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Monday, November 12, 2007

Android SDK first look

Last week, I took a brief look at the Blackberry SDK. Well, it's November 12th, and it's A-Day. Here are some initial thoughts on the Android SDK.

  • Kudos to Google for producing a cross platform SDK. Win/Mac/Linux is nice, since so many developers today use the latter two as their primary OS.
  • In looking at the documentation, everything seems to follow the web development paradigm, but with a few detours for things like long running processes (like the example they use: a media player that plays music in the background even when the UI isn't showing)
  • The interfaces look very open; you can register for external events (e.g. an incoming call or SMS message)
  • The Content Provider interfaces look nice, and the XPath style access to data is a nice, clean, and open interface.
APIs are nice and all, but what about tools?

I'm happy to note that the tools all seem to be there: Plugin for Eclipse, debugger (both against the emulator, and remotely against a device), plus all the packaging tools. Nice.

Other things to note:
  • Location based services, with integration to Google Maps.
  • 3D graphics (OpenGL). The support looks somewhat immature, but with NVidia as part of the Open Handset Alliance, this might just become a decent homebrew gaming platform.
  • Low level hardware access will be available, but isn't ready yet.
  • XMPP support; this will enable P2P applications and communication (IM, games, etc.)
  • Android has support for recording and playback of audio and video. As a musician, I like the audio recording bit. Nice.
  • They have some really nice documentation available; They even cover some of the things that developer level documentation doesn't normally cover, like how to make an app responsive, how to understand the lifecycle of applications, etc.
With HTC announcing that they are going to release 3 handsets based on Android next year, it looks like Windows Mobile might be in trouble. If they can make a well-integrated, responsive phone that looks nice, they will probably start to cut into the iPhone market as well.

Looks like the smartphone market is about to get a whole lot more interesting.

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