18 August 2008

Announcing a beta release of the Android SDK

I'm pretty happy today, for two reasons. First, I'm happy because I get to let everyone know that we're releasing a beta SDK. You can read about the new Android 0.9 SDK beta at the Android Developers' Site, or if you want to get straight to the bits, you can visit the download page. Once you've got it, be sure to visit our Developer Forum if you have any questions.

Back in November, we made some SDK builds available that we referred to as "early look" SDKs. The goal was to give developers insight into the platform as early on as possible, and to get some initial feedback. Since then, we've been working with our Open Handset Alliance partners to incorporate much of that feedback, and finish the first devices. Since those devices are shipping in the fourth quarter, the platform is now converging on a final "Android 1.0" version.

The beta SDK that we're releasing today is the first big step on the SDK's road to compatibility with 1.0. Since this is a beta release, applications developed with it may not quite be compatible with devices running the final Android 1.0. However, the APIs are now pretty stable and we don't expect any major changes. If you're one of the many developers who were waiting for something a bit more mature, this might be a good time to take another look.

Since we're now moving quickly toward 1.0, it may also help to know which direction we're headed. To help out, we've also prepared a development roadmap. This will be a living document, and we'll keep it up to date as the Android landscape evolves. Currently it covers the next few months, roughly through the end of the year and a bit into next year. We'll update it with additional detail as we are able to, but even right now it can help give you a picture of how things will play out as the first phones draw near.

Enough of that though -- you're probably wondering what's actually new in the SDK. Well, you should read the Release Notes, the Change Overview and the API Delta Report for all the details, but here are a few highlights:

  • First and most obviously, the new Home screen is included, along with a ton of UI changes for 1.0.
  • Some new applications are included: an Alarm Clock, Calculator, Camera, Music player, Picture viewer, and Messaging (for SMS/MMS conversations.)
  • Several new development tools were added, such as a graphical preview for XML layouts for users of Eclipse, and a tool for constructing 9-patch images.
  • Since we've got a new Home screen application now, we thought the now-obsolete version from the M5 early-look SDK might be helpful to developers, so its source is included as a sample.
  • A number of new APIs are fleshed out and improved, and others are now close to their final forms for 1.0.
  • Tons of bugs were fixed, of course. (If you had problems with the MediaPlayer, try it now!)

There are a lot of changes -- the ones in the list above are just my personal favorites, so you should check out the links above for the full story. Not all the changes are additions, though: I'm sorry to say that we had to remove a few things, such as the GTalkService (for security reasons), and the Bluetooth API. There's a bit more detail in the links above, and we'll follow up on those in particular here in this blog to give you the scoop. In fact, we've got a little list of topics we want to talk about here, so stay tuned.

At the top of this post I said I was happy for two reasons, and now you know one of them -- but what about the other? Well, the second reason is because now that this is out I can finally go get some sleep!