A developer's introduction to Google Android

From arstechnica.

Ars takes a close look at the technology underlying Google's Linux-based Android platform. From the platform fundamentals to the development experience, details inside.

As Google originally promised, things improved dramatically after the launch of the G1. The source code for the entire platform is now open, and Google has published extensive documentation that describes how independent developers can contribute to the project. Those changes in the development process make Android a truly open and participatory project. Patches from external contributors have already been accepted, and Google is also working closely with upstream projects like Harmony.

After the source code was opened, there was still one critical weak spot: the T-Mobile G1, Android's flagship handset, is a closed device that uses code signing to restrict changes to the platform. There is no way to flash the G1 with modified images, which means that platform hackers have no practical way to test their changes on physical hardware. This limitation was an immense disappointment, and it undermined a lot of the value of having an open mobile platform. To address this deficiency, Google launched its own unlocked developer model of the G1 handset. The hackable Google handset, which is available to anyone who registers with the Android App Store, is a fully open device that can be flashed and modified.


The next major version of Android delivers some important features that will help make the platform more appealing to mobile carriers and hardware makers. One of the most important changes is the new on-screen keyboard, which has opened the door for using Android on a whole new class of devices. There are already several products under development that will take advantage of this feature, including an upcoming media tablet from Archos, a WiFi Skype tablet from GiiNii, and the HTC Magic, which is coming to Vodafone.

Another significant addition is support for the x86 architecture, which could make it possible to bring Android to some netbook devices and Atom-based MIDs.

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Google had better act fast to capitalize on Android's momentum, because its window of opportunity is closing quickly. Microsoft is moving to get its improved version of Windows Mobile ready to ship, some of the LiMo-compatible smartphone platforms such as ALP are getting closer to hitting the market, and Symbian will be royalty-free soon. Google has a chance to be a major player in the mobile market. The company will need to mature Android rapidly to stay competitive in the growing smartphone ecosystem.

Interview with Google Android’s Makers.


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