What's New in Android 4.0 for Developers

We have already written about Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and its innovations for users. Today we want to talk about what’s new in this OS for developers. Alexander Oplesnin, a leading Android developer at Nevosoft, shared his thoughts on this matter.

Alexander, what innovations did you find most interesting?

The most interesting was Wi-Fi Direct, which allows you to establish a connection between two phones without the Internet. Previously, this was possible only if one of the devices was a hotspot. That is, at least for one phone, in any case, Internet access was needed. Now the Internet is not needed at all for data transmission. You can combine two phones into a network and, for example, implement multiplayer games.

Разработчик под Android Александр Оплеснин

I would also like to focus on the availability of Texture View for OpenGL rendering. This is a special component of the interface on which the OpenGL context can be rendered. For example, there is a main interface, and there is another component that renders complex graphics, three-dimensional scenes. You can render the game, graphics, models there. You can make some kind of editor in which some windows show models, others show graphs.

Most of the 2D renderings are hardware accelerated. Now any actions with two-dimensional interfaces, rotations or zooming will happen faster and, maybe, even in real time. Such capabilities were available for Android before, but now they are implemented for more complex renderings. Now it is not necessary to connect OpenGL to implement some simple game, but you can just do with the existing interface elements.

The connection of the keyboard, mouse, and game controllers is implemented. That is, if a developer wants to implement control, for example, from a joystick, these features have become available. 

Social API – all data in contacts is more connected. If the application has access permission, it can link data from phone contacts to the contact database on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Contact Design Practices – recommendations for maintaining the general style of applications, the so-called ROBOTO. A kind of first step towards unifying the design of all Google services.

Most of the utilities that come with the SDK have been updated. For example, a new utility for viewing logs. Allows you to filter messages not only by tag, as it was before, but also by the message itself and other parameters. I think many people will like it.

What about fragmentation?

Yes, the OS will be the same for smartphones and tablets. But here’s the moment: the old devices are not going anywhere yet, they still need to be supported. One more point: in order to test all new features in practice, you need to develop applications for Android 4.0, and it is not profitable to do this yet, because there are no devices available on this platform yet. Even after a few months, the audience of the same Nexus Galaxy will clearly be too small for development for it to be effective and profitable. Therefore, all these innovations are, of course, good, but all this will happen over time. If we take into account that now we are hardly abandoning version 1.6, we can assume that it will take several years. Until now, some applications are supported even on this version, although there is already a tendency to support only the Android 2.1 version – and version 2.1 was released about two years ago. So we can assume that it will take at least two years to abandon Android versions prior to 4.0.   

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