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Google adds Eclair features to Android SDK

Developers can now include features such as peer-to-peer connectivity, multitouch and enhanced contact functionality in their Android applications
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The software development kit for Android now supports the upcoming Android 2.0, or 'Eclair', revision to the mobile operating system.

A new Bluetooth application programming interface (API) in the updated kit will let developers add peer-to-peer connectivity to their applications, Android SDK tech lead Xavier Ducrohet said in a blog post on Tuesday. He also highlighted a new feature called Quick Contact, which makes it possible to embed contact functionality in items such as a picture in an application.

"Using the new sync, account manager and contacts APIs, you can write applications to enable users to sync their devices to various contact sources," Ducrohet wrote. "You can also give users a faster way to communicate with others by embedding Quick Contact within your application. With the new Bluetooth API, you can now easily add peer-to-peer connectivity or gaming to your applications."

The Eclair revision — which follows the 'Donut' Android 1.6 revision that is currently being rolled out to some handsets — brings several new features to Android. A key addition is native support for Microsoft's Exchange email server software. That support has been built into some Android handsets by manufacturers, such as HTC, but it was not officially part of the operating system. In addition, it will be possible to view email from multiple sources in a unified inbox.

Another feature already implemented by handset manufacturers is multitouch input, and this will now be built into the core Android OS. In addition, Eclair will feature a new keyboard layout to allow for faster typing.

The revision will amend calendar functionality to let users have infinite scrolling in the agenda view, and the events feature will indicate whether invitees are attending. The new features also include the following:

  • The browser will have a refreshed user interface, with search functionality built into the address bar
  • Support is included for HTML 5, the latest version of the web coding language
  • Application cache support has been added, so web applications will be able to run without connectivity
  • A new database API has been introduced for client-side databases using SQL
  • A geolocation API makes it possible to provide websites with location information for the handset

Developers can also write applications that integrate the handset's camera more deeply, accessing colour effects, scene modes, flash modes, focus modes, white balance and rotation.

"Over the next few months, we expect to see more and more Android devices being released," Ducrohet wrote in his blog post. "These devices will be running Android 1.5, 1.6 or 2.0. We are also planning a minor version update of Android 2.0 towards the end of the year, and that will be the last update for 2009."

Ducrohet urged developers to download the Android 2.0 platform and check that their applications were compatible with Eclair. He also suggested that their applications should be built to work at resolutions of 800 x 480 pixels (WVGA) and 854 x 480 pixels (FWVGA), saying: "We expect devices with these types of screen, running Android 2.0, to be launched soon".

WVGA resolution can be found on new Android phones such as Acer's Liquid handset, while FWVGA resolution is used in Android-based internet tablets such as the Archos 5.

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