Android 2.0 SDK touts messaging, browser enhancements

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With Verizon Wireless poised to introduce its first Android-powered smartphone, the Motorola Droid, Google announced the release of its Android 2.0 software development kit, touting a series of enhancements for users and developers. Major additions to Android 2.0 include Quick Contact, which provides instant access to a contact's information and communication modes--for example, users can tap a photo and select whether to call, text or email the individual in question. Other applications like Email, Messaging and Calendar can also reveal the Quick Contact widget upon touching a contact photo or status icon. Android 2.0 additionally boasts support for Exchange, a combined inbox to browse email from multiple accounts in one page and search functionality for all saved SMS and MMS messages.

Android 2.0 also boosts camera functionality, introducing built-in flash support, digital zoom, scene mode and related visual effects. An improved keyboard promises to simplify text input and improve typing speed, while the framework's multi-touch support guarantees key presses aren't missed during two-finger typing sessions--in addition, an improved dictionary learns from word usage, and automatically includes contact names as suggestions.  

Perhaps the most significant browser enhancement in Android 2.0 arrives via support for HTML5, which enables browser-based applications to behave more like native apps--speaking in February at Mobile World Congress 2009 in Barcelona, Google vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra trumpeted HTML5 as one of the cornerstones of the modern, cutting-edge mobile browser. Gundotra also emphasized the value of application cache support for offline use and geolocation API support, both featured in Android 2.0 as well. The update also adds a refreshed UI with actionable browser URL bar, enabling users to directly tap the address bar for instant searches and navigation, as well as bookmarks with web page thumbnails and support for double-tap zoom.

For developers, Android 2.0 introduces new APIs for sync and Bluetooth. "Using the new sync, account manager and contacts APIs, you can write applications to enable users to sync their devices to various contact sources," writes Android SDK tech lead Xavier Ducrohet on the Android Developers Blog. "You can also give users a faster way to communicate with others by embedding Quick Contact within your application. With the new Bluetooth API, you can now easily add peer-to-peer connectivity or gaming to your applications." The updated Android SDK is available for download here.

For more on Android 2.0:
- read this Android Developers Blog entry

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