Google's Android team provided some tips to help developers of "Honeycomb" tablet applications to prepare for the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" build next month. There's no SDK yet, though.
(NASDAQ:GOOG) has made no attempt to hush talk of "Ice Cream
Sandwich," the next build of Android that promises to unify elements of
the Android 2.x smartphone branch and Android 3.x "Honeycomb" branch
of the platform for tablets.
development team paved the way for developers Sept. 19 by warning them about
what to expect from the build and how to treat their existing applications
going forward. However, Google stopped short of releasing the much-anticipated Ice
Cream Sandwich software developer kit to enable developers to begin writing applications.
Honeycomb remains tablets-only, the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) release
will support big screens, small screens, and everything in between," wrote Scott Main, lead technical writer for Android
"This is the way Android will stay from now on: the same version runs on
all screen sizes."
that while it is true that some Honeycomb applications were designed to run
solely on a large screen, this will become false with the arrival of ICS
because Android applications are forward-compatible. That is, an application
developed for Honeycomb is compatible with a device running ICS, which could be
a tablet, a phone or perhaps Android-powered TVs.
developers who have written Honeycomb applications to either prevent
installation on smaller screens or support smaller screens with the same
developer kit. Main then provided instructions for how developers might prevent
their applications from being used on phones, whose screens tend to be 3 to 5
developers who want their Honeycomb applications to run on any size device
should update their program to run on smaller screens using a single Android application
package file (APK).
for handsets can be tricky if your designs currently use all of a large screen
to deliver content," Main noted. "It's worth the effort, though,
because Ice Cream Sandwich brings the Honeycomb APIs to handsets, and you'll
significantly increase the user-base for your application. Using a single APK
for all devices also simplifies your updating and publishing process and makes
it easier for users to identify your app."
Honeycomb tablet applications to run smoothly on handsets, he advised
programmers to build their application around Android "fragments,"
code chunks developers can reuse in different combinations. Think in terms of
creating single-pane layouts on handsets and multi-pane layouts on tablets.
that developers won't be able to test their layouts for smaller screens without
a handset running Honeycomb.
But the SDK is
coming in October, so it won't be long before developers can get their hands on
the software package. Accordingly, he warned Android developers not to publish
their changes until they can test them on a device or emulator running ICS.
meantime, Main offered a compromise. Developers can test their alternative
layouts by using the "land" qualifier for tablets.
The first ICS
device is expected to be the Samsung Droid Prime (or Nexus Prime) on Verizon Wireless
slated for a November launch to entice holiday shoppers.
neither Google, Samsung nor Verizon will confirm this rumor. The Prime is
expected to be Verizon's alternative to offering the Samsung Galaxy S II handset.