Google previews tablet-optimized Android 3.0

Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from Network World.

Google released a preview of the software development kit for Android 3.0, which has been designed specifically for mobile devices with larger screens, particularly tablets.

The Android SDK also will support new administrative policies aimed at managing and securing enterprise tablet deployments, such as encrypted storage and password expiration.

The announcement came in a Wednesday blog post by Xavier Ducrohet, Android SDK Tech Lead. “We’ll be releasing a final SDK in the weeks ahead that you can use to build and publish applications for Android 3.0,” Ducrohet writes.

Google has been showing off the latest builds of the 3.0 release, dubbed Honeycomb, for a couple of months. An initial screening was offered in May 2010 at the Google I/O conference.

Android 3.0 will feature a new “holographic” user interface theme, with a range of new features. For developers, Honeycomb will offer tools for building new applications for the larger-format devices, and for adapting existing Android apps to the new UI. Honeycomb’s highlights can be viewed online.

With the preview SDK, developers finally can start testing existing applications to see how they play on the tablet form factor, and get used to the new features and APIs in 3.0. Ducrohet writes that the SDK’s APIs and system image are “non-final” so developers may see changes in both before 3.0 is finally available. Details on the preview release can be found online.

The preview SDK includes an array of new UI components and themes, and “richer” widgets and notifications. Drag-and-drop is enabled.

A lot of work has been done to support advanced and more powerful graphics. Honeycomb includes a property-based animation framework. There is also a “built-in GL renderer that lets developers request hardware-acceleration of common 2D rendering operations in their apps, across the entire app or only in specific activities or views.” There is a new 3D graphics engine, Renderscript.

Honeycomb will be able to run on dual-core as well as single-core processors, and has been optimized to both.

The tablet Android supports new multimedia features, including HTTP Live streaming support. There is also a new digital rights management (DRM) framework. Rich content sharing is enabled via MTP/PTP (Media Transfer Protocol/Picture Transfer Protocol) to give developers new ways to bring rich content to users.

Android 3.0 includes new APIs for Bluetooth Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), for streaming stereo-quality audio from a media source to a headset or speakers, and Bluetooth Headset Profile (HSP), for letting a Bluetooth headset connect to another Bluetooth radio on a computer or mobile phone.

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