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While the iPhone continues to snub Java, Google looks to step up to the plate

When Google announced that it was working on a phone project, many fantasized that it was making a "GPhone", similar to Apple Inc.'s iPhone.  Google surprised many when it was revealed that it was instead creating a Linux-driven OS and development environment to compete with Symbian and Microsoft's mobile phone operating systems.  Google is taking the project very seriously and is offering $10M to developers and startups to develop creative software for the platform.

Google released the Android SDK with much aplomb in November, confident it would rock the industry -- it did for some extent.  The platform gained strong support from T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola, and other key industry players.  It has been opposed by Verizon and AT&T, though, who were concerned that it would undercut their proprietary.

Now a new version of the SDK is out and with it is some new improvements.  The programming interfaces and development tools have been updated to be more functional and easier to use.  Google has added a new OS user interface, which includes an OS X dock look-alike.  It has also added the capability to create layout animations for applications.  The phone now supports many more formats, including OGG.  It also includes geo-coding support and a new Eclipse plug-in.

What is really interesting is not so much the minor iterative details, but the big picture of what Google is trying to do.  With Android, Google is emphasizing not only the importance of SDKs for phone operating systems, but also the value of Java support for mobile applications.  While Java seems a natural fit for mobile applications, it was snubbed by Apple's Jobs and did not appear in the iPhone.  Jobs was quoted as saying, "
Java’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain."

However, many argue that the iPhone and iPod lineups onboard iTunes components could be much better written and full featured if they were written in Java, which was made for such cross-platform embedded scenarios.  Google is championing Java, and unlike other Java SDKs for mobile applications, is letting programmers work with the phone on a deeper native level -- a first.  It feels that by doing this it can leave less full-featured phones like the iPhone in the dust. 

One key competitor to Google will be Sun's own JavaFX Mobile SDK, which is currently under development.  Where Google basically uses its own brand of Java with “Dalvik” bytecode, Sun supports traditional Java bytecode.  This means that while Google's Android SDK can run equally deep and full featured software to Sun's offerings, there will be no working code base for it from legacy code. 

Who will win the mobile phone industry -- Android SDK with an early launch and lots of financial backing, or JavaFX Mobile SDK with its more traditional Java support -- remains to be seen.  However, it is clear that Google is very committed to pushing both mobile SDKs and Java.  Sun and Google are certainly united on one issue -- that the iPhone and various other phone maker's lack of native Java support is a glaring, and ultimately fatal, flaw.

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Listen up verizon!
By NullSubroutine on 2/15/2008 10:30:18 AM , Rating: 3
Use their OS!! Yours sucks!

I can't stand Verizon's OS its ugly, pitiful, and tries to force you to buy everything through Verizon even when the phone supports it natively.

I had to hack my KRZR last year just to put my own background and music on it, while those who bought it through other cell carriers and used Motorola OS only had to drag and drop files after installing a driver.

RE: Listen up verizon!
By SlipDizzy on 2/15/2008 10:41:22 AM , Rating: 2
I have Verizon as well and I will admit that their actual service (in my area) is very strong. I drop very few calls compared to other companies in my area.

However, I will say that their OS is total crap. The OS is enough to make me want to switch to another phone, but I don't think I could deal with the connection I'd get from other companies. I've tried T-Mobil, Sprint (before the merge), and AT&T, and they all drop calls. GET RID OF THE JUNK OS VERIZON!

Note: I'm not saying Verizon > All. I'm just stating that in my area they seem to have the better signal strength.

RE: Listen up verizon!
By Natfly on 2/17/2008 7:30:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'd have to agree, Verizon has great service but they purposefully cripple their phones so you pay for more of their services.

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