by the device's hallmark S Pen stylus. The Note II's version of the Pen, besides being "ergonomically designed for the perfect grip," allows users to quickly clip, crop, and edit screen content, adding further illustration and handwritten keyword recognition. The Pen now also features a unique "hover" functionality, whereby an app can recognize that the Pen is near the screen and react accordingly with contextual menus or other activities.
The Android developers' tools team, headed by the usual suspects Xavier Ducrohet and Tor Norbye, led a session at I/O 2012 today dedicated to improvements and new features coming to the tools devs use to make apps - ADT for Eclipse and SDK Tools.
Everything they showed took around an hour of nonstop talking, arm flailing, and cracking jokes about the French, but among all the new goodies one prominently stood out - multi-configuration editing.
Version 2 of the SDK, which has just been announced by Google, now includes full mobile support for both Android and iOS apps, allowing mobile apps to read and write directly to Google Drive. Android Drive users will also be able to choose from a list of supported applications when opening a file from Drive, allowing them to edit files on the go using either a phone or tablet.
Coinciding with the announcement of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Android developers can now pull down a new revision of Android's SDK tools – revision 20, along with a new version of the ADT Plugin, also r20 (which Eclipse users will need to use SDK r20).
The revised SDK tools bring several improvements. One of the notable additions to the SDK tools is System Trace (otherwise known as systrace), a tool (included in Project Butter) that helps monitor system activities, allowing developers to pinpoint graphical rendering or other issues.
Qualcomm, the company behind the S4 processor that so many US devices are receiving as consolation prizes in exchange for LTE, has announced that it will be releasing its own SDK for Snapdragon processors. The SDK will initially support the S4, and continue to support future processors as they're released, supporting multiple tiers of hardware.
The company touts the SDK as enabling developers to more tightly integrate their apps with Qualcomm hardware, as well as enabling access to more powerful hardware features, like so:
- facial processing, such as blink and smile detection, which makes it easier to take better pictures of people in groups;
- burst capture, which leverages zero shutter lag to photograph a stream of images at once to select the best shot;
- surround sound recording for better audio capture;
- hardware echo cancellation for better real-time audio experiences;
- sensor gestures (tap-left/tap-right, push/pull, face-up/face-down, tilt) that enable developers and device makers to push the envelope on new, differentiated user interfaces;
- low power always on geofencing capabilities; and
- indoor location that enables apps to continue providing accurate location information even when the user is indoors.
Back in February, we heard that HTC might be getting PlayStation Certification on some of its phones. Today at E3, Sony announced that it will be opening up the PlayStation Mobile program, which was previously known as PlayStation Suite, to HTC. This means, among other things, that HTC phones that receive PS Certification will be able to play the host of classic PlayStation games available. Additionally, HTC devices will also have access to the third-party apps and games developed using the SDK.
As an Android developer, I like to keep tabs on the tools I use every day, especially ones as important as ADT for Eclipse and SDK Tools. As was the case several times before, the Android team in charge of both of them posted previews of upcoming releases of ADT 20 and SDK Tools r20, available for manual download ahead of the final releases.
Yup, you heard me correctly - 20, not 18 or 19.
In preparation for the upcoming final releases, the Android team today released ADT 17-preview (Android Developer Tools plugin for Eclipse) and SDK Tools r17-preview with the following improvements that eager developers can try out without waiting any longer.
Out of all the additions and changes, I'm mostly excited about the new network usage tool, the fix for the dreaded "Conversion to Dalvik format failed with error 1" error when trying to use Proguard (oh, how many hours I wasted on this one), and the end to default ids for various layout elements.
Recon Instruments, creators of wearable goggle technology powered by Android called MOD Live that we got so excited about at CES 2011, have officially announced the impending release of an SDK for Android, due for launch in May 2012. Recon also announced Polar, the first app made using the SDK, that connects a Polar WearLink+ heart rate monitor to MOD Live and allows the MOD display to become a "biometric reader that delivers an athlete's heart rate in real time while they ski or snowboard."
For those not in the know, the Polar WearLink+ transmitter is essentially a Bluetooth-enabled heart monitor that can send heart rate information to a variety of compatible applications (in this case, the new Polar app).
Samsung's Galaxy Note is an oddity. At 5.3-inches it is clearly too large to be a conventional smartphone, but it is also too small to be a tablet. Adding further to its mysticism, it comes with a stylus, something rarely seen in contemporary touch screen devices. Nevertheless, Samsung has big plans for this device evidenced by their enthusiastic release of the SDK for the S Pen.
The first version of the SDK provides developers with the tools needed to create rich apps that can fully utilise all the functions of the S Pen.