Android's awaited update dubbed 'cupcake' which will bring the operating system to v 1.5 has rolled out an early release of its SDK.
Although Android based phones are still lacking, work is on in full force on the Android operating system. With manufacturers left, right and center declaring their support for the platform. In fact some manufacturers have also expressed interest in bringing Android to net books.
Cupcake is Google's answer to iPhone OS 3.0 with some new features that reflect those added to iPhone, along with some new features which are still lacking in the iPhone. The SDK is available for all developers to test, however according to their statement, the API is not yet fixed, and as such it should not be used to develop release applications.
Some of the notable new features to be available in the new version are:
Accelerometer based application rotation: a la iPhone, this mean applications can be made sensitive of the phones orientation and can made to adapt their interface / functioning accordingly.
UI revamps for the core elements, and a lot of the inbuilt applications
Animated window transitions
Performance improvement in the browser, camera, GPS and Gmail
New On-Screen keyboard: very useful for all those touch-phones
Video recording and playback (3gp and MPEG-4): This is an obvios benefit, and something still missing from the iPhone (recording not playback)
Bluetooth improvements: New support of stereo bluetooth, and auto pairing etc.
Browser Improvements: now supports in-browser cut and paste, in-page search, etc. Also the browser engine is updated to the latest version of WebKit with the SquirrelFish java-script engine.
With these new features Android has now gained a clear advantage over the still-to-be-released iPhone v3 OS. Some of these features like video recording, playback and on-screen keyboard are quite essential, while others like the UI revamps and are mostly superficial, however overall it is a significant update.
Android is gaining significant support from vendors now, and it is quite well posed to be THE operating system of tomorrows devices. If indeed it spreads onto the net-book territory, it might even become a serious challenger to Microsoft Windows XP, which is the current popular choice for net-books. For net-books however, in the end the number and quality of applications available will be a huge factor, since the diversity of tasks performed by a net-book will tend to be higher. With a plethora of free and paid application already available for Android though, this will be a close one.