After months of developer agony, Google has finally released its beta version of the Android SDK -- the same day its first Android phone was formally approved by the FCC.
The SDK, 0.9 beta, builds on the "early look" releases made public in November. Google says although the full 1.0 release is unfinished, APIs will remain largely stable from this point forward. The final(ish) SDK is tentatively slated to go out in September.
This SDK already has plenty of changes. GTalk support is gone due to obscure "security reasons," and the Bluetooth API has also bitten the dust. A slew of new features, however, is added, including a new home screen and several new applications: alarm clock, calculator, camera, music player, picture viewer, and SMS/MMS messaging. The beta release also includes new development tools such as an XML layout graphical preview tool and nine-patch image construction tools.
As for the phone itself, the HTC Dream -- first rumored for an October release in a leak last week -- now has the official government go-ahead. The T-Mobile 3G phone will feature a GSM/GRPS/EDGE 850/1900 radio as well as a "jog ball," believed to be a variation on the BlackBerry-style track ball. Prices are rumored to start around $400, with a handful of specials offering it for as low as $150-$250 for the first days of its release.
So has Google kept developers and the public waiting too long to see widespread success with its release? There's certainly been plenty of chatter in the blogosphere suggesting that. Ultimately, though, the Android may not be able to topple the iPhone's impressive debut as far as numbers -- but I suspect it won't exactly bomb, either. After all, the iPhone, as we all know, hasn't been a smashing hit as far as performance. The Android phones might just offer an interesting alternative.