Android 1.6 offers developers new APIs, a reworked Android Market, and improved search and camera functionality.
Google has released the software development kit for the next version of Android, and the "Donut" build features a new version of Android Market, multiple system improvements, and support for CDMA.
The 1.6 version of the Linux-based operating system should be appealing to application developers because it features a retooled Android Market, which places a stronger emphasis on paid applications. Program creators can now include screenshots and descriptions of their apps, and the store has tabs that make it easier to discover the top paid app, top free apps, and the most-recent programs to the store.
The Donut build also features a redesigned search framework, and Android users will be able to search across browser bookmarks, history, contacts, and the Web directly from the home screen. Google said the search engine will evolve based on how it is used, and the company will provide more relevant results based on what the user clicks. Developers can also use the search framework to search within their apps, Google said.
Android 1.6 includes a multi-lingual text-to-speech engine called Pico. The camera and camcorder have also received a boost. Google said the camera launches 39% faster, there's a 28% improvement in the time from completing one shot to the next, and the user interface has been refined. There's also a new framework for recognizing gesture controls, improved VPN, and support for a wider variety of screen sizes and resolutions.
The support for CDMA in the telephony stack indicates that more Android devices may be released for Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless, which both use the technology to power their networks. Sprint is poised to release the HTC Hero soon, and Verizon said it expects to have a device based on the Google-backed OS by the end of the year.
InformationWeek has published a 360-degree analysis of the first Android-based smartphone. Download the report here (registration required).