2007-11-14

Android - my love for

Tonight I have spent a significant amount of time reading about Android, the open mobile phone platform put forward by a consortium of different companies including Google.

I was particularly interested in the SDK which was very recently posted online as well as the technical information about how the platform would function and how it would be exposed. Quite honestly, I am blown away by the sheer quality of the platform and the documentation already available a year ahead of any hardware actually arriving. Whereas, in other circumstances, you may be tempted to suspect that the hardware is vapourware, we are not dealing with small players here. We are dealing with Google. A company that got its details right, and right some more, and right some more. Some people treat Google as a massive marketing success but I see them as more of a technical success.

They ramped up from nothing to almost everything in about 6 years. Their technology and their vision was perfect. Its OK to sell search to the world, but what if you can't supply it? They sold it, and they supplied it - fast - always. Its was a technological marvel and it was the technology that gave the marketing guys the easy job.

Now they are at it again, with a simple vision. What if we had power over our data at all times? Not in Web 2.0 cliche way, but having a platform that we could do whatever we could dream of on. The API is lovely. Quite beautiful.

Its based on Java, but the API itself exposes all the functions of the phone, from sound to graphics to video, to event handling, to security. But in such a clean clean fresh way. I am in love with the API already. It gives a pocket database to anyone who wants to use one. You can store data on a memory card if you want to. No problem. You can write an ftp client if you want. No problem. Speaking as a programmer, there is nothing that I would want to do that is not possible on this platform.

Under normal circumstances, this translates into a hackers paradise, but with this platform, its designed to be open. I predict that before release, we will see thousands of Android applications appear to do all kinds of activities that we never even knew we needed. All open applications, without cost, for the good of all users.

The business model for all this will be selling the network bandwidth and the placement of advertisements somewhere inside all the goodness. In some years from now, when infinate mobile bandwidth is finally possible, I would be able to stream songs off my own HD at home via a SocketSource to MP3 player, directly without ever having to copy them onto my mobile device. I will be able to access my entire song collection over the internet from anywhere in the world with a 4G network. I don't need to wait for the mobile companies or phone companies to have this vision - if I have the vision - I can make it happen, and then share it with other users, who can then take the idea and adapt it into a better version. The adaptation/evolution of mobile applications will take a massive leap forward with a huge new supply of mobile applications. Non-mobile devices will be updated so that they can be controlled remotely across the internet. Especially digital video recorders, home heating, lighting - possibly even ovens and kettles.

All devices that have an interface I will be able to control from my pocket. The secret to winning is openness and ease-of-use. I have yet to see the user-interface for Android but judging by the API I would expect very ergonomic system that is very easy to use.

When I first saw the IPhone, I was very impressed with the ergonomics but oh-so-disappointed with the Closedness of the platform. Apple would have this market already if it made its platform open, but I fear Apple has missed the boat on this one. Google has got its strategy exactly right again by concentrating on fundamentals first - the technology.

Ease of development + rich API + Open Source == huge library of free quality software, without limits.


Google has done it again. Strong technical base first - marketing later. I will pay whatever the first one of these phones costs then install or create myself the following application:
  1. ZX Spectrum emulator.
  2. SCUMM emulator.
  3. Gameboy emulator - why not?
  4. Foreign language learning tool (remembers learned vocab + grammar in internal database). Synchronizes with central database on Web and compares results against peers. Can suggest language studying buddies at a similar level. **
  5. Instant messenger service.
  6. IRC client
  7. Webcam feed from family members + location via Google Maps or similar. **
  8. Implementation of VNC so that I can see my home PC desktop through my mobile.
  9. Movie player.
  10. Chess Game.
  11. An open-source Tetris Game.
  12. Run a background application, "RU4Me" (proof of concept). Transmits via bluetooth/wifi that I'm single and a small profile of myself and who I'd like to meet. Other people that pass by me would transparently appear on my screen if they are single/looking/match my profile. Security concerns would need to be ironed out of course, but a common multitasking platform would allow this. **
  13. DVR client (allow me to record TV shows recommended to me by colleage at work).
  14. Media streaming from home PC (allow me to watch my recorded TV show from DVR at home or play my music collection).
  15. Skype client (voice over internet service).
  16. Web-based voice mail application (use microphone to record voicemail then post on internet server and send link to recipient). **
** Just my idea of the type of apps I would like to see.

... all free. The ultimate tech toy.

I view this as the start of the future. Social networking will never be the same. Every time I go outside, I could possibly pass by someone who is right for me - and my phone would simply tell me. I am in love with this idea and that love will never die. Phones could hookup with other external devices and give you information on how many calories you have burned via blue tooth pedometer + heart rate monitor. Anything is now possible.

Thats all for now.

1 comment:

Bang said...

Hi Chris,
Do you remember me?
How are you?
We had studied Japanese in Meguro...
How about your Japanese now?
This artical is very interesting.
Thank you so much!