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Android version 2 gets an SDK

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The software developer's kit for version two of Google's Android platform is now available, with handsets coming soon, but upgrades for existing users less certain.

Verizon are expected to launch an Android 2.0 handset imminently, and Samsung took the opportunity of the Symbian show to flash new Android handsets at selected partners. This was obviously behind closed doors, but the SDK will allow developers access to features including a digital zoom, multitouch interfacing, Microsoft Exchange compatibility and persistence for web-based applications.

Persistence for web applications includes access to local database storage. It also includes an Application Cache that will allow interactive web pages to be used off-line in a manner that blurs the line between applications and on-line content, in just the way the Google plans for its Chrome platform.

It's the same strategy being pushed by Opera Mobile, and it comes out of the HTML 5 standard. There are some efforts to provide the same functionality on the iPhone - most recently by EyeMags - which is ironic, considering Steve's original promise that all iPhone applications would be web based as native development was unnecessary. Just a few years ahead of his time, there.

Owners of existing Android handsets, however, might not be able to join the party, as Google isn't making any promises about upgrade paths. Where the UI has been overlaid by the manufacturer, such as HTC's Sense, it may need a porting effort.

Custom hardware might need new drivers developed, so upgrades are by no means certain. Google is saying that it still expects to see handsets launched running earlier versions of Android. ®

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