Android is a mobile phone platform based on the Linux operating system. The industry giant Google is backing the development of Android in collaboration with the Open Handset Alliance (a consortium of 34 tech-firms including Google, HTC, Intel, Motorola, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, and NVIDIA). The platform is planned to be released in 2008 under the Apache free-software and open-source license.
Here is a demonstration of a handset running Android.
What ever happened to the gPhone?
In December 2006, speculation that Google would be entering the mobile phone market began to grow. Reports from both the BBC and The Wall Street Journal noted that Google wanted "Google search and Google applications on mobile, and it is working hard every day to deliver that." Print and online media outlets soon began reporting rumors that Google was developing a Google-branded handset. Network World reported that Google’s phone was actually an open source software phone operating system, rather than a specific hardware device like the iPhone.
Google had acquired Android Inc. (a small startup company based in CA) in 2005. Little was known about the functions of Android Inc. other than they made software for mobile phones. This basically was the root cause of rumors that Google was planning to enter the mobile phone market.
For us – the developers
From a developer’s perspective, Android includes an operating system, middleware and key applications. Developers can create applications for the platform using the Android SDK. Applications are written using the Java programming language and are run on Dalvik (which is a custom virtual machine that runs on top of a Linux kernel).
The four major features (as highlighted on the official website) that the platform fancies are:
Android allows you to access core mobile device functionality through standard API calls.
2. Breaking down boundaries
Combine information from the web with data on the phone — such as contacts or geographic location — to create new user experiences.
3. All applications are equal
Android does not differentiate between the phone’s basic and third-party applications — even the dialer or home screen can be replaced.
4. Fast & easy development
The SDK contains what you need to build and run Android applications, including a true device emulator and advanced debugging tools.
Here’s a video that demonstrates a first hand look at building an Android application.
Google-Android Development Challenge
($10 million in awards)
How It Works
The award money will be distributed equally between two Android Developer Challenges:
- Android Developer Challenge I: Submissions accepted from January 2 through April 14, 2008
- Android Developer Challenge II: This part will launch after the first handsets built on the platform become available in the second half of 2008
In the Android Developer Challenge I, the 50 most promising entries received by April 14 will each receive a $25,000 award to fund further development. Those selected will then be eligible for even greater recognition via ten $275,000 awards and ten $100,000 awards.
For more information visit Android Development Challenge.
Google backed Mobile platform, hmm. That does sound like it will be giving a hard time to the other platform vendors. They are in for some real challenge. Just as how John Forsyth of Symbian put it, "If Google was not involved the industry would have just yawned and rolled over."
Exciting things are sensed to be coming our way. Stay tuned. Maybe the mobile technology is next in line for Google to grab.
(Sources: Wikipedia, Android Homepage, Google Press)