Mobility

Newbie guide to Google's Android

Google's platform for mobile devices has been announced and ready for developers to get their hands dirty. Here's the basics of what it's all about and the core architecture overview.

Google's platform for mobile devices has been announced and ready for developers to get their hands dirty. Here's the basics of what it's all about and the core architecture overview.

Let's take it from the top. Android a mobile phone platform based on Linux. It's open source and will be developed by a consortium called the Open Handset Alliance, which is basically Google and a some interested mobile phone players.

Who are some of these players?
There are more than 30 including Intel, Motorola, T-Mobile, NVIDIA, HTC, China Mobile, Sprint Nextel, Telecom Italia, KDDI Corporation, eBay, Samsung, LG, Broadcom Corporation, SkyPop, Texas Instruments, and NTT DoCoMo.

Who's not involved?
Noteworthy exceptions include Nokia, Microsoft, Apple, Symbian, and any Australian telecommunications company.

Stop with the business mumbo jumbo, what can it do?
Not all the details are clear just yet but here is what has been published:

  • WebKit is under the hood - Android uses WebKit as a browser for the phone. This is the same framework found under the hood of Apple's Safari browser and others.
  • Connection types - WiFi, 3G, EDGE, and Bluetooth will be supported in Android.
  • Messaging - SMS and MMS are the current formats for messaging on the phone.
  • Media - So far Android is said to support MPEG-4, MP3, AAC, AMR, JPG, PNG and h.264 formats.
  • Hardware - Android can support GPS, touch screens, video cameras, GPS and hardware accelerators for 3D graphics.
  • Java - Under the hood is Google's Dalvik virtual machine, a special Java virtual machine. It ain't J2ME and .NET isn't currently supported. There is currently no support for native applications on the hardware either.
  • Data storage - Android uses SQLite, which is a relational database available to all applications to use.

Tell me more...
There are currently a few videos from Google outlining what Android is and explaining the architecture and the types of applications developers can build. Sit back, get a coffee or your favourite beverage and tune in:

Introduction video



Architecture Overview



Application Lifecycle



Android APIs



Building an application on Android Demo



If you're not one to watch a video then the next resource to bookmark is the Google Code homepage for Android at http://code.google.com/android/

What developer environments does Android support?
Most major OS platforms — Linux, Mac (Intel only), and Windows. The easiest way to get your hands dirty is to head to the Android documentation area to get the latest SDK and download the Eclipse plug-in. Sun are reportedly in the works of creating a plug-in for Netbeans as well.

Essential Links
The Open Handset Alliance Web site - http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/media_room.htmlThe Google Code Homepage - http://code.google.com/android/
Official Documentation Page - http://code.google.com/android/documentation.html
Android Developer's Blog - http://android-developers.blogspot.com/
Android Google Group - http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers

Well that should be it for now. Feel free to add further resources and information below and I'll add them to this blog post.

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