Intel has just released Beacon Mountain - an Android development environment. You might be wondering why anyone would need another Android development environment? The answer in this case is the Atom.
We tend to forget that Android, being Java based, is fairly platform independent. All you have to do is to get the particular flavor of Linux that it uses running on new hardware and the apps should follow. Of course at the moment most Android devices are ARM based, but Intel is working hard to change this. It has new Atom processors that have characteristics that make them very suitable for mobile use. So what could be more sensible than to ensure that Android runs on Atom.
This is a long-term project and Beacon Mountain is part of the overall system. It makes it easier for a developers to work with Intel Android. It is a development environment and not an IDE. You need to use Eclipse and the Beacon Mountain plugin to actually develop code.
You can use Beacon Mountain to create code for ARM or Atom based systems but it only supports Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and later. It also only runs under Windows 7 and 8, at the moment, MAC OS is promised later this year.
What Beacon Mountain really offers is an easy way to get the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager (HAXM) set up and working. This runs x86 versions of Android with hardware support, but only on machine that support Intel VT.
There are a few other utilities and libraries provided: Graphics Performance Analyzers, Threaded Building Blocks and all of the usual Android SDK components. However, as long as you use nothing but Java then your code will work under the ARM or Intel Android OS images.
How important is this?
It all depends on the number of Intel Android phones and tablets that hit the market and how many are bought. From an end user's point of view, an Atom-based Android would be mostly the same as an ARM-based Android when it comes to apps. However, any apps that broke out of Java and made use of native code wouldn't run without being made available as Intel versions, so there is a small risk of incompatibilities.
If the numbers of Intel Android devices starts to increase, Beacon Mountain could play an important role in getting the support they would need from developers. At the moment, though, it is another example of Intel hiding its interesting products behind a lack of promotion and documentation.