Android platform v1.5 highlights and new features

image Four months of discovery and hearsay later, the Android build that we’ve all been waiting for is near. The Android Developers Blog announced today the availability of an “early look” Android 1.5 SDK. This release seems like a mostly complete version of the final release, though Google warns that some of the APIs are bound to change.

Beyond the features that v1.5 brings to the end user (see below), the new SDK carries a few key changes:

  • The SDK now supports multiple versions of the platform, so developers can continue to work on applications for the current release (v1.1) while preparing their apps for the next one.
  • Developers can now install SDK add-ons. This allows carriers, OEMs, and other third-parties to easily expand the SDK for their needs without Google having to hold their hand.

Some important new features:

  • On-screen keyboard support, with support for auto-correct, text prediction, user dictionaries, and third-party keyboard layouts
  • Live folders (Auto-updating folder shortcuts for things such as YouTube favorites, Starred Contacts, and, with the API now available, whatever else developers conjure up)
  • Video Recording
  • MPEG4 and 3GP Video Playback
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • Browser enhancements: New ultrafast “Squirrelfish” javascript engine, search within a page, copy and paste, UI changes
  • New Linux Kernel
  • Google Application enhancements: View Google Talk friend statuses in contacts, SMS, MMS, Gmail, and Email
  • New frameworks for developers to build upon: Widget creation, Live Folder creation, Raw audio recording/playback, Video recording, Speech recognition
  • Faster GPS, Faster camera startup, faster Gmail scrolling, and smoother browser scrolling

See the full article at MobileCrunch and the full feature list at Android.com.

Boxee Continues To Innovate With API And New Alpha Version

image Free entertainment hub Boxee keeps on getting better and better. A couple of hours ago, the venture-backed startup released a full API that allows developers to build applications for the open-source platform using a set of API calls in Python and writing the GUI using XML. At the same time, the company is laying the groundwork for a richer App Box, which it refers to as an open application store where they are not the gatekeeper (like Apple for its iPhone App Store) but rather a facilitator.

Heck, they’re even prepared to act as middleman for connecting freelance web developers with companies looking to leverage their API. Hard not to love that type of company.

Boxee is today also introducing a new test version of the Boxee alpha version for Mac and Apple TV (get it here for Intel Mac OS X 10.4+), adding two applications that were built using the brand new API. The new Boxee alpha comes with a lot of music goodness as it includes both Pandora, the popular music streaming service, and RadioTime, which enables their users to access over 100,000 traditional radio stations from across the globe.

This comes right off the heels of the introduction of a (basic) iPhone application.

See the full article at TechCrunch.

Last.fm Silences Third-Party Mobile Apps

image Hot off an announcement that they’d be charging for radio access outside the US, UK and Germany, Last.fm has said that all non-official mobile clients will be banned. This isn’t going over well.

The change comes with a new developer API that will actually make things much easier for other developers, who’ve had to rely on a few undocumented calls up until now. Current licensing agreements with labels—who Last.fm is in no position to alienate—prohibit mobile streaming, though the company’s official mobile radio apps—right now just on the iPhone and Android—will still work fine.

As you could imagine, this kind of blows for a lot of people. Windows Mobile users will no longer be able to use Pocket Scrobbler, Symbian folks will have their beautiful baby, Mobbler, ripped from their hands, and BlackBerry owners will soon find FlipSide, a pay app, rendered silent. And as much as I’d like to, I don’t really believe that we’ll see official clients for any of the platforms, at least not soon.

Article source: Gizmodo.

MTV Pulls The Plug On Embeddable Videos

When NBC Universal and News Corporation-backed Hulu launched in Fall 2007, it was a signal that old television media might actually grasp the distributive power of the internet. Not only were great programs made available for free as streaming videos, users could grab and embed them anywhere online – in their entirety or just as clips.

So it’s a bit of a shame to see another giant media conglomerate, Viacom, buck this trend and actually clamp down on the embedding of videos from the MTV Network. Yesterday in a post to its developer blog, a staff member for MTVN developer services announced that video embeds would no longer be available through MTV’s API, starting sometime in early March.

Currently, developers can build websites that embed videos from MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo (such as this one that also embeds videos from YouTube). But soon developers will be allowed to display only thumbnails and meta data associated with MTV’s videos. If users want to watch the actual videos, they’ll have to follow links back to webpages that are owned and monetized by MTVN.

See the full article at TechCrunch.

Facebook makes new push for more apps

Facebook is looking to unleash a new wave of applications to get its users creating and sharing more content.

The social-networking company has launched a number of APIs (application programming interfaces) that will let developers access content and methods for sharing in Facebook apps including Status, Notes, Links, and Video.

In announcing move toward greater openness, Facebook says it has seen "increasing engagement" among its users, more than 15 million of whom are updating their status daily and who are sharing more than 24 million links per month. The social network has 150 million active members.

Earlier this week, Facebook gave another nod toward openness, rather unexpectedly joining the board of the OpenID Foundation, whose designs on a universal log-in standard are something of a rival to the similar Facebook Connect.

See the full article at Webware.