Google has just released Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) preview SDK and platform highlights.
New UI designed from the ground up for tablets (larger screens)
- System Bar, for global status and notifications
- Action Bar, for application control: access to contextual options, navigation, widgets, or other types of content in the Action Bar, displayed at the top of the screen.
- Five Customizable Home screens with widgets, app shortcuts, and wallpapers using a dedicated visual layout mode.
- Recent Apps, for easy visual multitasking
- Redesigned keyboard to improve typing speed/accuracy on tablets.
- Improved text selection, copy and paste
- New connectivity options such as Media/Photo Transfer Protocol, USB / Bluetooth keyboards
- Updated set of standard apps for larger screens.
- Browser Improvements: Multi-tabs support, “incognito” mode, better browsing experience at non-mobile sites through an improved zoom and viewport model, overflow scrolling, support for fixed positioning, and more.
- Camera and Gallery: The Camera application has been redesigned for quick access to exposure, focus, flash, zoom, front-facing camera, etc… The Gallery application lets users view albums and other collections in full-screen mode, with easy access to thumbnails for other photos in the collection.
- Contacts: The Contacts app uses a new two-pane UI and Fast Scroll to let users easily organize and locate contacts.
- Email: As for the Contacts app, the Email application uses a new two-pane UI in order to make viewing and organizing messages more efficient. Users can keep track of email using a home screen Widget.
- New UI framework for creating tablet apps
- Activity fragments, for greater control of content and design flexibility. For example, an application can use a set of Fragments to create a true multipane UI, with the user being able to interact with each pane independently. Fragments can be added, removed, replaced, and animated inside an Activity dynamically, and they are modular and reusable across multiple Activities. Because they are modular, Fragments allows developers to write applications that can run properly on both larger screen as well as smaller screen devices.
- Redesigned UI widgets. The new UI widgets are redesigned for use on larger screens such as tablets and incorporate the new holographic UI theme. Widget types available includes a 3D stack, a search box, a date/time picker, number picker, calendar, popup menu, and others.
- Expanded Home screen widgets. Developers can now use more standard UI widget types home screen widgets, including widgets that let users flip through collections of content as 3D stacks, grids, or lists. Touch gestures can be used to scroll and flip the content displayed in a widget.
- Persistent Action Bar. The Action Bar will always be shown at the top of the screen and is customizable per application.
- Richer notifications. Android 3.0 extends notifications’ capabilities, letting developers include richer content and control more properties.
- Multiselect, clipboard, and drag-and-drop. For managing collections of items in lists or grids, developers can offer a new multiselect mode that lets users choose multiple items for an action. Developers can also use a new system-wide Clipboard to let users easily copy any type of data into and out of their applications (DragEvent framework).
- High-performance 2D and 3D graphics
- New animation framework. The platform includes a flexible new animation framework that lets developers easily animate the properties of UI elements such as Views, Widgets, Fragments, Drawables, or any arbitrary object.
- Hardware-accelerated 2D graphics. Android 3.0 offers a new hardware-accelerated OpenGL renderer that gives a performance boost to many common graphics operations for applications running in the Android framework. When the renderer is enabled, most operations in Canvas, Paint, Xfermode, ColorFilter, Shader, and Camera are accelerated.
- Renderscript 3D graphics engine. Renderscript is a runtime 3D framework that provides both an API for building 3D scenes as well as a special, platform-independent shader language for maximum performance.
- Support for multicore processor architectures.
Android 3.0 is the first version of the platform designed to run on either single or multicore processor architectures such as NVidia Tegra 2. These optimizations can benefit all applications, even those that are single-threaded. For example, with two active cores, a single-threaded application might still see a performance boost if the Dalvik garbage collector runs on the second core. The system will arrange for this automatically.
- Rich multimedia and connectivity
- HTTP Live streaming. M3U playlist URL are now supported.
- Pluggable DRM framework. Android 3.0 includes an extensible DRM framework that lets applications manage protected content. The DRM API is uniform and does not depend on the DRM platform.
- Digital media file transfer. Support for Media/Picture Transfer Protocol (MTP/PTP) over USB.
- More types of connectivity. API support for Bluetooth A2DP and HSP profiles lets applications query Bluetooth profiles for connected devices, audio state, and more, then notify the user.
- Enhancements for enterprise
In Android 3.0, developers of device administration applications can support new types of policies, including policies for encrypted storage, password expiration, password history, and password complex characters required.
- Compatibility with existing apps
Android 3.0 is fully compatible with applications developed for earlier versions of the platform, or for smaller screen sizes.
The complete and detailed platform highlights are available on Android Developer website.
Google has released Android 3.0 Preview SDK. However, Android 3.0 SDK is not final, and the API can still changed until it is formally released.
The preview SDK includes:
- An early Android 3.0 system image for use in the Android emulator
- An Android 3.0 library with non-final APIs
- A new WXGA emulator skin for an extra large Android Virtual Device
- New documentation for Android 3.0, including a complete API reference, new developer guides, and an API differences report between Android 3.0 and 2.3.
You can still build an application based on Android 3.0 SDK, but you won’t be able to publish it for now. You may need a powerful PC to run the emulator since the emulator screen is larger and ARM instructions set must be decoded.
If you have already installed Android development environment, you can install Android 3.0 SDK by launching Android SDK and AVD Manager (from the start menu or Eclipse*) and installing the following components:
- SDK Platform Android Honeycomb Preview
- Android SDK Tools, revision 9
- Android SDK Platform-tools, revision 2
- Documentation for Android ‘Honeycomb’ Preview
- Samples for SDK API Honeycomb Preview
Make sure you install the documentation (available in
index.html) since this is not available right now on Android Developer website.
*Update: I could not install it with Eclipse in Windows, since it failed to move some folders or files in C:\Program Files\Android\android-sdk-windows\platform-tools, so I just used the install script in the start menu Android SDK Tools->SDK Manager
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.