Google releases SDK for latest Android version

The improvements are likely to increase the number of phones the operating system is installed on, an analyst said

Developers can now start working with the software development kit (SDK) for version 1.6 of Google's mobile operating system Android, the company said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Android 1.6, known as Donut, adds support for CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and more screen resolutions plus other features.

The first devices running Donut are expected in October, Google wrote.

The support for CDMA makes the potential market for Android based phones much bigger, especially in the U.S. Operators like Verizon can now add Android phones to their portfolio, according to Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner.

Motorola is supposed to have a phone in the pipeline, she said.

One of the screen resolutions that Android version 1.6 will support is WVGA or up to about 850 × 480 pixels.

That will allow for larger screens, which, for example, the user interface on the Motorola Cliq would have benefitted from, according to Milanesi. Currently, 320 x 480 pixels is the default resolution for Android phones.

"It's good that Google has opened up for several kinds of phones, with different screen sizes and radio access," said Swedish Android developer Staffan Kjellberg. "The larger the market gets, the better."

Other additions in version 1.6 are a new battery usage screen and a redesigned search framework.

The battery usage screen lets users see which applications and services are consuming battery power and then take action to save the battery by adjusting the settings, stopping or uninstalling the application.

The search framework lets users search across multiple sources -- such as browser bookmarks and history, contacts and the Web directly from the home screen, according to Google.

New platform technologies include a text-to-speech engine that can speak English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Also included is support for gestures, which will especially be a boost for game developers, Milanesi said.

Of all the new features, Kjellberg likes the addition of screenshots and reviews to the Android applications marketplace the most. Previously, applications were only described with text.

Android has started to gain some momentum recently. LG and Motorola now have Android smartphones along with Samsung and HTC, which so far has been the Google OS's biggest supporter.

Last year 195,000 Android phones were sold, and this year that number will increase to 3.4 million, according to Gartner.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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