Android 2.3 Gingerbread, the latest version of Google's mobile operating system, did not arrive only with novelties aimed at enhancing the user experience, but also with a nice range of enhancements targeted at developers who aimed at building applications for the platform.
There is a new set of APIs available for developers (the Android 2.3 API is Level 9), along with various improvements to make applications faster, native input and sensor events, support for several new sensor types, and more.
“The Android 2.3 API is assigned an integer identifier — 9 — that is stored in the system itself. This identifier, called the "API Level", allows the system to correctly determine whether an application is compatible with the system, prior to installing the application,” Google notes.
Among the sensors that are supported in the new OS version, we can count gyroscope, rotation vector, linear acceleration, gravity, and barometer sensors. The new platform release also comes with a software implementation of Khronos OpenSL ES, along with an interface to its Khronos EGL library.
According to Google, some of the improvements in Gingerbread were aimed mainly at the development of Games for the platform.
“To improve overall responsiveness, we’ve added a new concurrent garbage collector and optimized the platform’s overall event handling. We’ve also given developers native access to more parts of the system by exposing a broad set of native APIs,” the company notes.
“From native code, applications can now access input and sensor events, EGL/OpenGL ES, OpenSL ES, and assets, as well a new framework for managing lifecycle and windows. For precise motion processing, developers can use several new sensor types, including gyroscope.”
Developers would also be able to enjoy native access to assets, storage, as applications can now benefit from a native Asset Manager API, as well as from a native Storage Manager API.
Other changes with the platform are also there to offer an enhanced development environment for application builders, such as the possibility to add SIP-based internet telephony features to software solutions, or to take advantage of the Near Field Communications (NFC) technology when designing their applications.
Richer multimedia features should be available on the new apps built for the platform, through a new audio effects API, support for new media formats (VP8 open video compression and WebM open container), or the new camera API, which offers access to multiple cameras.
The Linux kernel was upgraded to 2.6.35, and there are also some new platform technologies available, including:
- New media framework fully replaces OpenCore, maintaining all previous codec/container support for encoding and decoding.
- Integrated support for the VP8 open video compression format and the WebM open container format
- Adds AAC encoding and AMR wideband encoding
- SIP stack, configurable by device manufacturer
- Support for Near Field Communications (NFC), configurable by device manufacturer
- Updated BlueZ stack
The new Android SDK can be downloaded for Windows computers from here.
The new Android SDK can be downloaded for Mac from here
The new Android SDK can be downloaded for Linux computers from here.