Google Finalizes Android 3.0 SDK for Developers

Google shipped the final version of its Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" operating system Feb. 22. This is the version with which developers will write applications for tablets.

Google Feb. 22 made its full Android 3.0 software development kit (SDK) available to developers, more than three weeks after shipping a rough preview version to give developers a taste of the "Honeycomb" build.

The APIs are final, which means developers can write apps for the platform and publish them to Google's Android Market store for free or sale.

Unlike previous iterations of Android developed for powering smartphones, the Honeycomb build is specifically for helping developers write apps for the larger screen size form factor of tablets.

With a 10.1-inch screen, Motorola's Xoom will launch Feb. 24 as the first Honeycomb tablet. The tablet will cost $799 unsubsidized for a 3G/WiFi version from Verizon Wireless and Best Buy, or $599.99 with a two-year contract from Verizon.

Android SDK Tech Lead Xavier Ducrohet said there have been several improvements to the SDK since its initial run-through.

These include UI Builder improvements in the ADT Plugin, a new app palette with categories and rendering previews; more accurate rendering of layouts; selection-sensitive action bars; and zoom improvements, among other perks.

Honeycomb is arguably the most important Android build since the first version launched on T-Mobile's G1 smartphone in 2008.

This is because Google intends the platform, which features a 3D graphics rendering engine and new application tools called fragments, to define the market for Android tablets to come.

Indeed, in addition to Motorola's Xoom, Toshiba, LG, Samsung and several other computer and smartphone makers are expected to launch Honeycomb tablets.

Google Android engineer Mike Cleron offered a sneak peek at these capabilities on the forthcoming Android 3.0-based Motorola Xoom tablet Jan. 6 at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.