Apr 13th, 2009

The next release of Android will be version1.5 and Google has just announced that the 1.5 Early Look SDK is now available so developers can start messing around will all the new features of the platform itself. With the upcoming launch of several Android Phones, the 1.5 SDK also includes capabilities that will allow developers to more easily make applications that seamlessly across different versions and locations:


The bottom line is that you can create many emulator configurations, or “AVDs”, each with their own system image and, more importantly, each with their own user data and SD card data. Then tell Eclipse or the emulator which AVD to use when debugging or running your applications.”

Android Developer and Phandroid Contributor Joey Sochacki broke that down in layman’s terms:

“The cool thing about that is, you can define a bunch of AVDs and have tons of different ‘device setups’ so to speak to test on. Different resolutions, different API level, different sd card, different hardware, etc… so when new devices come out, you add a new avd for it and then test against that one.”

So for us non-technical types, what the heck is an AVD?

“An Android Virtual Device (AVD) models a single virtual device running the Android platform that has, at least, its own kernel, system image and data partition.”

The more burning question is probably what will the Android 1.5 SDK enable developers to do on the application side in terms of features and whatnot – but the ins and outs of that question won’t be explored until some devs dive into the Early Look ADK. And Google reminds us several times that it is JUST that (an ealry look) and changes to the official 1.5 SDK can and likely will be made.

But until these developers get some practical, hands on experience with the new SDK, Google has graced us with a full list of improvements and updates, pasted below:

Android 1.5 Highlights

April 2009

The Android 1.5 platform introduces many new features for users and developers. The list below provides an overview of the changes.

User interface refinements

  • System-wide:
    • Refinement of all core UI elements
    • Animated window transitions (off by default)
    • Accelerometer-based application rotations
  • UI polish for:
    • In-call experience
    • Contacts, Call log, and Favorites
    • SMS & MMS
    • Browser
    • Gmail
    • Calendar
    • Email
    • Camera & Gallery
    • Application management

Performance improvements

  • Faster Camera start-up and image capture
  • Much faster acquisition of GPS location (powered by SUPL AGPS)
  • Smoother page scrolling in Browser
  • Speedier GMail conversation list scrolling

New features

  • On-screen soft keyboard
    • Works in both portrait and landscape orientation
    • Support for user installation of 3rd party keyboards
    • User dictionary for custom words
  • Home screen
    • Widgets
      • Bundled home screen widgets include: analog clock, calendar, music player, picture frame, and search
    • Live folders
  • Camera & Gallery
    • Video recording
    • Video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats)
  • Bluetooth
    • Stereo Bluetooth support (A2DP and AVCRP profiles)
    • Auto-pairing
    • Improved handsfree experience
  • Browser
    • Updated with latest Webkit browser & Squirrelfish Javascript engines
    • Copy ‘n paste in browser
    • Search within a page
    • User-selectable text-encoding
    • UI changes include:
      • Unified Go and Search box
      • Tabbed bookmarks/history/most-visited screen
  • Contacts
    • Shows user picture for Favorites
    • Specific date/time stamp for events in call log
    • One-touch access to a contact card from call log event
  • System
    • New Linux kernel (version 2.6.27)
    • SD card filesystem auto-checking and repair
    • SIM Application Toolkit 1.0
  • Google applications
    • View Google Talk friends’ status in Contacts, SMS, MMS, GMail, and Email applications
    • Batch actions such as archive, delete, and label on Gmail messages
    • Upload videos to Youtube
    • Upload photos on Picasa

New APIs and developer tools

  • UI framework
    • Framework for easier background/UI thread interaction
    • New SlidingDrawer widget
    • Horizontal ScrollView widget
  • Home Screen framework
    • APIs for creating secure home screen widgets
    • APIs for populating live folders with custom content
  • Media framework
    • Raw audio recording and playback APIs
    • Interactive MIDI playback engine
    • Video recording APIs for developers (3GP format)
    • Video and photo sharing Intents
    • Media search Intent
  • Input Method framework
    • Text prediction engine
    • Ability to provide downloadable IMEs to users
  • Speech recognition framework
    • Support for using speech recognition libraries via Intent
  • Misc API additions
    • LocationManager – Applications can get location change updates via Intent
    • WebView – Touch start/end/move/cancel DOM event support
    • SensorManager – redesigned sensor APIs
    • GLSurfaceView – convenience framework for creating OpenGL applications
    • Broadcast Intent for app update install succeeded – for smoother app upgrade experience
  • Developer tools
    • Support for multiple versions of Android in a single SDK installation
    • Improved JUnit support in ADT
    • Easier application performance profiling

What do we find most exciting about these updates? How about ALL the UI and Permormance Improvements along with ON-SCREEN SOFT KEYBOARD, live folders and other great widgets, video recording with upload to youtube…. okay suffice to say EVERYTHING. This is just going to be an AWESOME update.

How about from a developer’s point of view – what in here is most compelling to them? Joey mentioned the following:
  • Text prediction engine, Support for using speech recognition libraries via Intent
  • AVD, Raw audio recording and playback APIs, Video recording APIs for developers (3GP format), SIM toolkit (STK)

And there you have it… Android 1.5 SDK is on the way and looking good… you heard it here first!

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