Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dan Morrill builds a simple application on the Android platform.

Dan Morrill builds a simple application on the Android platform.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Details on Android's $10 Million Bounty For Your Homebrew Apps

You might have heard, Google's offering $10 million in total prizes for savvy programmers willing and able to make kickass apps for the Android platform. Why so much when other dev communities are getting into the groove for free? A Google rep told me, "We wanted to provide a big enough pool to reward and recognize as many developers who do interesting things as we could." How's that for appreciation? Here's a summary of the Android Developer Challenge.

•Programs, built by using Android's SDK, can be submitted January 2nd through March 3rd 2008.
•The top 50 programs earn $25K to continue development.
•Those in the top 50 are entered into a final round where ten $275k prizes and ten $100k prizes will be awarded.
•A second round of the contest starts in the second half of the year, when handsets running Android launch.
•"We believe that developers will be drawn to, and flourish in, the open and collaborative environment offered by the Android platform. The Android Developer Challenge is designed simply to catalyze that reaction."

Pay people decent money to do decent work. Who would have thought of that?

Google Launches Mobile Phone Platform, Android: What it Means, What Experts Think

(GOOG) has just announced its much talked about Google mobile phone platform, Android, and has announced a large list of partners who are working with the company. The company said it’s worked with T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm (QCOM), Motorola (MOT) and others on the development of Android through the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational alliance of technology and mobile industry leaders.

Andy Rubin, who spearheaded the project, writes on the Google blog:

It’s important to recognize that the Open Handset Alliance and Android have the potential to be major changes from the status quo — one which will take patience and much investment by the various players before you’ll see the first benefits. But we feel the potential gains for mobile customers around the world are worth the effort.

The first handsets are likely to be available in the second half of 2008, the company said. Other partners in the alliance include Sprint Nextel (S), Telecom Italia, NTT DoCoMo, Broadcom (BRCM), and a slew of other technology companies.

What is Android?

A fully integrated mobile “software stack” that consists of an operating system, middleware, user-friendly interface and applications. It will be made available under one of the most progressive, developer-friendly open-source licenses, which gives mobile operators and device manufacturers significant freedom and flexibility to design products. Next week, the Alliance will release an early access software development kit to provide developers with the tools necessary to create innovative and compelling applications for the platform.

Who is missing? Quite a few large carriers, including Vodafone (VOD), Orange, SK Telecom, AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ). Nokia (NOK), Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson are among the handset makers not part of this alliance.

My Take: This is one massive PR move, with nothing to show for it right now, and it seems like there are other unknown reasons (Facebook ad platform launch perhaps) for the motivation here. No phones till second half of 2008 — in our ADD culture that is a lifetime. The partners — with the exception of HTC and T-Mobile — are companies who are, in cricketing parlance, on the backfoot. Motorola, for instance is not exactly a bastion of handset excellence. Sprint — we know how well they are doing.

MyTake #2: Following the press call, I actually have more questions than answers. They completely dodged my question about how does it reconcile with other mobile linux efforts which are backed by none other than partners like Motorola. Andy Rubin replied that all the software is available for the developers in a week, which is non-answer if there is any. Funny - no phones till second half of 2008 and they want developers to shift their attention from iPhone, Symbian, other Mobile Linux and Microsoft Windows Mobile. Even more convinced that this is a PR move. Not clear how this helps Google from a fiscal sense and its business implications for the company. Oh well, time to hound their press department.

What Others Say:

Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting: Google definitely assembled an impressive list of partners for this initiative. On a fundamental level, it still remains to be seen if this move is going to be transform the industry. Of course, everyone wants to be seen supporting openness, proof will be in the implementation and the business models that support this vision, otherwise this is just yet another initiative.

The initiative does help lower the cost of the handset due to cheap licenses for the stack and if this proves successful, some device manufacturers might give up their own efforts to minimize cost and focus more on hardware features that integrate well with Android. This is more an answer to Microsoft than to the carrier fragmentation Google has talked about. Is this going to be a successful Trojan horse strategy for Google remains to be seen.

Forrester Research wireless analyst Charles Golvin: The impact is broad across all players in the mobile environment, driving innovative developers to craft new applications that leverage both the mobile networks and the Internet, and helping to change the way consumers behave when on the go. Google is far from the only beneficiary, as competitors like Yahoo (YHOO) and even Microsoft (MSFT) stand to benefit should they embrace this approach; the impact will build slowly over time as initially the devices using this platform will form a very small percentage of the market.

Download the Android SDK

Version m3-rc20a

Platform Package Size
Windows 59 MB
Mac OS X (intel) 55 MB
Linux (i386) 55 MB

For more information on the SDK:

Using Eclipse? Install the plugin

Android provides an Eclipse plugin to help make programming and debugging easier.

Google Android Blog: This is the Android you're looking for

Google Android Blog: This is the Android you're looking for

Just show me the code

OK, you've downloaded the SDK and are now ready to build the next killer app for mobile (and maybe win some $$$ in the process ;)

Activities? Intents? SimpleCursorAdapter? Huh? do I proceed?

Well, that depends on your style. Some will want to carefully go through all the documentation top-to-bottom, while others may prefer to just dive right into code.

Either path will eventually lead to the sample applications provided in the SDK -- these samples will be invaluable in your quest for Android mastery. The samples include:

API Demos
A 'kitchen sink' application that covers the most useful aspects and components of the Android APIs. You'll see different implementations of Activities, Services, Notifications, Layouts, as well as methods for working with graphics and text. This application provides a good source of templates for your projects as well as a reference to 'How do I do this?'-type questions.
Lunar Lander
A game which demonstrates how to load and draw graphics, animation techniques, taking user input, saving state when the user pauses the game, and more. Coding shouldn't be this fun!
Note Pad
You'll learn how to use Intents to open a new screen, access a local database, and more. This sample is a good introduction to application flow and life cycle management, which are vital in developing more complex applications.

Source code and resources for these applications are available in the SDK (samples/) as well as online:

Here are some suggestions on what to do next:
  • Read through each application's manifest file (AndroidManifest.xml) to learn about the typical structures in an Android application.
  • Modify the code to familiarize yourself with the building and testing process.
  • Use a particular code snippet as either a base template or to get some needed functionality for your own project (why reinvent the wheel?)
Put these sample applications through their paces; and if you get stuck, please post your questions to the Android Developers Discussion Group.

This is the Android you're looking for

Following last week's announcement of the Open Handset Alliance, today we're happy to offer an early look at the Android SDK. We're eager to get feedback from lots of developers in our discussion group. We're also providing developer documentation and this blog to help you get up and going.

You're probably wondering about what's available today. This preview of the SDK will allow you to develop Android applications that you can run, test, profile, and debug using the emulator and the other included tools. Note that the look and feel of the user interface in the emulator is a placeholder for a final version that is under development.

One of our goals in releasing the Android SDK is to unleash the creativity of application developers on the platform. We'd also like to get feedback early enough that we can make changes before the first Android-powered devices are available to the public. We plan to release updates to the SDK regularly which means that there will be additions and changes to the APIs and user experience -- subscribe to this blog to stay up to date.

We're really looking forward to seeing all the amazing applications that developers will create on an open mobile phone platform. In fact, you may even want to enter your application into the Android Developer Challenge -- a USD$10 million challenge sponsored by Google to support and recognize developers who build great applications for the Android platform.