Android 3.0, also known as "Honeycomb," is the first version of the Android operating system specifically designed for the tablet computers. A study released on Tuesday by Appcelerator, a maker of mobile app development tools, and research firm IDC suggests that developer interest in Google's Android platform almost matches interest in Apple's iOS platform.
Now 74% of developers responding to the study say they're very interested in developing for Android tablets. Android 3.0 features a UI framework designed for creating apps on tablet-sized screens, a new animation framework, a built-in OpenGL renderer to accelerate 2D processing, a 3D graphics engine called Renderscript, and multicore support.
In conjunction with the preview SDK release, Google is releasing updated versions of its Android developer tools: SDK Tools (r9), NDK (r5b), and ADT Plugin for Eclipse (9.0.0). Apps created using the Honeycomb preview cannot be be published on the Android Market.
Google has released an unfinished SDK for the upcoming Honeycomb incarnation of Android, a release intended for touch tablets as well as smartphones. Alongside the SDK, Google has also released updates for Android's SDK Tools, Native Development Kit, and Android Development Tools (ADK) Plugin for Eclipse.
Google Android engineer Mike Cleron offered a sneak peek of these capabilities on the forthcoming Android 3.0-based Motorola Xoom tablet Jan. 6 at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. The Xoom and forthcoming Toshiba Android tablet, for example, run the dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor.
Applications written with the Android 3.0 preview SDK cannot be published on Google's Android Market, but Ducrochet said developers can expect a final SDK with which to build and publish Android 3.0 applications in the weeks ahead.
Google offers additional images of Android 3.0 in this highlight page. Google hopes the Honeycomb build will make tablets running it more competitive with Apple's iPad than the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Android 2.2 tablet that has sold 1.5 million units. Interestingly, Android 3.0 is nipping at the heels of Android 2.3, the Gingerbread-build Google launched for smartphones just a month ago.