updated 05:25 pm EST, Fri February 4, 2011
API aims to avoid fragmentation issues
Google has introduced a new Android API that aims to make it easier for developers to scale application layouts across a range of screen sizes and resolutions. The utility, which carries the tongue-in-cheek name 'Fragment,' will arrive as part of Android 3.0 alongside existing scaling capabilities introduced with earlier builds.
Most of the current options are geared for switching between different resolutions and aspect ratios common to smartphones, but the Fragment API is designed for "more radical UI adjustment" as the platform moves toward tablet interfaces presented on large screens, according to a blog post from Google software engineer Dianne Hackborn. Developers can tweak the UI layouts and features to suit a wider range of possible devices.
"For developers starting work on tablet-oriented applications designed for Android 3.0, the new Fragment API is useful for many design situations that arise from the larger screen," Hackborn explains. "Reasonable use of fragments should also make it easier to adjust the resulting application's UI to new devices in the future as needed -- for phones, TVs, or wherever Android appears."
Although the Fragments API will first arrive on Android 3.0, Google is working to bring the same functionality as a static library for versions back to Android 1.6.