Google goes after iPhone 3.0 with Android 1.5

Chicago (IL) – Google’s Android team releases a sneak peek at the next version of the Android software development kit, which integrates most of the features that were developed by the “Cupcake” development branch: Cupcake has been a parallel development effort that focused on future features of Android while the Android team was busy converting the core code branch into open source. Upcoming features include a cleaned up UI with an on-screen soft-keyboard, several performance improvements as well as a new Linux kernel version.

The cat-and-mouse game between the iPhone and Android is about to go into the next round Apple is preparing a major feature update with the iPhone firmware 3.0 and Google’s Android team has released official information of Android 1.5.

At this point, the Android team describes the 1.5 SDK as an “early look” and not software that should be used for actual development. In fact, developer documentation has not been posted on the Android developer pages, but is just available from within the SDK package and Google noted that the included documentation as well as tools “are not complete”.

What seems to be complete, however, is the extended feature set of Android 1.5. The improvements range from general changes such as a much more polished UI, default animated window transitions and accelerometer-based application rotations, to new APIs as well as performance and core applications enhancements.

Most importantly, Android 1.5 now runs on the Linux kernel 2.6.27. The software will add an on-screen keyboard that works in both landscape and portrait viewing modes, support for the installation of 3rd party keyboards, a dictionary for user-defined words, new widgets for the home screen, video recording and playback capability, stereo Bluetooth support including an auto-pairing feature, as well as picture and video upload support for Picasa and YouTube.

The Android browser will be updated with faster Webkit and Sqirrelfish engines, get copy and paste support, a search-within-the-page feature as well as a unified Go and Search box, among others. All new features are mentioned on Google’s Android pages. The “early look” SDK 1.5 can be downloaded here.