Google announces Android 1.5 features

April 15, 2009 | 10:14

Tags: #android #android-15 #bluetooth #sdk #smartphone #youtube

Companies: #google

Anyone hoping to see dramatic improvements in Google's Android mobile platform will be enthused to hear that a sneak peek version of Android 1.5's software development kit has been made available.

According to an article over on Gizmodo, the next major version of the Linux-based mobile platform is set to bring a veritable plethora of goodies – some pretty fundamental, some just nice to have.

In the nice to have category are such things as animated window transitions – which will be disabled by default to avoid bringing slower devices to their knees – and general polish to the user interface of all internal applications and programs. Applications will also be able to sense screen orientation via the internal accelerometer and lay themselves out accordingly – similar to the iPhone and Symbian S60 GUI.

The OS has been given an overhaul in the performance department as well, with assisted GPS allowing the in-built GPS system to get a location lock much faster than previous iterations. The camera has had its startup and image capture times shaved as well, and the browser now features far smoother page scrolling.

Perhaps the most asked-for feature will finally arrive with Android 1.5: an on-screen software-based keyboard available in both portrait and landscape orientation, which finally does away with the need to rotate the device and slide out the hardware keyboard simply to enter a single line of text.

The home screen has also been updated with support for the ever popular “widgets” - by default, Andriod 1.5's home screen's widgets will include an analogue clock, a calendar, a simple music player, a customisable picture frame, and a Google-powered search box.

Android-based devices with a camera will now be able to record video, and play back captures in both MPEG-4 and 3GP formats. Neatly, the video recording functionality includes the ability to upload captured video to Google's YouTube video sharing service without the need to transfer it to a host computer first. To go with the new video capabilities, audio has been upgraded to include support for the A2DP and AVCRP Bluetooth audio profiles, and the hands-free operation has been given a tweak.

As well as the improved scrolling speed, the browser has been update to the latest Webkit engine, and copy and past functionality has finally been introduced – as has the ability to search for text within a page. The Squirrelfish Javascript engine has also had an overhaul which promises better compatibility and performance on script-heavy sites.

With the underlying Linux kernel updated, and neat internal features like filesystem checking and automatic repair on the SD card slot enabled, it's clear that Google certainly hasn't been resting on its laurels.

Does it look like the 1.5 update will finally get you interested in an Android-based device, or does Google still have some way to go before you give up your Mac OS X, Symbian, or Windows Mobile based smartphone? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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