The latest version of Google's popular Android smartphone platform brings some impressive new features for developers to play with.
The iPhone has had a very successful 2009, but while a completely new version of Windows Mobile appears no nearer, Google's Android phone OS team has a plethora of new features planned for version 2.0 of its software, codename 'Eclair' (all versions of Android are codenamed after desserts and other sweet treats; 1.6, the current version, was 'Donut'.)
According to an article over on BetaNews
, one of the key features of Android 2.0 will be interoperability between apps and data on the device. Eclair includes a new API which allows programmers to easily store account credentials for multiple systems.
This gives developers a method of aggregating contact and update information from multiple services - including e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking sites - in a simple manner via the Account Manager API which will form a central part of the 'Eclair' update. Full two-way synchronisation is also included for each service.
The biggest change from the users' perspective will be the front end for the Account Manager API: the Quick Contact screen. This allows any stored contact information for someone within the standard contact list to be pulled up without leaving the main contact screen - and can launch whatever application is necessary in order to make use of the information stored.
The web browser has also had an overhaul, with some neat user interface tweaks, thumbnailed bookmarks, and the ability to double-tap in order to activate or de-activate zooom. HTML 5 support is also present - including access to Android's geolocation API for location-specific services - along with full-screen support for videos.
Bluetooth support has been tweaked to make it easier for third-party applications to access the Bluetooth system, and the camera application introduces support for digital zoom and the technology required to support handsets with integrated flash bulbs.
Developers can snag the initial release of the Android 2.0 software development kit right now.
Interested in getting an Android phone now, or are you still saving for (or paying off) an iPhone? Let us know in the forums!