Google isn't just hiding the Android SDK from the world's developers. It's teasing them with it. Yesterday, just as we finished detailing the search giant's shabby treatment of mobile-minded coders, it treated them even worse, dangling its secret software developer's kit just under their proverbial noses.
The Mountain View outfit released the last public update to the Android SDK on March 9. That means developers have spent more than four months using bug-ridden tools to build apps for a non-existent platform. But the company is happily sharing a new and improved SDK with the chosen few: the 50 finalists in the Android Developer's Challenge, a Google coding contest boasting $10m in prize money.
And that's ticked off many of the platform's more ardent supporters. "Many developers that did not win [a finalist spot] felt cheated by Google and were pretty upset, including me," says Nicolas Gramlich, the brain behind AndDev.org, an online Android developer forum that boasts 3,075 registered members. "Keeping 95 per cent of the developers in the dark was a really bad decision, as not only the 50 apps made by the ADC winners will contribute to the success of the whole platform."
Then, late yesterday afternoon, Google typed up a note for those 50 Android Developer Challenge winners - and promptly sent it to everyone who'd entered the contest. Hundreds of ADC losers were told where they couldn't get the latest SDK:
We're pleased to announce that SDK build 84853 is now available on your private download site. This will be the last build released for ADC Round 2 and is the build that you will need to submit your final application under.
In addition, the final ADC deadline has been extended to Tuesday, August 5. This is the final ADC deadline.
Thanks! Android Developer Challenge Team
Our sources tell us that someone at Google has trouble with the auto-complete feature on his mail program.
When Ken Adair first opened the note, he was overjoyed. "I was pretty pumped," the neevo.com developer tells us. "I thought I was finally getting the new SDK." But this SDKgasm was short lived.
"Talk about adding fuel to the fire," he told Google's official Android discussion group. "Wonder how many of us would have actually gotten behind Android if we knew that they were going to only cater to the top 50. Definitely feel betrayed..."
That email also makes us wonder why Google has extended the deadline for the ADC second round. Does that mean other developers will wait even longer for the SDK? All Google will say is that a public update will arrive "in the coming weeks." And does it point to delays with the entire platform?
Word is that Android won't arrive by the end of the year, as originally planned. It may be 2009 before Google's open mobile platform is actually open. ®