Google offers sweet new SDK to let Android devs join 'Lollipop' guild

Includes Android 5.0 system images for Nexus kit

Android 5.0 "Lollipop" won't ship to the public for a couple more weeks, but Google has tossed developers a bone by releasing the final SDK and system images for select Nexus devices ahead of launch.

The new Lollipop SDK that posted on Friday replaces the earlier Android L Developer Preview that the Chocolate Factory offered up at its annual Google I/O conference in June.

There's a lot in it for developers to explore. Google describes Lollipop as "the largest Android release yet," with more than 5,000 new APIs. Technically, the release brings Android up to API level 21.

From the user's perspective, Lollipop offers the new Material Design theme, improved notifications, better battery life, OpenGL ES 3.1, 64-bit support, and improved performance via the new ART runtime engine, among other features.

The updated Android 5.0 SDK includes the final APIs for all of the above, and many of them have reportedly changed since the original Developer Preview SDK was released.

In addition, the kit offers updated Android 5.0 system images for the Android Emulator for 32-bit, 64-bit, and 32-bit Android TV. There's also a new version of the Android Native Development Kit (NDK) with support for API level 21.

Simultaneous with the release of the final SDK, Google is also offering new development system images for select hardware. Specifically, there are new images for the Nexus 5 mobe and the 2013 version of the Nexus 7 fondleslab that contain the final Android 5.0 code.

These images aren't meant for consumer devices. Because they're designed for developer testing, they come preloaded with only a minimal set of apps. Also, devices running the developer preview images will not receive an over the air (OTA) update of the consumer system image when it ships. To get the OTA update, development devices will need to be flashed back to a factory image of an earlier version of the OS.

As usual, developers can get the new SDK, the system images, and associated tools and libraries via the Android SDK Manager.

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One exception, however, is a new system image for the ADT-1 prototype development kit for Android TV. Google will be shipping the Android 5.0 image for these devices as an OTA update within the next few days.

The first consumer devices featuring Lollipop – the new Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player – will go on sale in early November. Google says it will begin rolling out Android 5.0 OTA updates for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, all Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Google Play Edition devices around the same time, and other Android device makers are expected to follow suit on their own schedules. ®

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