Android: a story about the phone, Java, Linux and other wars

Google released the API for Android and several first impressions of its impact and contribution to the mobile phone platform are now available.

There are good and not-so-good news.

Various blogs describe well the positive points of Android such as defining a common and relatively 'open' platform for volume development of related applications and services, bringing down the barriers of entry, offering competition on a common infrastructure. A good article describing Android is found here.

These are all good points, timely introduction and needed development to standardize what otherwise is a set of exclusionary and stove-piped technologies vertically aligned across the usual suspects, aka communications cartels.

I installed the SDK first on my Ububtu.x86.64 environment. It did not work. I found that the initial distribution is for 32-bit only; the site should point this out on the download entry.

Under Vista, x86.32, it worked well using Eclipse and standalone via the Ant script generated by the included application generation utility, activityCreator.py.

As I work with the SDK, I like what I see, namely

  • Java. The SDK is Java-based including an Eclipse plug-in.
What concerns me includes:
  • Java. Same language supporting a subset of the JDK. The run-time VM is a custom one, Dalvik, perhaps needed to gain performance on target platforms. Java faces fragmentation and Android is a good example of it. Google's GWT uses a similar architecture and supports also a subset of Java's JDK, a different subset than Android. There is fragmentation for Java even within Google. Perhaps this is the cost of rapid development but certainly they can do better than this. A good article describing Android's Java gambit is found here.
Sun's Jonathan Schwartz noted in a blog entry his dinner invitation, at his place, to Linus Torvalds. It appears now that Jonathan may need to include Sergey and Larry on such invitation, have a good supply of java to digest the vast amount of material accumulated since the initial invite, leave egos at the door and collectively endorse, support and join the OpenJDK community.

A fragmented Java is not in the interest of developers and of the software industry. Unix offers a good example of the perils of fragmentation; it is a good idea avoiding same fate for Java.

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