Android developers are grumbling about Google's delay in releasing software development kits for new versions of the mobile operating system.
Despite introducing the Nexus One phone earlier this week, Google has not released an SDK for the latest version of the software, Android 2.1, which runs on the phone. Google similarly did not immediately release an SDK for Android 2.0 along with the first phone to run that software, the Droid. Without an SDK, developers can’t ensure that their applications will work properly on the Nexus One.
[ InfoWorld's Galen Gruman says Google has blown it with the Nexus One. | Stay up on tech news and reviews from your smartphone at infoworldmobile.com. | Get the best iPhone apps for pros with our business iPhone apps finder. | See which smartphone is right for you in our mobile "deathmatch" calculator. ]
"How is it even remotely acceptable that people will have 2.1 in their hands before developers even get to touch the SDK" wrote a developer using the name pcm2a on a discussion forum. "I already have users using [version 2.1] saying that my highly used widget doesn't work. How am I supposed to test this out in advance...?"
Other developers also vented about the situation. "I have already received a significant number of e-mails from existing customers asking if our app will run on the N1 and it is a shame to admit we have never seen it, and to ask the customer to do the first ever hands on test and report back," wrote Goutham Sukumar, developer of TouchDown. His application lets users access Microsoft Exchange e-mail, contacts, calendar, and tasks from Android phones.
Another developer wonders why Google wouldn't offer an SDK to developers particularly since the search giant began distributing Nexus One handsets to employees in mid-December. "Why are the 'developers' the last to see it? If this breaks apps, which it is certain to do, they are just further infuriating the developers that are trying to make this a great platform," wrote Wayne Wenthin, a developer.
A Google engineer replied to the complaints on the forum. She downplayed the potential for Android 2.1 to affect the performance of apps. "While I will not argue that we need to be better about getting SDKs out earlier, for developers the changes in 2.1 are really not that significant," wrote Dianne Hackborn, an Android framework engineer. "Pretty much all of the stuff (little that it was) that could impact existing applications is already in 2.0.1," a version of the operating system that has already been released.
Her comments didn't placate everyone. "I have to say though that with the best will in the world chances are things are still going to break somewhere, although admittedly minor ones," wrote a developer going by the name Mr. Chaz.