Google drops Bluetooth and GTalk APIs from Android SDK 0.9

In a blog post yesterday, a Google developer advocate detailed just why the latest SDK for the emerging Android phone OS isn't exactly the same as Google first intended -- in other words, why Bluetooth and GTalk are missing.

Why didn't Google's Android SDK version 0.9, released into beta earlier this week, include originally planned APIs for Bluetooth and Google's own P2P-enabled GTalkService? According to Dan Morrill, a Google developer advocate, Google drew the conclusion that neither its Bluetooth API nor the GTalkService would be ready for prime time prior to the final release of the SDK for the first Android phones.

As things now stand, the Android SDK will, in fact, support Bluetooth wireless headsets, Morrill maintained, in a post to the Android Developers Blog on Tuesday. In an earlier edition of the pre-release software, however, the SDK also included an incomplete draft of an API that would have exposed underlying Bluetooth functionality to Android developers. "Unfortunately, we had to remove that API from the 1.0 release," Morrill wrote.

Morrill also quoted Nick Pelly, one of the engineers responsible for the Bluetooth API functionality, as saying, "The reason is that we plain ran out of time. The Android Bluetooth API was pretty far along, but needs some clean-up before we can commit to it for the SDK. Keep in mind that putting it in the 1.0 SDK would have locked us into that API for years to come."

Google, though, is not abandoning its intentions for a Bluetooth API. "We absolutely intend to support a Bluetooth API in a future release, although we don't know exactly when that will be," Morrill contended.

As for GTalk, the service still has some security problems that need to be ironed out, according to Morrill. He cited Rich Canning, one of Google's security researchers, as noting that, as it was first designed, GTalkService placed too much of a security burden on developers to avoid security flaws and to perform user and relationship management.

"An Android application using GTalkService would be reachable from all of the user's Google Talk friends, and a flaw in that application could pose an inviting target to a malicious 'friend' or automated malware. There are automated mechanisms that could be used to help protect vulnerable applications or stop the spread of malware, but the deployment of these technologies was not possible in time for the launch of the first Android handsets," Canning elaborated.

Morrill didn't promise that the Android SDK will ever support this service, and he pointed out that, in any event, "it was never guaranteed that [GTalkService] would be present on every Android device."

Yet one of Google's top priorities after the first Android devices ship is to "develop a device-to-device (and possibly device-to-server) RPC mechanism that is fast, reliable, and protective of developers and users alike," according to Morrill.

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