One of the major announcements from the Google I/O event was the release of the Android version 3.1 platform. Android 3.1 is an incremental release that builds on the tablet-optimized UI and features introduced in Android 3.0. It builds on the same tablet-optimized UI and features offered in Android 3.0 and adds several new capabilities for users and developers.
For developers, the Android 3.1 platform is available as a downloadable component for the Android SDK. The downloadable platform includes an Android library and system image, as well as a set of emulator skins and more. The downloadable platform, however, includes no external libraries.
What does this mean to Users?
Some of the improvements to the user experience include
- UI refinements: The Android 3.1 platform adds a variety of refinements to make the user interface more intuitive and more efficient to use. The Launcher animation is optimized for faster, smoother transition to and from the Apps list. Also, accessibility is improved with consistent audible feedback throughout the UI and a new setting to let users customize the touch-hold interval to meet their needs.
- Connectivity for USB accessories: Android 3.1 adds broad platform support for a variety of USB-connected peripherals and accessories. Applications can build on the platform’s USB support to extend connectivity to almost any type of USB device. The platform also adds new support for USB accessories — external hardware devices designed to attach to Android-powered devices as USB hosts.
- Expanded Recent Apps list: Users can now scroll the list of recent apps vertically to see thumbnail images all of the tasks in progress and recently used apps, then touch a thumbnail to jump back into that task.
- Resizeable Home screen widgets: Users can now resize their Home screen widgets using drag bars provided by the system. Users can expand widgets both horizontally and/or vertically to include more content, where supported by each widget.
- Support for external keyboards and pointing devices: Users can now attach almost any type of external keyboard or mouse to their Android-powered devices, to create a familiar environment and work more efficiently. No special configuration or driver is needed, in most cases. When multiple devices are connected, users can conveniently manage the active keyboard and IME using the keyboard settings that are available from the System bar.
What is in it for developers?
Aside these, developers also get to benefit from the new Android 3.1. The Android 3.1 platform adds refinements and new capabilities that developers can build on, to create powerful and engaging application experiences on tablets and other large-screen devices. Developers can now create Home screen widgets that users can resize horizontally, vertically, or both. By simply adding an attribute to the declaration of a widget, the widget becomes resizable horizontally, vertically, or both. This lets users customize the display of the widget content and display more of it on their Home screens. Also, the accessory mode offers application developers many new ways to engage users and build powerful interaction experiences with connected hardware.
Interested in learning about the complete overview of what’s new in the platform, see the Android 3.1 Platform Highlights.