Wassup Android?

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I've been following Android since its inception in November 2007. I'm referring to the open source Linux-based software platform for mobile devices developed by Google and the Open Handset Alliance.

Everyone was talking about Android back then that I even made a post about it and defended it against a negative comment made by a well-known blogger. However, I have lost track on the Android development so I visited its website just recently to know what's up.

Through Android Developers Blog, I've learned that round 1 results of the Android Developer Challenge have been announced last May 9. Of the 1,788 submissions, only 50 were chosen to advance to the final round. The finalists have been given $25,000 each, and bigger prices are waiting if they made it to the Top 20. Now how did the contest organizers manage to review all those project submissions?

A panel of 4 judges per application was required so they recruited around 125 judges to counter the overwhelming number of reviews that need to be performed. Since many of the judges were not engineers, the organizers built a program using wxPython to automate judging. The said program launches a clean emulator for each submission, supports emulator features like SD card images and mock location providers, and allow judges to launch multiple emulators and simulate calls and SMS messages for applications that need that functionality. To help achieve fairness in judging, 140 Ubuntu-installed identical laptops were utilized.

Another interesting part during the judging was tracking all the huge amount of scores and data. Python was an integral part once again together with Google Data web API to fetch and compute the judge's scores. If you are interested for more gory details of the judging, you can read Dan Morrill's post HERE.

More and more exciting features and specifications of Android are being released after the SDK was made available. Here are some them:

*Connectivity- Android supports a wide variety of connectivity technologies including GSM, CDMA, Bluetooth, EDGE, EV-DO, 3G, and Wi-Fi.

*Handset layouts- The platform is adaptable to both larger, VGA, 2D graphics library, 3D graphics library based on OpenGL ES 1.0 specifications, traditional smartphone layouts.

*Storage- SQLite for structured data storage

*Messaging- Both SMS, MMS, and XMPP are available forms of messaging including threaded text messaging.

*Web browser- The web browser available in Android is based on the open-source WebKit application framework.

*Java virtual machine- 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, although not technically a standard Java Virtual Machine.

*Media support- Android will support advanced audio/video/still media formats such as MPEG-4, H.264, MP3, and AAC, AMR, JPEG, PNG, GIF.

*Additional hardware support- Android is fully capable of utilizing video/still cameras, touchscreens, GPS, compasses, accelerometers, and accelerated 3D graphics.

*Development environment- Includes a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling, and a plugin for the Eclipse IDE.

The first Android-powered handsets are expected to arrive in the second half of 2008. A lot of big players from the mobile phone industry like Motorola, T-Mobile, and Sprint Nextel have vested interest in Android and have become part of the Open Handset Alliance.

I'm planning to get a new cell phone by the end of the year. An ultra sleek and sexy Android-powered Motorola RAZR would be nice ;-)

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