updated 11:50 pm EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
SDK provides wealth of new capabilities
Google has posted a software development kit for Android 4.0, following a launch event for the updated OS and Samsung's Galaxy Nexus. Developers now will be able to take advantage of a unified UI framework that works across phones, tablets or other devices. The new approach promises to simplify coding and bring a higher level of consistency for developers creating apps for different types of devices.
Smartphone apps can now take advantage of features that have been present in Android 3.x builds for tablets, including resizable home-screen widgets, new notification options, HTTP Live streaming, full device encryption and support for input from keyboards, mice or joysticks.
Other v4.0 improvements include low-level streaming options for flexibility in media apps, along with camera controls for exposure, continuous focus and full-resolution snapshots while capturing video. Developers can also utilize APIs for audio remote controls, new media codecs and containers, and Wi-Fi Direct connections.
Aside from the new capabilities for third-party apps, the latest version of Google's mobile OS brings improvements to the keyboard and voice dictation, a tabbed browser with built-in Chrome Sync, and new multitasking options. Google has worked to refine the UI, prominently presenting common actions and using a new typeface optimized for high-resolution displays.
The OS update brings expanded functionality, with NFC-based sharing for apps, contacts, media files or other content. Users can configure the screen lock to work with facial recognition and front-facing cameras for additional security, while a photo editor is now built into the Gallery app.
The Galaxy Nexus is the first device that will be offered with Android 4.0, though a range of devices are expected to receive updates for the overhauled OS.