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At Last! Android 2.3 SDK Drops, Nexus S Revealed

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At Last! Android 2.3 SDK Drops, Nexus S Revealed

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I'm sure it has been an agonizing wait for Android developers, knowing that Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" was on the cusp of release for several weeks (once we saw that giant gingerbread man, we knew it was coming).  Well agonize no longer!  The Gingerbread SDK/NDK is here!  And so are details about the Nexus S!

What's New?!?

More Game Development Power: Android 2.3 has improved the overall responsiveness of applications with a new concurrent garbage collector.  They've also optimized the platforms overall event handling and allowed developers to natively access more parts of the system by exposing a large set of native APIs.  Applications can now access the following through native code:

  • EGL/OpenGL ES
  • OpenSL ES
  • Input and sensor events
  • Assets
  • A new framework for managing lifecycle and windows

Finally, Android 2.3 adds support for gyroscope sensing and a few other new sensor types.

Easy Debug Package Generation: Developers will get a much more efficient workflow with new features that allow easy generation of debug packages without having to manually configure the application’s manifest.

Obfuscation Help:  Gingerbread now comes with ProGuard pre-packaged in the SDK tools.  This allows developers to obfuscate their code as an integrated part of a release build.

Sexy New UI Builder (Preview): Android 2.3 currently has an early release of the new visual layout editor.  It lets devs create layouts in ADT with drag-and-droppable UI elements from contextual menus.  Google says they're working fast to finish this feature up.  They've also improved the HierarchyViewer tool with an updated UI and accessibility directly from the ADT Plugin.  I know there was some speculation that there'd be a complete ground-up UI redesign for Android 2.3, but now we know from Google that the redesign is arriving in the next version, Honeycomb.

Video Enrichment:
Gingerbread adds support for new video formats, encoding, and audio effects:

  • WebM (with VP8)
  • AAC and AMR-wideband encoding
  • Reverb
  • Equalization
  • Bass boost
  • Headphone virtualization

New Communication Goodies: The addition of SIP/VoIP, Near Field Communications (NFC), and front-facing camera support should facilitate a lot of cool new communication methods and apps.  Google version of FaceTime perhaps?  (of course, there's always been Skype)

Nexus S

Debuting December 16th, Nexus S will be the first phone to ship with Gingerbread installed.  Unlike Nexus One, which was built by HTC from scratch, this one is built by Samsung and based on their Galaxy S handset.  It has front and rear facing cameras, a 1GHz Hummingbird processor, 16GB of internal memory, a gyroscope, and NFC reading.  From the reviews I've read, it's definitely an upgrade compared to many Android phones and many are calling it the 'purest' Android experience.  The built-in Google Apps and better noise cancellation give it an edge over the iPhone 4 in those areas.  Plus, their advertisements are looking better and better:

I know you all want the deeper development goodies so head on over to the official Android development website to get the full documentation of changes.  

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