Saturday, May 22, 2010

Android 2.2 Highlights, A developer's perspective

Android 2.2 is the most significant upgrade to the Android OS that I can remember. Chock full of new goodies for both users and developers.

I thought I'd just do a quickie post to highlight the features for developers I'm most interested in.

1) Android Cloud to Device Messaging - this is one feature that's been sorely lacking from the Android platform and it's a welcomed addition. The demo at Google IO demonstrated how you can push a message to a device in real time, and have it fire off an Intent which can kick off any number of interesting and yet to be dreamed of services. This also opens up a new way for devices to communicate with each other in real time over the internet, I expect interesting things to come of this.

2) Android Application Error Reports - logging exceptions remotely that occur on a users device is a very useful thing and every mobile company I've worked at has done this in some form or another. The typically way to do it is to override the default exception handler and replace it with something that will log the exception. I myself just started building a new  GAE project for this a few weeks ago The initial usefulness of this will be somewhat limited, due to the fact that many devices are going to be running older versions of android for the foreseeable future.

3) Stagefright media framework - I don't know much about Stagefright, I'll admit that right off the bat, what I do know is that I'm dreadfully tired with the limitations of the current MediaPlayer framework, and I'm really hopeful this can serve as an improvement / replacement for the API's we've been using up til now.

And lastly, I'd also like to mention the new support for Android Library Projects that are available in the newest SDK tools (SDK Tools r6). We will finally be able to share common resources between multiple projects, and since it's just build time magic, these new library projects are going to be backwards compatible with older platform versions.

Wrapping up, I'm really excited about android 2.2.  Google has really raised the bar with this release, and it's going to be interesting to see how other mobile technologies evolve in response to this.