Google's Being Picky About Who Gets To See Android 2.0

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Well, this is a bit of a strange twist. For the first few months after launch, the development mentality surrounding Android was a developer’s dream. Huge chunks of the operating system were made open source, the development team was pleasantly transparent, and the roadmap clearly sketched out the trails ahead. Then they released Donut, and all went more-or-less mum. It was no secret that Android 2.0, codenamed Eclair was to follow – but what such updates would contain was anybody’s guess.

Well, Google’s finally ready to share the innards of Eclair with the world. And by “world”, we mean a small group of developers hand-picked to attend an invite-only, NDA-required development event.

Here’s the invite itself, as acquired by AndroidAndMe

Congratulations! Based on the popularity of your Android application,
we’d like to invite you to visit Google to test drive your code on new
test hardware.

This is an invitation only event to take place at the following locations:

* Monday, Oct 26 in Mountain View, CA
* Tuesday, Oct 27 in Mountain View, CA
* Tuesday, Oct 27 in London, UK

We’re opening a few slots next week for developers to come in and
explore new screen sizes and features of the platform. During this
time you’ll have access to Android engineers, as well as test hardware
devices. All attendees are required to accept our NDA, which will be
sent to you upon registration.

On the one hand, we can understand why Google has taken this stance; the mobile world is one of (mostly feeble attempts at) secrecy, where a project leak months ahead of schedule can mean intellectual property battles down the road. Google even outright states that developers will be playing with new hardware. While that will probably end up being the exhaustively-leaked Verizon Droid, it’s still a new piece of unreleased kit which Google’s got to keep “secret”.

On the other, it’s rather depressing to see things head down this path. It’s okay to keep things secret until you’re ready to show them, Google – but don’t play favorites. If you’re going to invite developers to play with the new SDK, invite them all. Even if the devices floating around now aren’t prepped to run Android 2.0, you’ve got a perfectly decent emulator that sure as hell ought to be able to. Call it a beta if you need to (surely that’s not something Google’s uncomfortable doing), and deal with developers complaining about the bugs – it’s all a part of the world that Android claims to be a part of.

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