Google launched a new version of the Android operating system, Android 2.3, code-named "Gingerbread." Since then, developers have been scouring through the software development kit (SDK) to see what's new. A few have found some interesting items - including hints at possible video chat in Google's GTalk app, references to a Playstation controller and even a fabulous "Easter egg" painting depicting an Android surrounded by zombies.Yesterday,
1. Video Chat in GTalk
A reader, iPaulPro, sent in a tip to the AndroidGuys.com blog regarding the possibility of video chat coming to Google's GTalk app. Only hours after the announcement, he had found three new icons that weren't in the older Android SDK. These icons are the video chat notification icons found now in Google's desktop version of GTalk. What does it mean that they're now showing up in the mobile SDK? Perhaps native video chat hidden in Android?
One commenter speculates that the icons are there for 3rd-party apps to use, but iPaulPro responds that he had never seen graphics in the SDK resources meant for 3rd-party use. Plus, these follow the GTalk naming structure and are the same dimensions as the other GTalk icons, he says.
Developers can find the icons here: ?sdk/platforms/android-9/data/res/drawable-hdpi/
2. Playstation Controls Discovered
The names for the Playstation controller shoulder triggers (L1, L2, R1, R2) have been discovered in the Gingerbread SDK, reports MobileCrunch. The timing is interesting, given that rumors of a Playstation Phone (the Sony Ericsson Zeus Z1) have been all over the Internet for the past few months. But what does this mean for the Playstation Phone?
Engadget is skeptical that this is anything more than "laying the groundwork" for Sony's smartphone venture. "We wouldn't be surprised if Sony were working on a separate development environment of some sort for PlayStation-branded titles rather than letting it all flow through the official Android SDK proper," reports Engadget.
You can find the new Playstation controls here: ?http://developer.android.com/sdk/api_diff/9/changes/android.view.KeyEvent.html
3. Double the Languages
Talk Android discovered that Gingerbread includes double the number of supported languages, increasing the previous list's total of 26 to a new total of 57. This includes the new addition of Arabic, among dozens of others. If your language wasn't supported before, it might be now.
You can check out the updated list to see for yourself here: ?http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-2.3.html#locs
4. NFC Crippled
OK, this one is a bit of bad news: Android Police discovered that Google's much-touted NFC (near field communications) support in Gingerbread is crippled to some extent. NFC-enabled Android phones are only able to operate as readers, not transmitters, when running Gingerbread software. That means phones can scan NFC tags, but can't transmit information themselves. What does this mean for mobile payments, then, a technology advancement that would require sending data to NFC-equipped POS (point-of-sale) terminals? That's a good question.
It's worth noting, however, that the NFC chips themselves could still have both reading and transmitting capabilities, but using those chips as transmitters is not a feature found in Gingerbread.
5. Easter Egg: Android in a Field of Zombies
And now for something fun: an Android SDK Easter Egg. Android Central found an image of a painting hidden away in the Gingerbread SDK. The painting shows a happy-looking Android character next to a frightening, toothy-grinned Gingerbread man. Around them are a sea of what appear to be zombies, all dressed the same: dark pants, white shirt and tie. Anyone want to bet this is commentary on people's "zombie-like" devotion to the iPhone?
Developers can find this gem at: platforms/android-9/data/res/drawable-nodpi/platlogo.jpg