First SDK update of 2012

Google updates Android SDK with Revision 17

Chris Mayer
Android-SDK

Google upgrades the Android SDK – but the newest addition isn’t even from them, with native x86 emulator support brought in

The lull for Android developers is over, now that Google has
updated the Android SDK with Revision 17. There’s the obligatory
bug fixes (mostly for Lint) but also Android lauding the native x86
emulator support for Windows and Mac OS X.

We’re not exactly sure why, when most of the work was done by
Intel to radically renovate a broken mess. It’s already been
available to
Ice Cream Sandwich devices since December
and this ‘added
support’ merely makes the emulator go from being very sluggish and
unusable to working at a snail’s pace, according to some early
updaters. Still, it’s a step towards making it available to all and
given how fragmented Android is, that’s not a bad thing. 

Further improvements to the emulator include better support
for hardware-accelerated graphics rendering. This feature
requires an API Level 15, Revision 3 or later system image, which
isn’t yet available. Android have also added experimental (and we
emphasise the word experimental there) support for multi-touch
input by enabing the emulator to receive touch input from a
USB-tethered physical Android device. Which should make the whole
thing a bit more realistic for mobile developers.

Other than that, it’s fairly rudimentary. ProGuard, the bundled
build tool, has been updated to version 4.7 and there’s a
boost for custom views with custom attributes in
libraries.

As for the aforementioned bug-hunter Lint, its method of
investigation has been changed. It now 
checks Android
application code – previously it had performed pattern-based
searches in the application code but now uses the more accurate
Java-style parse trees. 20 new Lint rules, including checks
for performance,
XML layouts, manifest and file handling have also been added.

Overall, a much-needed update for Android SDK, but the x86
emulator is a difficult beast to tame. At the moment, it may well
be better than it was, but needs more work to be fully implemented
as an option.

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