Android 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' SDK Released

On Tuesday Google released the software developer kit for its newest version of the Android OS, code-named "Ice Cream Sandwich."

The newest version of Google's mobile OS will start hitting tablets and smartphones in November. In the meantime, developers can get their hands on the SDK, which features a new UI framework.

According to Google, "...the unified UI framework in Android 4.0 means new UI tools, consistent design practices, simplified code and resources, and streamlined development across the range of Android-powered devices."

A key highlight for developers in the newest Android OS version is the improved application programming interface (API) for calendar and contact information, which, according to Google, will make it easier to add calendar services and social media features to created apps.

"We want to see lots of good calendar apps and extensions that work reliably across Android devices, and aren't broken by platform updates," wrote Tim Bray, developer advocate for Google's Android OS, in a blog post "So we decided to create a clean API, including a comprehensive set of Intents, to manage calendar data in ICS. Now anyone can code against these new APIs and know that Android is committed to supporting them, and that partners have to support these APIs as part of CTS."

To incorporate the improved API features, the UI framework also includes a widget called ShareActionProvider, which allows developers to embed action bars and share functionality into apps.

Ice Cream Sandwich  also includes a new feature called Android Beam, which will let developers design ways in which apps can interact with multiple users based on proximity. Users can share information, initiate multiplayer gaming and share media by touching two Android Beam-compatible devices.

On the display end, Android 4.0 will feature a grid-like layout that "improves the performance of Android applications by supporting flatter view hierarchies that are faster to layout and render." It also supports OpenGL ES texture views, making it easier to insert decided videos, embedded camera previews and OpenGL game assets into a desired app.

Google said that Android 4.0 will provide hundreds of new tweaks and added features, aimed at speeding up and simplifying app creation, on the developer side, and making it more user friendly, on the consumer side.

"Android 4.0 builds on the things people love most about Android -- efficient multitasking, rich notifications, customizable home screens, resizable widgets, and deep interactivity -- and adds powerful new ways of communicating and sharing," wrote Bray.

Download Android 4.0 SDK here. 

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.