Top 10 Tasty Froyo Treats for Mobile App Developers
Now that the Linux-based Android 2.2 SDK release is out, it's time to evaluate what Froyo has in store for both users and developers. Here's a list highlighting 10 key features with a focus on mobile app development. Android 2.2 (codename: Froyo) is a minor SDK release, but it still packs some punch, providing both developers and users with some much-anticipated features. After attending the Google I/O conference and witnessing the Froyo announcement, here are the top ten features (in no particular order) that we think developers cannot wait to get their hands on.
1. Flash 10.1 and AIR SupportThere may be some disagreement about the viability of Flash on mobile, but it's coming to Android phones. Whether or not Flash is the future is really not the question; for now, Flash is pretty pervasive on the web, so cutting it out is in effect cutting out many of the dynamic web apps users already enjoy. Beginning with the Froyo release, Android users will be able to download the open beta version of Flash 10.1 as well as AIR support (in the form of an Android application) from the Android Market. This decision substantially expands the number of web applications and sites accessible to Android users and widens the development community for Android substantially. This may become a double-edged sword for Android developers, however. How will this change the content of the Android Market? With boatloads of Flash apps out there (Texas Hold 'Em, anyone?), why would anyone want to bother creating a native Android app version? Well, there certainly are valid reasons, but we think a lot of companies would need to be convinced when native apps require them to target multiple platforms to reach their customers. Maybe Flash apps will help weed out the weak and badly written native Android app competition, but will it strengthen the Android development community as a whole? We'll have to wait and see.
Developers can now leverage another of Google's services, the Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) Framework. This framework provides a service for enabling limited push functionality to Android devices through Google services (which handle the queuing and secure delivery of lightweight messages to the device). While the framework is getting ironed out, developers can sign up at the Google Labs Web site. Google apps, such as the Android Market for the Web, will soon be using this feature to push Android applications purchased via the Web to the phone over the air. This technology should help resolve some of the crazy polling traffic caused by Android applications at the moment (resulting in reduced battery life, performance reductions, etc.).
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