Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back after the summer with some NDK comments

Time to pick up on the blog again after a summer where parts of the team have been on vacation and others have been hard at work in a couple of projects. In the mean time the Android platform has continued to evolve and a few things can be mentioned here:

1. The kernel has been removed from the Android manifest file and now requires a separate git pull if you are interested in it:

git clone git://android.git.kernel.org/kernel/common.git

This will save some time when syncing the repo and since the kernel was built outside the Android build system anyway it makes sense to keep it separated.

2. The NDK (Native Development Kit) was released allowing some support for native code in Android applications.
Making it possible to use native functionality in applications have been on the wish list for a long time and this is the first step in that direction. The list of supported API:s is very short though. The NDK currently supports:
  • libc (C library) headers
  • libm (math library) headers
  • JNI interface headers
  • libz (Zlib compression) headers
  • liblog (Android logging) header
  • A Minimal set of headers for C++ support
A c library combined with math and some logging capabilities provide enough for a some powerful algorithm implementations but to be of broader interest some more API:s are probably necessary. Natural candidates would be graphics support (openGL) and maybe some codecs. Currently the NDK is a good way to experiment with native functionality without going through the hoops of learning all about the platform and build system. For some applications it may also be exactly what is needed.

It looks like things will be picking up for the Android team during the fall and we aim to keep posting interesting tidbits here.


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