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Android 3.0 SDK released as Xoom starts countdown

Feb 23, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Google released the final Android 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) SDK to developers, offering a number of enhancements compared to last month's preliminary build, including UI Builder improvements in the ADT Plugin. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless and Motorola will launch the first Honeycomb tablet, the Motorola Xoom, on Feb. 24, and Adobe says the Xoom will receive a Flash Player 10.2 update in late March.

On Feb. 22, Google made its full Android 3.0 software development kit (SDK) available to developers, more than three weeks after shipping a rough preview version to give developers a taste of the tablet-oriented "Honeycomb" build. The APIs are final, which means developers can write apps for the platform and publish them to Google's Android Market store.

Unlike previous iterations of Android developed for smartphones, the Honeycomb build is specifically for helping developers write apps for the larger screen size form factor of tablets.

Android 3.0 main screen from preliminary SDK build
(Click to enlarge)

In the blog announcement, Android SDK Tech Lead Xavier Ducrohet said there have been several improvements to the SDK since its initial run-through. These include UI Builder improvements in the ADT Plugin, and a new app palette with categories and rendering previews. Other touted enhancements include more accurate rendering of layouts, selection-sensitive action bars, and zoom improvements.

Honeycomb (logo shown at right), is arguably the most important Android build since the first version launched on T-Mobile's G1 smartphone in 2008. This is because Google intends the platform, which features a 3D graphics rendering engine and new application tools called fragments, to define the market for Android tablets to come.

Flash Player 10.2 heading for Xoom by late March

With a 10.1-inch screen, Motorola's Xoom will launch Feb. 24 as the first Honeycomb tablet. The tablet will cost $800 unsubsidized for a 3G/Wi-Fi version from Verizon Wireless and Best Buy, or $600 with a two-year contract from Verizon.

On Feb. 21, Adobe confirmed that its tablet-optimized Flash Player 10.2 will be available on the Xoom as an OTA update in late March. The announcement clarified a Verizon Wireless ad posted a few hours before that said that Flash 10.2 wouldn't appear on Android tablets until this spring. (Assuming the OTA update comes on or after March 21, Verizon may have been technically correct after all.)

As Wayne Rash notes in a Feb. 22 eWEEK analysis of the Xoom launch, Verizon Wireless is jumping out ahead in the tablet market by not only offering the Xoom (pictured at left), but also the hot selling Apple iPad and Android 2.2-based Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Other Android 3.0 tablets from Toshiba, LG, Asus, and others will follow in the coming months. In fact, a faster 1.2GHz, 4G version of the Galaxy Tab is heading for Verizon later this year.

Meanwhile, eWEEK's Don Reisinger argues in "Motorola Xoom is the perfect iPad competitor: 10 reasons why" that being the first Honeycomb tablet is only one reason why the Xoom is considered the leading contender against the iPad. Other advantages over the iPad are said to include a faster dual-core processor, dual cameras, and in a few months, 4G support.


The final Android 3.0 SDK is now available for free download. The announcement, with links to downloads may be found at the Android Developers site.

Clint Boulton is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.

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