In this feature I’m trying to understand and present a clear picture of this mega story.
Is Google entering into the mobile or handset business?
No! certainly not, Google is a web-tech company which primarily drives its business out of paid searches and ad postings. The speculations about the so called G-phone were wrong and Google has no plans to roll out any G-phone.
What is this ANDROID?
Android is the name of an open source mobile handset operating system. It is a Java based platform with Linux in the core of the OS. This is a dream project of Google which is targeted at the USD 45 billion mobile ad business. It is a free and open platform which Google has developed inorder to seamlessly run its applications, packages and also showcase ads in all future mobile handsets.
To do so Google acquired Android a small company which was already working on the open platform model of business in 2005. In 2007 initiated the launch of Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 35 tech companies which will co-operate on this project. The 35 companies are a mix of different expertise, like Handset manufacturers, Commercialization companies, Chip & Semi conductor manufacturers, Mobile Carriers and Software Developers. Google heads the consortium and is developing libraries and SDK for programmers to develop and use Android platform. It is running several application development contests to encourage more participation, learn and improve with the insights provided by the real developers out there in millions.
Below is an overview of the architectural map of the platform and its core applications:
What does this mean?
The basic idea is to make the handset a complete PC. It has to act and perform like the PC. Even though today handsets are capable of accessing internet but are full of bugs and problems. Apart from basic function like emails access, it does not do anything more. It is slow and is not capable to utilize the benefits and facilities of the development happening in the internet technology. The Android based phones will be a few steps ahead and will make internet access much easier, effective, fast and reliable.
The only limitation to this would one should know a bit of Java and must have the SDK. But as it is said and proposed now it seems that won’t be a problem as a plethora of applications would be developed by millions of programmers and computer freaks.
This is the major cause of worry for the mobile operators which charge these services now. It is my presumption that only the cost of internet access will be charged as our normal broadband connections at home are charged by the ISPs rest will be galore of free content. The carriers are yet to find a solution to this issue.
If Android succeeds, it will have a major impact on wireless carriers. A phone running on Android operating system would treat wireless operators like as just another way to reach data services on the Internet. Such a phone could turn today's wireless providers into commodity data communications networks that also happen to carry voice. This would force the providers to compete in every area--network quality, handset quality, and price--without allowing good performance in one area to lock customers in and support mediocre performance in another.
To keep the soul (open platform) of this project a Non-fragmentation Agreement has been passed which will force the OHA members to cooperate at the code level. Members could not introduce non-compatible codes, applications or services. All modifications done by any will have to be made available to all the members.
- The platform would be adaptable to both larger, VGA devices and more traditional smart phone layouts.
- Android would support a wide variety of connectivity technologies including Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, and WiFi.
- Both SMS and MMS would be available forms of messaging including threaded text messaging.
- The web browser available in Android would be based on the open-source Web Kit application framework.
- Software written in Java can be compiled into Dalvik bytecodes and executed in the Dalvik virtual machine, which is a specialized VM implementation designed for mobile device use.
- Android will support advanced audio/video/still media formats such as MPEG-4, H.264, MP3, and AAC.
- Android would be fully capable of utilizing video/still cameras, touch screens, GPS, compasses, accelerometers, and accelerated 3D graphics.
How can one develop applications for Android based handsets?
The applications can be developed on any PC or handheld computer, palmtop etc in Java. One only needs to have a PC and the Android SDK, which is meant to run on any system. The free Android developer kit includes a telephone emulator, which lets any developer with a PC, Mac, or Linux desktop write and test Android applications. The emulator even makes it possible to control the speed and quality of the simulated phone's network connection, allowing developers to see how their programs will behave on phones in poor coverage areas without having to load the applications onto real phones. Till date only prototypes of Android based handsets have been made and is still a few weeks far from being commercialized. The handsets are expected to run on all mid to high end phones because of the data access capabilities of the platform; however the hardware minimum requirements for a typical Android handset would be ; 32 MB of RAM, 32 MB of FLASH (optional) and a 200 MHz online processor. HTC a member of the OHA along with LG and Samsung have announced to launch the 1st series of the Android based handsets in the late 2008. With the commitment and innovations done by the OHA members these requirements are likely to come down, so that it can be used by the masses.