All I want for Christmas is an Android!
Android is Google’s first Operating System (OS)…for mobile phones. It comes in response to Google wanting everyone to have GSearch, Gmaps, Gmail, GDocs, GEtc in every pocket on the planet (without having to write software for someone else’s platform). It is significant because it is an Operating System, but it is even more significant because it is the next generation in Operating Systems and it is open, wide open!… but let me back up before I get carried away.
Since attending the m-libraries conference at the OU, I’ve had the following user case in mind: deliver large scholarly objects to a students mobile device (eg articles, learning objects, how to videos, etc) just in time and based upon the students learning progress (eg a short article an hour before a lecture, a how to video once they have gotten through homework question, a learning object passes back after asking a question, etc)
Could a mobile device deliver such an environment, and once more deliver that environment to 90% of the student population? Well they have the hardware, but a unified software platform has been missing. Now there looks to be two platforms which will overcome all other mobile OSs (side note: will we end up buying phones based on their OS, like we do with desk-tops?): Google Android vs. Apple’s iPhone?
Google in starting the Open Handset Alliance is looking to make this a reality (or at least a really good idea). While the Google Android OS exists it has yet to be massively manufactured (but have a look at the OHA and partners: Motorola, HTC, nevermind the hackers who have already launched it on their own phones). The business strategy is therefore a bottom-up approach where they are leaving it to the developers in the wild wide world to make the killer apps that will bring the masses to this platform. This puts it in direct competition with the iPhone which has taken a top-down approach (Apple developers only, creating a set of apps that run flawlessly on a shiny phone). Both these are valid approaches, but which will be the default platform to design for? Only time will tell.
Ok so how do we take the above user case forward? First we have to decide which platform to use. The iPhone SDK is not availaible, so I attended the Android Hack Night at Google HQ London to begin to get my head around what it would take to develop the above user case.
So, hopefully over this holiday season I will have some time to post some of the high-level architecture that I am proposing for an android app that would meet some of the criteria for the above user case. But before that, it is important that you take the time to go over Google high-level architecture for Android:
- watch these videos first, then have a read over the
- content provider architecture (this will be the primary dev area for my app):
One you’ve done that (a couple of times: it is technical documentation afterall), then hopefully I’ll have another post up and maybe even some protoypes to get your imaginations going? We’ll see how much Christmas gets in the way of having a play?