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07 December 2010, 12:58

Gingerbread - What does Android 2.3 have to offer developers?

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Gingerbread Logo As well as releasing version 2.3 of the Android mobile operating system and its Software Development Kit (SDK), Google has released updates for SDK Tools, the Native Development Kit (NDK) and the Android Development Tools (ADT) plug-in for Eclipse. These include functions to facilitate debugging of software artefacts, revisions to the HierarchyViewer and a preview version of the new visual layout editor. A major revamp of the Android UI is not scheduled until version 3.0 (code named "Honeycomb"), by which time the new UI development tool should also have been released.

The built-in obfuscator ProGuard continues to allow developers to obfuscate their code as an integral part of a release build. As well as supporting the license-free WebM multimedia format and the VP8 video codec, a new concurrent garbage collector in the Dalvik VM accelerates and provides smoother display of applications running under Gingerbread and improves gaming performance. Gingerbread's support for EGL / OpenGL for Embedded Systems (ES) and OpenSL ES – cross-platform programming interfaces for developing 3D computer graphics and audio applications – also falls into this area.

Android applications which use native code will now be able to handle input and sensor events directly in the native code. Gingerbread also supports communication via VoIP and SIP, new gyroscope sensors and NFC (Near Field Communication) chips. NFC can be used to read low-cost product labels and could allow devices to be used for supermarket payment systems or ticketing.

Detailed information about these and other changes can be found on the Platform Highlights web page for the new release.

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