Google Android 1.5 SDK Rolls Out

The Google Android 1.5 SDK launches two weeks after developers were given an early look at the open-source mobile operating system. Although initially designed for use in smartphones, Android seems poised to become a major presence as an OS for mininotebooks, aka netbooks. Rumor has it that Microsoft will also compete in that same netbook space with a stripped-down version of its upcoming Windows 7.

Google Android 1.5 SDK Release 1 is now available.

The new SDK, released to developers on April 27 and available for download here, is based on the "Cupcake" branch of the Android Open Source project, and includes APIs for new and improved features such as home screen widgets, home screen framework, media framework, input method framework and speech recognition framework.

It also features a refinement of core user interface elements, accelerometer-based application rotations and a UI polish for an in-call experience, among other details.

On April 14, Google rolled out an early look at the Google Android 1.5 SDK for developers. The platform offered tools such as faster Gmail conversation list scrolling and UI refinements to the browser and other elements.

Given that the SDK features a different component structure than earlier Android SDK releases, older Eclipse plug-ins (ADT 0.8) are not compatible. The big change, however, is that with this rollout, tools and documentation for the new SDK are complete.

Android made its debut in August 2008 and, while originally intended as a smartphone OS, it seems on the verge of making a leap to more widespread use in mininotebooks, aka netbooks, and other computing devices. According to predictions, Android will be running on about 12 percent of global smartphone shipments by 2012.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in a quarterly earnings call on April 16, predicted that Android would have a "very, very strong year" in 2009, adding, "We are already aware of many, many uses of Android, which as [you] know is open source ... the open-source part of the strategy is working."

Schmidt also hinted at Android's future netbook expansion. "On the netbook side, there are a number of people who have actually taken Android and ported it over to netbook or netbook-similar devices," he said. "We're excited that that investment is occurring."

Companies such as T-Mobile, Acer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard have been planning laptop-focused applications for the Android OS. Google faces competition in the netbook operating system arena later in 2009, however, should Microsoft make good on rumors that a version of Windows 7 with a smaller OS footprint for netbooks will be rolling out this year.

IDC estimated that netbook shipments will grow from 11.4 million in 2008 to 22 million in 2009.