Developers get early taste of Android 1.5

Looks like the next version of Google's Android OS will actually swallow the features from the "Cupcake" development branch whole, at least that's how it looks from an early peek at the SDK Google made available today. And that's definitely sweet news for developers.

According to the Android Developers blog, the Android 1.5 SDK is based on the Cupcake branch and includes new APIs for several features, including soft keyboards, home screen widgets, live folders and speech recognition. The SDK also includes multiple Android versions, enabling developers to target different Android platforms--say 1.1 and 1.5--from a single SDK.

Chris Ziegler at Engadget says the key to the new version is the new homescreen framework, which lets developers build widgets and populate live folders "with whatever content you can dream up." Plus, the bulk of the new features can be supported on current handsets, no problem:

There's no word on exactly how 1.5 will come to existing Android handsets in the field, but as far as we can tell, there's nothing listed in the changelog that would prevent current hardware from taking full advantage -- and the OHA is going to be releasing a series of articles about new-to-1.5 features in the coming weeks to help devs "prepare your applications for the release of Android 1.5 on phones."

And while this is all welcome news to developers, Google cautions that the sneak peek at the new SDK is just that, and changes may be made before a final SDK version hits the streets:

As a result, it's very important that you don't release applications based on this early-look SDK, since they may not work on real devices. The applications you release should be built on the final Android 1.5 SDK release.

But no worries. Google says the final version will be released by the end of the month. Sweet.

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