Google's Android mobile operating system team Oct. 27 released Android 2.0, the long-awaited build also known as ??Â½clair that is expected to appear first on the Motorola Droid smartphone from Verizon Wireless Nov. 6.
The Android 2.0 SDK (software development kit) features new APIs for sync, account manager and contacts. These programming interfaces will allow Android developers to write applications that allow users to sync their devices to various contact sources.
Specifically, the sync adapter API supports two-way contact sync to any back end, the account manager API lets developers centrally store user credential information on phones and the contacts API supports syncing and aggregates e-mail and contact data from multiple accounts, including Exchange.
What features will users get from the Android 2.0 build?
A new feature called Quick Contact lets users instantly contact each other. For example, a user can tap a contact photo to call, SMS (Short Message Service) or e-mail the person. E-mail, messaging and calendar applications can also be programmed to surface the Quick Contact widget when users touch a contact photo or status icon.
There is a combined inbox feature to let users browse e-mail from multiple accounts in one page, as well as the ability to search all saved SMS and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) messages and automatically delete the oldest messages in a conversation when a defined limit is reached. New calendar features allow infinite scrolling, while events will indicate the attending status for each invitee and give the ability to invite new guests to events.
The virtual keyboard is easier to use, while a new browser URL bar enables users to directly tap the address bar for instant searches and navigation. There is also browser support for HTML5. A new Bluetooth API supports Bluetooth 2.1 and enables developers to add peer-to-peer connectivity or gaming to their applications. Android's camera functionality has been greatly improved, supporting built-in flash, digital zoom, scene mode and other changes.
Google's Android team provided this video demo of the features.
Current developers can use the SDK Manager to add Android 2.0 support to their SDK as well as update their SDK Tools to Revision 3, which is required for the new build and features Mac OS X 10.6 support. New developers can download the Android SDK from the download site.
Android SDK Tech Lead Xavier Ducrohet said Google expects to see more and more Android devices being released, running Android 1.5, 1.6 or 2.0. Moreover, the Android team will release a "minor" version update of Android 2.0 toward the end of the year as the last update for 2009.
Ducrohet is asking programmers to download the Android 2.0 platform and make sure their existing applications continue to work on new devices running Android 2.0. He particularly urged developers to be certain their Android applications work when using the WVGA and FWVGA emulator skins, as he said he expects devices with these types of screen to be launched soon, running Android 2.0.
Speaking of devices built on Android 2.0, the first in a series of Droid smartphones runs the latest Android build and is expected to launch Nov. 6 on the Verizon Wireless network, according to the Boy Genius Report. Others are reporting different due dates for the Droid.
The Motorola-designed phone is receiving rave reviews early on, as well as sparking a lot of hope that programmers will be able to write hot applications for a winning mobile platform that isn't Apple's iPhone.