Google launches Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' SDK

Google has officially unleashed the Android 3.0 'Honeycomb' software development kit, giving coders who weren't part of the pre-release distribution their first chance to write apps for the company's new tablet-oriented OS.

The public release of the Android 3.0 SDK comes as Google also release version 10 of its SDK toolkit and ADT plugin for Eclipse, two important pieces in the toolchain for Honeycomb development.

The SDK allows developers to begin to experiment with the new features in Android 3.0, the first version of the popular mobile platform to be designed specifically for large-format tablet devices rather than small-format smartphones.

As demonstrated during the company's official Honeycomb unveiling ceremony, the update brings new facilities that developers will need to learn to exploit if they want to make a splash in the market when the Honeycomb-powered tablets finally start appearing on shop shelves.

The new Android OS brings improved multi-tasking, better support for dual-core - and upcoming quad-core - processors, a revamped user interface, and a 3D coding language dubbed 'Renderscript', which Google claims allows developers to quickly create impressive apps that take advantage of the growing power of tablet hardware.

While Google's Honeycomb OS is certainly a vast improvement over the current rash of tablets that re-purpose the smartphone edition for a large screen, the company will have a long way to go if it wants to convince the tablet-buying public that an Android device is to be preferred over the market leading iPad from Apple - and a big part of that will be getting as many third-party developers on side as possible.

The full SDK and associated tools are available to download from the Android Developers site now.