updated 04:50 pm EST, Wed February 13, 2008
Google Android SDK Revamp
Google today surprised developers by issuing a major overhaul of its Android SDK, the developers' kit for its new mobile operating system. Though referred to just as the m5-rc14 release, the software reveals a major change to the user interface that significantly scales back similarities to Apple technology in its look and feel. The Mac OS X-like dock at the bottom has been replaced with a tray of buttons that bring users directly to the features they like. Other elements such as the full-page web browser and Google Maps are also now more complete and share less of a direct similarity, screenshots show.
The upgrade also takes to heart developer complaints about the software and includes several major but less visible upgrades: in addition to easier development of layouts, any app can now translate addresses to map coordinates and back. Audio formats such as MIDI and OGG are now also built-in, according to Google.
Android's upgrade brings the Linux-based platform much closer to production quality for its expected release, which should start with handsets in the second half of the year from companies such as HTC, Motorola, LG, and Samsung. Most of these devices are understood to focus heavily on Internet access and are expected to include some models with GPS and touchscreens.