SAN FRANCISCO--Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) issued version 3.1 of its Android mobile operating system here at its annual I/O developer conference, promising the thousands of programmers in attendance a series of enhancements that build on the tablet-optimized UI and features first introduced in Android 3.0, a.k.a. "Honeycomb." Chief among the new enhancements: Improved UI transitions throughout the system and across standard apps, with the Launcher animation optimized for faster, more seamless transitions to and from the Apps list. Also new: Adjustments in color, positioning and text, making UI elements easier to see and use, as well as consistent audible feedback and a new setting enabling users to customize the touch-hold interval.
Google released a screencap of Android 3.1's home screen.
Android 3.1 also brings connectivity for USB-connected accessories, allowing for support of myriad peripherals like keyboards, mice, game controllers and digital cameras. In addition, external hardware devices designed to attach to Android-powered devices can act as USB hosts--when an accessory is attached, the framework will look for a corresponding application and offer to launch it for the user, or recommend a URL to download an appropriate app if one isn't already installed. Applications can control accessories like robotics controllers, docking stations, diagnostic and musical equipment, kiosks and card readers, among others.
Also new in Android 3.1: Resizable homescreen widgets, an updated set of standard apps optimized for use on larger-screen devices, Gallery app support for Picture Transfer Protocol (allowing users to connect their cameras over USB and import photos with a single touch) and expanded enterprise support giving users the flexibility to configure an HTTP proxy for each connected Wi-Fi access point, which allows administrators to work with users to set a proxy hostname, port and any bypass subdomains. For a complete list of changes and upgrades, check out the Android Developers website.
In related news, Google announced it will extend Android 3.1 to its Google TV service sometime this summer, enabling developers to build TV-optimized apps using the Honeycomb SDK.
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