Android – Much More Than A Mobile Phone OS

In having to do some research of late on Mobile devices for a project at work my attention focused on Android. Whenever I undertake this kind of work and start seeking opinions I usually get it form people who have formed opinions based either from a consumer perspective or an experimental perspective.

Apple’s iPhone

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

For those who fall into the consumer camp they usually know their technology based on what they’ve been sold. When I started taking a close look at this just over a month ago I have to admit that I fell on the consumer side of the fence. Based on what I heard I concluded that the Apple iPhone was probably as good a platform to jump in and do development with. After all it had the numbers in terms of sales, I’d seen it adverted a lot on TV and everyone on the Inernet mentioned how cool it was. The only person who I heard say anything negative about the iPhone was Steve Balmer who pointed out that it was awfly expensive given that it didn’t have a keyboard.

The other system I heard about was Android. To be honest I didn’t know much about it. I knew it had something to do with Google, I knew it has something to do with a Google telephone and I knew it was Open Source. Open Source usually means that the system has a much bigger developer base and its proponents would probably look at the phone from an experimental perspective.

Over the past few days I’ve had a chance to to sit down and take a close look at Android. A lot of news surfaced on Android given the GSMA Mobile World Congress that occurred in Barcelona, Spain so here is a compendium of a few things I discovered.

Android Background

One thing I’ve discovered is that I really like this platform for development. Android was developed by Google and has yet to own even a small part of the smartphone market because of its newness. Android is an Open Source, Linux-derived platform with major hardware and software developers that are part of the Open Handset Alliance. This OS already has a cult following among programmers eager to develop apps because of  its flexible, Open Source, back end primary because Android promises to give developers access to every aspect of the phone’s operation.

G1 Android Smartphone

G1 Android Smartphone

When I did my initial research looking into Android I did not realize how new it was. As such when I first started looking at handsets for it, I didn’t realize that there was only one offical Phone (Android Dev Phone 1 or G1) which is a T-mobile G1. A G1 phone is unique because its equipped with Android Firmware.

Some developers had tried placing Android on other devices, such as the Nokia 810, only to discover that it wouldn’t talk to the units Bluetooth or GPS technology. Again this was because the Nokia 810 does not contain the correct firmware.

Most of the Internet chatter indicated that real Android devices would hit the market in the summer. This was because Google had announced new firmware for Android telephones called “cupcake”. What’s significant about the Mobile World Congress is that “cupcake” was released and the first G2 mobile phones were unveiled. Being a G2 device they contain the Android mobile phone firmware upgrade.

So what do these new G2 phones look like? Below is a video of one shot at this weeks Mobile World Congress.

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More To Android

However the big surprise of Android is that it appears to be evolving towards something way more than a smart telephony device. That’s because of its Open Source nature which is key to people with an experimental inclination to do much more with the device.

1080P Playback with NVIDIA Hardware

The video below was also shot at the Mobile World Congress. This is something that I didn’t expect to see related to Android. Below is Android running on a Tegra equipped handheld device. The significance of the NVIDIA technology is that it’s cheap for the manufacturer and the  video operates smoothly at High Definition resolution.

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NVIDIATegra Takes The Video Output Of A Mobile Device To A Whole New Level – 1080P!

This next video has two different parts. The first part is a mobile interface embedded in a laptop computer where the laptop’s display is what one would see on the mobile device. The second part shows the Tegra’s output from a handheld device on a large 1080p display including its ability to render 3D. This is a bit of a showstopper….

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Texas Instruments’ Android Zoom OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform

Below are a couple more Android Devices based on a rival to NVIDIA’s Tegra technology. These devices employ Texas Instruments OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform.

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Experimental Nature Of Android – A Wireless Blimp Demonstration

I believe the two videos below will show the experimental nature of Android and why I like it. The video’s are a demonstration of a wireless blimp controlled by an Android hand set…… and one of them is a wireless Camera blimp….

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Freescale to use Android, ARM for $100 Netbook

And finally if the Camera Blimp is not enough to convince you, how about the planned Freescale $200 netbook? It plans to use Android as well….. Enough said about what one can do with an Android equipped device. Android is a perfect development platform for a University environment.


Google I/O Show’s First Android Prototype

Google I/O underway in San Francisco with the sessions focusing on next generation web apps built with open technologies and some of Google’s technology. Android is one such development. It’s an software platform and operating system for mobile devices based on the Linux operating system, developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance. Today at Google I/O the first working handset based on the platform was demonstrated. It even plays Pacman… Pretty impressive… Video below….

All Things “Search” At Google.

Last evening I shared the stage with Bob McKenzie of York University to provide our various impressions of NAB 2008 to Toronto’s Final Cut Pro users group. Bob came away from NAB thinking that we are evolving towards a “search” culture in the way that we consume media. That got me to thinking about the state of the art of “search”. If you have the time this video “Google Factory Tour of Search” that was posted a few days ago explains all things search at Google…..