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Google Android Gets Native Development Kit

The just-released download for Android 1.5 will enable developers to create apps which run directly on the platform, rather than through a virtual machine.

HTC's Google Android-Powered Hero
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HTC's Google Android-Powered Hero
Google is giving Android developers more ways to create applications for the Android Market, as it has released a native development kit for Android 1.5.

Currently, Android apps run in the Dalvik virtual machine, but some developers may find this somewhat limited. With the new native development kit (NDK), content creators will have a few more option to create mobile programs.

The NDK could help some developers make better use of the data processing and signal processing, Google said. It also provides a set of tools used to generate native code libraries from C and C++ sources, as well as a set of headers and libraries that will be compatible with all future versions of Android.

Google warns that the NDK won't be relevant for all developers, as it said there are "numerous" drawbacks.

"Your application will be more complicated, have reduced compatibility, have no access to framework APIs, and be harder to debug," Google wrote on its Android developers' blog. "That said, some applications that have self-contained, CPU-intensive operations that don't allocate much memory may still benefit from increased performance and the ability to reuse existing code."

The move shows that Google is making an increased effort to attract developers to its mobile, Linux-based platform. The search giant is also trying to attract content creators by making its vetting process for the Android Market more open than some of the competitors.

Apple's App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch is unquestionably at the top of the mobile app market, as it has over 50,000 programs and over 1 billion downloads. Additionally, developers are drawn to the potential audience of the App Store, which can be accessed by more than 40 million users.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the use of business software on smartphones. Download the report here (registration required).

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