Google recently launched their new update 4.0.3 for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS. While this may be mildly exciting for some consumers, it is the new SDK tools that developers cannot wait to get their hands on. Many changes and additions have been made in this update as well as some bug fixes and optimizations for mobile phones and tablets. In this article I will give you the scoop on the new release features so you can begin working them into your applications.
For Android developers you will be happy to hear that new APIs are on their way and the new API level is 15. This identifier allows the system to correctly determine whether an application will be compatible with the system prior to installing. The 4.0.3 platform is available as a downloadable component for the Android SDK and it includes a fully compliant Android library and system image as well as a set of emulator skins and sample applications, listed below.
This updated version comes with new improvements to many areas and new kinds of attendees and states have been added for facilitating an easier tracking process. Here are the changes you can expect:
- Calendar Provider – A new class
CalendarContract.Colorshas been added to represent a color table. The class provides fields for accessing colors for a given account. Colors are referenced by
COLOR_KEYwhich must be unique for a given account name and type. These values are only available to update by the sync adapter
- Spell-Checking – If your app accesses the spell-checker services, a new
cancel()method is available to cancel any pending and running spell-check tasks.
- Bluetooth – There are new public methods:
getUuids()that let apps determine the features (UUIDs) supported by a remote device.
- Graphics – A new method in SurfaceTexture,
setDefaultBufferSize(int, int)allows you to set the default size of the image buffer. You can use this method to set the image size with
- Text-to-speech – The new method getFeatures() allows for the querying and enabling of network features for TTS support. A new listener class has been added that engines can register to and receive notification of speech errors.
- Camera – Location information can now be retrieved from images or video using the MediaMetadataRetriever. The
CamcorderProfilenow adds the QVGA (320X240) resolution and quality level. You can also check and manage the video stabilization for a Camera using several new methods.
- Permissions – Read and write permissions can be changed to allow a sync adapter to change social stream data to a contact in the shared Contacts Provider.
- Social Stream Contacts Provider – Apps that use the social stream data can now sync that data with each of the user’s contacts. It also provides items in a stream along with photos for each. Information on the database structure for the social stream or read/write instructions can be found at page linked at the end.
- Accessibility – Many new updates to accessibility. Clients of
RemoteViewscan now use the method
setContentDescription()to set and get the content description of any View in the layout or use the new scrolling methods to allow apps to get and set the maximum scroll offset for an
AccessibilityRecordobject. A new secure setting:
ACCESSIBILITY_SPEAK_PASSWORDwill indicate whether the user wants the TTS to speak text entered into password fields, even when a headset is not in use. By default the password text is not spoken unless a headset is in use.
Additionally, home screen widgets should no longer include their own padding since the system will now add padding for each widget based on the characteristics of the screen and there have been need categories added for targeting common types of applications on the device such as the App Browser, Calendar and Maps.
The system image included in the downloadable platform provides these built-in applications for testing purposes:
- API Demos
- Custom Locale
- Dev Tools
- Gestures Builder
- Speech Recorder
- Widget Preview
Among other changes, this update mobile platform includes incremental improvements in graphics, database, spell-checking, Bluetooth and many others. The updates to the Social Stream will allow applications to access the status updates and check-ins of your contacts and to sync that data with your contacts. This should simplify the browsing process when viewing your social stream.
Moving forward, 4.0.3 will be considered the base version of Android Ice Cream Sandwich and you should begin testing your apps on phones and tablets in the weeks ahead to make sure they are compatible. To get started developing or testing on the new platform, you can download it into your SDK using the Android SDK manager, found here:
For a complete overview of the updates, please see: