Application developers for Google Android are preparing themselves for an increase in demand. At the same time, developers are also discussing hacks to provide better access to Android phones.
Even as some developers continue to create apps for the iPhone, others are gearing up an increase in customer demand for Google’s Android applications.
At a meeting of the New York Linux Users Group (NYLUG) here, Nathan Freitas, a partner with Oliver Coady, a New York-based consulting and application development firm specialising in mobile development, said he expects the advent of paid-for applications for the Google Android to boost both quality and quantity of Android applications.
“I think that ‘for-pay’ applications will certainly help to increase Android development,” Freitas said. “Right now I’m throwing in Android ports for applications I write for the iPhone, because I do iPhone development, too,” Freitas told a crowded room of current and prospective Android developers at the 18th Feb NYLUG meeting. “I think the market is becoming more forward-looking and there is a good amount of interest in Android apps. The iPhone is wildly successful, but Android is catching on.”
Indeed, Brian Gupta, a developer with the system administration support firm, Brandorr, said that within 12 months or so, “I think Android is going to be wildly successful” and will cut into Windows Mobile’s market share and will provide realistic competition for the iPhone. Gupta said he expects that the prospective adoption of Android by Sprint also will boost the platform.
Meanwhile, Freitas, who has worked at Palm as a program manager building Java code, said he appreciates Android as “the first open mobile platform. There’s really a lot to hack on. It’s really the first open platform developer-tools-wise. No one’s ever put the effort into delivering a fully cross-platform development environment.”
Moreover, Android features a “great SDK [Software Development Kit]” in Android 1.1 SDK Release 1, with or without the Eclipse IDE support, he said. Freitas said he likes having the ability to either hack code by hand or to use the Eclipse IDE, particularly for debugging code written in different languages. Freitas then discussed various favoured features, including the Android Emulator, which is a virtual mobile device that runs on a developer’s PC.
Making a comparison to the iPhone development environment, Freitas said, “There’s a big difference between APIs and a thoughtful platform…The iPhone is a beautiful device and a great user experience.”
Meanwhile, some members of the group began discussing various hacks to the Android, including how to gain root of the system and to add things to it that were not intended by the Google developers, such as the Debian Linux system. The Android phone was not designed to install Debian or use custom firmware, but various members of the development community have devised ways to do both. By getting root of the system, developers can update bootloads and install custom firmware. However, to get root, developers need to be running Android OS RC29 or lower, which is available in some circle, some said.