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SDK Shoot Out, Android Vs. IPhone

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the take-the-pepsi-challenge dept.

Handhelds 413

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister delves into the Android and iPhone SDKs to help sort out which will be the best bet for developers now that technical details of the first Android smartphone have been announced. Whereas the iPhone requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5.4 or later, ADC membership, and familiarity with proprietary Mac OS X dev tools, the standard IDE for Android is Eclipse. And because most tasks can be performed with command-line tools, you can expert third parties to develop Android SDK plug-ins for other IDEs. Objective-C, used almost nowhere outside Apple, is required for iPhone UI development, while app-level Android programming is done in Java. 'By just about any measure, Google's Android is more open and developer-friendly than the iPhone,' McAllister writes, noting Apple's gag order restrictions on documentation, proprietary software requirements to view training videos, and right to reject your finished app from the sole distribution channel for iPhone. This openness is, of course, essential to Android's prospects. 'Based on raw market share alone, the iPhone seems likely to remain the smartphone developer's platform of choice — especially when ISVs can translate that market share into application sales,' McAllister writes. 'Sound familiar? In this race, Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux.'"

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413 comments

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NDA (-1, Flamebait)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151471)

Well I for think that the Apple SDK is a big stinky pile of ................

Google looks like Linux?! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151477)

Android runs on Linux....

Biased much? (5, Funny)

pez (54) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151495)

Whereas the iPhone requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5.4 or later, ADC membership, and familiarity with proprietary Mac OS X dev tools, the standard IDE for Android is Eclipse.

So I can run any CPU from any vendor, with any OS, and no familiarity with anything, to develop for Android? Cool!

Re:Biased much? (2, Insightful)

cduffy (652) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151605)

A cross-platform toolchain is, all things being equal, preferable to a single-platform one, and likely to have a wider already-familiar userbase.

Duh.

Re:Biased much? (1, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151609)

LOL, true - and the FINANCIAL BURDEN of buying a $500 mac mini to develop on!

I agree that the iPhone is not as friendly to casual developers, though. And that is a problem for those of us who like open source stuff. A professional is not going to sweat the cost of the Mac Mini or the use of Objective C - but that sure will put off the basement developers.

Re:Biased much? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151679)

What good is an open SDK if you want load and run whatever apps you want? Having an open phone is no good if the service provider dosen't allow the freedom of the SDK and platform.

It's like how medical marijuana is legal in California but the feds insist on busting users with a prescription because it's against federal law. The laws of teh service providers nullify any perceived benefit of running an "open" platform.

Fuck those toys anyway. They're for sissy boys. You wanna be a sissy bed-wetting limpwrist like a Mac user with no freedom to do what you want? Then get a damn iPhone.

Re:Biased much? (1, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151753)

T-Mobile has already said they're limiting what can be run. No skype/voip for example.

Re:Biased much? (4, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152137)

How are they going to prevent that? Either the machine is open, or it isn't. If it's not, then Google has been deceiving us.

Re:Biased much? (1)

Malevolyn (776946) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152251)

And how long will THAT last? =]

Re:Biased much? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152269)

Huh? Where did you get that? The only thing I've heard/seen so far was that there isn't a skype application. Isn't it up to Skype to write the application for the phone?

If you look at the SDK, there's a little settings checkbox that says "Use apps not on the market" or something like that. You can put any application you can write on the phone. With the "this application provides this function" methods, you can even replace core applications.

Re:Biased much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151771)

After the $500 for the iPhone (twice, cause you wanted a 3G version) your wallet starts to feel more empty.

On the serious side. I wanted to try iPhone development. I really did. But to get to the documentation and SDK you need an account, I tried to make an account and that blew up somewhere. After 3 weeks of mailing with the support team. Still no result, while in every reply they claimed to have solved it.

Open your documentation, open your SDK, and don't make my life miserable with stupid not activating accounts. Then I might try again. I'll be waiting for my android phone (and google brain). At least when google breaks something they fix it fast. (I was hit by the ".mine.nu" block)

Re:Biased much? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151971)

At least when google breaks something they fix it fast.

Tell that to the people who lost all of their gmail!

Every company has technical foul-ups now and again.

I might grab one of these Andriod phones, if only because my contract with T-Mobile is up and I need a new phone anyway.

Re:Biased much? (3, Funny)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152107)

Gmail is still in beta.
So, you can complain about having lost email, but then again, you're using a beta product.

No, I don't care that it's in a state of permanent beta. As has been pointed out before:
1. do something better than your competitors
2. call it "beta" forever so you don't have to support anything other than reading bug reports
3. profit!

Re:Biased much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152059)

That's sort of crazy. People use open source, not because they "aren't professional", but because it provides real benefits. Its also worth keeping in mind that Palm was somewhat similar. Its api sucked, but "professionals" still wrote programs for it due to market share. My company at the time looked at developing one of our key applications on it, but it was too much of a hassle. So we just ported it to windows CE that ran on the I-paqs. We're not that huge of a company but that lead to a couple hundred purchases of the ipaqs or compatible. They would have been palms, if they had a more friendly api.

Re:Biased much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152075)

Who wants to develop on a system that doesn't do dual monitor?

Re:Biased much? (5, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151691)

Yeah, almost all the metrics mentioned in the summary are irrelevant. Objective-C is something you can probably pick up in an afternoon. It's simpler than most modern scripting languages. And if you are unable to do so, as an iPhone owner I'd say please go write your app for Google anyway.

They mention ADC "membership" as if it's anything other than a free web sign-up. It's true that you need to pay $99 to be able to put the app on a real device, though. But in exchange for the $99 you get 2 incident reports in which you can talk to actual Apple engineers and access to a worldwide marketplace tied to the most successful digital media store in history.

And... in the end, there's really no SDK shoot out in the article. Which platform is, in the end, easier to develop for? Yes, Apple does a lot of stuff proprietary-- but is it better? Interface Builder is pretty frikkin awesome. The integration of the debugger and ability to run DTrace with a sweet UI remotely on the device is very nice. There are GL ES performance monitors, database monitors, etc etc etc. Yes, you can use Eclipse with Android and someday some developers might write plugins for it, but does that really make up for all these tools? I'm curious to find out. Someone should write an article...

Re:Biased much? (3, Interesting)

Altus (1034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151933)

while I agree with you on most of the apple tools, debugger integration is not really their strongest point.

Now I haven't even looked sideways at the iPhone SDK but I'm still curious. Since xcode is just a UI on top of gcc, couldn't you just as easily do all your development for the SDK on the command line (accepting that you might be better off doing the interface development in interface builder). Sure, your probably still stuck on a mac since the SDK isn't available elsewhere, but it seems like you could use the command line or even eclipse as your SDK if you were willing to put in the time to configure it.

Re:Biased much? (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152155)

That's a good point and probably true, especially for developing for the Simulator. In fact even the helper apps (like converting to iPhone-preferred audio formats) are all command line tools. However, it seems like it would be a huge amount of work for little gain to unhook it from XCode, but I would be surprised if it couldn't be done once you figure out the zillion-and-one configuration issues.

I know we're all under NDA, but I've had very little problems with debugger integration. There's sometimes the frustrating unexplained BAD_ACCESS, but in general I can see threads, allocations, I/O, memory leaks, locks, allocations, SQL reads/writes/locks, OpenGL monitors, etc etc etc. I thought it was pretty impressive myself. Gotta love DTrace.

Re:Biased much? (4, Informative)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152207)

"...debugger integration is not really their strongest point."

You should really take a sideways look at the iPhone SDK. The debugger integration is solid and almost up there with Visual Studio for memory and thread debugging.

While xcode is technically just a wrapper on top of GCC, Apple has done an enormous amount of work to integrate all elements of the toolchain into the environment in a way that enhances developer productivity.

I used xcode when it first came out and was underwhelmed - it was really just a simple gcc wrapper back then. But, it's evolved significantly and makes the GNU tools it's built on actually efficient to use (think using the CLI version of gdb for debugging compiled, multi-threaded code on remote devices... sure, you can do it, but it's a time sink).

-Chris

Re:Biased much? (2, Informative)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152271)

XCode is just a UI for editing files and running command line build commands. So, one could probably do everything from the command line. But the whole thing comes configured for iPhone development, and it is nice to hit the button and have the app show up on the phone. I prefer to spend my time developing...at least until there is something that I can not do in XCode.
I do prefer Eclipse, and the differences in completion and help are slightly annoying, but I would not say that XCode, or Obj-C are getting in the way.

Re:Biased much? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152325)

XCode is just a UI for editing files and running command line build commands.

Well, you could say the same thing about Visual Studio and eclipse and all other IDEs. Back in my day, I developed in emacs and vi, but there's a developer out there who could scoff at me because he coded in binary using smoke signals. :P

Re:Biased much? (1, Interesting)

ghoti (60903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151749)

This is a bullshit comparison that doesn't go deeper than "NDA bad, Linux good." What about the actual API? The tools available for profiling code and debugging? GUI designer? Simulator? I like Eclipse and Java, but Xcode and the tools in the iPhone SDK are pretty damn awesome, I doubt that Android is anywhere near that.

Re:Biased much? (5, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152085)

Wow, what a treat we have today:

It's a Slashdot user with a 2 digit user ID, they're very rare.

OK, take some photos, but be very quiet in case you startle it. Don't point your flash directly at its eyes since it's probably unaccustomed to bright light and you might blind it.

When you're done, I'll be over there with the rest of the tour group.

The short version: Open != !Open. (2, Funny)

tpz (1137081) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151505)

No need for a message when the subject line says it all.

yo taco, post some good stories (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151509)

what we need is a discussion on whether ladies should shave their beaver bald, or leave a little bit of hair (runway strip, squirrel tail, or hitler style).

Re:yo taco, post some good stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151931)

Obviously they should be naturally hairless.

The only thing that matters... (4, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151521)

is which of these damn phones is going to make its owner a better human being? I mean, that IS why we buy these things, right?

We buy MACs as conversation starters, PCs because we are depressed and dont like ourselves, and are gluttons for punishment.

Which of these phones is going to make me more attractive? Which phone will increase the size of my- er, um, bank account?

I dont just want a fuckin phone, I want a phone to provide solutions to Global Warming, AIDS and Fat People. THAT is the phone I want, dammit!

Re:The only thing that matters... (3, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151675)

I want a phone to provide solutions to Global Warming, AIDS and Fat People.

You just gave me a great idea for an iPhone app. Look for it soon on the App store!

Re:The only thing that matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151835)

I want a phone to provide solutions to Global Warming, AIDS and Fat People.

You just gave me a great idea for an iPhone app. Look for it soon on the App store!

Nah, it won't get approved. You'd be replicating the functionality of the iPod Home screen.

Re:The only thing that matters... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152215)

You just gave me a great idea for an iPhone app. Look for it soon on the App store!

Actually that's how things will work. Google will innovate with its cool apps, which Apple will HAVE TO copy to retain its market share.

"Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower."
- from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9

Re:The only thing that matters... (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151787)

Give the fat people AIDS. They'll lose weight and die, decreasing the amount of methane they produce, which will solve global warming.

Hmmm... (5, Insightful)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151547)

In this race, Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux.

It's more like Apple is taking a page from Apple's book and Google looks suspiciously like Microsoft.

For all their faults, Microsoft have always been more developer friendly than Apple.

Re:Hmmm... (3, Insightful)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151727)

Indeed, let us all be glad that Microsoft won the PC war instead of Apple. Jobs would have been worse.

Re:Hmmm... (-1, Troll)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152057)

Don't assume, or you risk making an ass out of u.

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152287)

and 'me'.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151773)

In the 1990s, Microsoft used its developer mindshare to drive desktop user adoption despite being user-unfriendly.

Now, Apple is using its user mindshare to drive mobile developer adoption despite being developer-unfriendly.

Developers Developers Developers... (1)

ttigue (1305311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152335)

Yeah, I don't get the comparison of the iphone model to Microsoft. Windows has always had alot of 3rd party applications and devices running on their platform. This seems to be what google is going for with android. They want to make it easy for the development community to come up with the applications to fill out their platform. I don't see any reason to defend Apple here. It IS harder to publish applications for the iphone. It's the same model as all of the Apple OSes.

very high level article (4, Informative)

trawg (308495) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151589)

I actually RTFA because I clicked on it before there were comments, got to the end and went looking for the next page link - but there isn't one. It's pretty light on any interesting technical details - mentions some stuff about the IDE, the frameworks ("one is Java and the other is Objective-C") and ends with the same question everyone else is asking, at the moment - which will be better.

If you've payed any attention at all to both Android and iPhone development already there's probably not much in there you won't have picked up from casually reading bits and pieces. Unfortunately. Let me know when there's a nice in-depth article available!

Re:very high level article (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151697)

I read it too. It's a troll.

"Apple makes you use Apple stuff." Boo-hoo. Does that surprise anyone?

Android is more open. That's a given. That was a major design goal.

How about the real question: how well does the iPhone framework work for developing applications? I've heard it's very nice, and very similar to desktop Mac programming so it's an easy transition for Mac developers. How nice is the Android setup? It it easier/harder to make simple applications? More complex things?

How about an SDK shootout actually looks at at least the names of the functions you use and tries to guess if one is easier to develop.

This isn't a "shootout", it's more punditry.

Re:very high level article (5, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151853)

How about the real question: how well does the iPhone framework work for developing applications? I've heard it's very nice, and very similar to desktop Mac programming so it's an easy transition for Mac developers. How nice is the Android setup? It it easier/harder to make simple applications? More complex things?

Well, see, for me it doesn't even make sense get to this part. It doesn't matter how nice the SDK might be when the reward for spending a not that small amount of money on the reqired hardware and the subscription, and weeks or months of my time on development could be having my application removed from the store, and Apple actually forbidding me from telling my customers what happened.

Now when Apple stops being stupid, then I will become interested in comparing them on their technical development merits.

Re:very high level article (1)

dara (119068) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152109)

I mostly agree with the idea that my impression of an SDK shootout was it would give me an idea of the ease of development of a particular type of application given some familiarity with the design flow on each platform. But it is also true that there are a few annoyances on the Apple SDK side. I have access to a Mac, but it is one point behind on the OS - no go. Maybe there is some justification for this, but it still is annoying. If I get the person who owns this Mac to upgrade it, I still am extremely unhappy with some of the terms of the SDK involving what you can talk about in forums with other developers. One of the main apps I'd like to see on Android or iPhone (I haven't picked a platform yet) is the ability to view topographic maps (either freely available, or ideally, ones you have purchased from say National Geographic like I have) whether or not the phone is connected to the network. I can see the likelihood of this type of app being much greater if it can be developed in a more community like atmosphere than the one Apple currently has in mind. So the other stuff matters too. Probably articles should be written towards one point or the other and then titled appropriately.

Dara Parsavand

Re:very high level article (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152031)

I also think an accurate analysis cannot be made unless there are several Android-based devices on the market. That was the other advantage of Android, right? That it could run on many different phones from many different manufacturers without issues? I will be applauding Android if they get _that_ goal right.

Re:very high level article (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152285)

How about an SDK shootout actually looks at at least the names of the functions you use and tries to guess if one is easier to develop.

Well, since the Apple NDA on the SDK prevents you from talking about it, you can't write about actual functions on the iPhone.

Re:very high level article (4, Informative)

einer (459199) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151781)

As a Java programmer who used to program in Objective-C, I can tell you right now Objective-C is easier, cleaner and nicer to program. It's dynamically typed, where Java tries to enforce static typing. GUI-wise, it's a total win for Cocoa. The widgets and controls are an order of magnitude easier to understand and use than Java's swing/awt/swt nightmare. My biggest complaint with OC is garbage collection (which is no longer an issue as of 2.0). Also, Java has a much larger community. For those two reasons alone, Java wins the mindshare, but if you're asking me which one I'd rather program in, it's Objective-C hands down.

Re:very high level article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152339)

> It's dynamically typed, where Java tries to enforce static typing

Yuck

> than Java's swing/awt/swt nightmare

What? AWT - Depricated, SWT - 3rd party. Swing - Where the fun shit is.

huh? (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151599)

requires a intel mac?

dont tell that to my G5... it's happily working.

Re:huh? (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151951)

Guess my Classic II is out then...

Re:huh? (2, Interesting)

mr_majestyk (671595) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151995)

er looks like you didn't RTFA...the iPhone SDK only works on Intel-based Macs

Apple looks like Apple (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151613)

Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux."

No, Apple looks pretty much like Apple, and Android looks as much like Microsoft as it does Linux.

The big caveat (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151631)

No standard headphone jack = no sale for this consumer. Looking forward to future android offerings though.

Re:The big caveat (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152319)

Likewise. It's a non-starter to have an phone with an MP3 player that I can't charge while listening to, and that I can't use my favourite headphones with without a (break-prone) adapter. I've also heard that the initial release doesn't support bluetooth headsets ... can anyone provide more info on that?

Cycle of Oppression (4, Funny)

hashax (1190057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151639)

We have seen it for thousands of generations, the oppressed/rebel kid/cool dude becomes the oppressor. Apple is the new Microsoft. Pretty soon Google will be the new Microsoft, who knows what next.

What I do know is eventually it'll lead to by the law of natural selection the most oppressive organisation in the form of Skynet and mankind's only hope will be an Austrian Terminator (no no Summer Glau of Sarah Connor Chronicles is NOT a fighter type more like a japanese maid robot)

p.s. we do have to melt the terminator in the end just to be on the safe side

Re:Cycle of Oppression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151761)

Well that's my work day done. All I can picture now is Summer Glau in a French maid outfit. Yes I know you didn't mention 'French' my mind just worked that detail out itself.

I'll be in my bunk.

Re:Cycle of Oppression (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151769)

I don't care what type she is... I'd rather be saved by Glau than Schwarzedeaefetragfdfad... I'm not gonna lie to you... I don't really know how to spell his last name.

That's all good if you like Eclipse and Java (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151655)

IT's Java dude... I can't take that seriously any more than I can take C# seriously... yet another garbage collected slow as hell compiling on load environment. I'd take Objective C any day of the week over that.

iTraining you to use iTunes (2, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151659)

And before you can view the training videos, you must first download them (for free) from the iTunes Store. Windows users, that means you'll need to install QuickTime and iTunes --

Oh, you mean I HAVE to install iTunes to watch the training videos? Bummer.

Re:iTraining you to use iTunes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151737)

Oh, you mean I HAVE to install iTunes to watch the training videos? Bummer.

If you want to use your iPhone you have to install iTunes. So that's no extra burden.

Re:iTraining you to use iTunes (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151955)

Not true. The iPhone works fine without a PC (provided you do the activation in-store, of course). There might be some applications you can't download directly, but there are many you can; I'm not sure about music & video, but I just use a free app to grab stuff from a shared folder on my network, which is great for using it to transfer files.

Re:iTraining you to use iTunes (1)

WiseWeasel (92224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152195)

You can download them all directly over WiFi...

The phone's the thing... (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151717)

The iPhone is primarily an awesome hand-held phone, GPS, PDA, etc. Pre-loaded 1st-party apps are what make the device sing. The ability to get 3rd-party apps is a secondary benefit. Most people buying this device are using it for what it comes with. This will be the case more and more as the device becomes more mainstream.

I hope that Android phones don't focus on the development aspects first, and the 1st-party applications second. If the device has all the same nice features of an iPhone + is better to develop for, then great. But if it does not have the ease-of-use and functionality of an iPhone right off the bat, then it won't succeed.

Re:The phone's the thing... (3, Insightful)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151851)

Developers are what make an OS. If you attract the developers to your platform then they will think of things that you never even dreamed of. It is like getting a huge group of software engineers for free to help sell your product. Think of Windows if it only had Word, Excel, and Outlook (and paint).

Re:The phone's the thing... (4, Insightful)

thammoud (193905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152055)

While I absolutely agree with you, it is a lot more important to initially get a phone with first class applications preloaded. Most normal users will not go hunting for "better" version of apps (Think Firefox vs IE). They will use what is installed. From what I am reading, the Android applications are of lower quality to those of the IPhone. This is very disappointing.

Re:The phone's the thing... (2)

booyabazooka (833351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151889)

Yeah, "1st-party" is definitely the only way to go. Time has shown that "the community" sucks at making software. This silly OSS fad is no match for paying a crapload of money to Apple.

I thought the point of the open SDK was to *change* this notion that the phone and the software that comes with it are synonymous.

Re:The phone's the thing... (1)

toQDuj (806112) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151983)

Somehow I think consumers would not like to download a "phone"-app first (and have to choose between a plethora of not-quite-similar products), before they can use it as a phone. So yes, first-party applications ARE important.

B.

"1st party?" (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152123)

1st-party applications? You mean you have to program it yourself?

If you want to say that the seller of the phone provides apps, you mean second-party.

App Level Programming (0, Flamebait)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151719)

Objective-C, used almost nowhere outside Apple, is required for iPhone UI development, while app-level Android programming is done in Java

Developers weren't happy when Apple told them to go write their programs as Javascript webapps instead of native code with the first iPhoneOS, why would they be any happier being told to write applications in Java? Thankfully it's not as limited as Javascript, but it's still not native code. I think this will be the Achilles Heel for Android, just like it was for iPhoneOS 1.x.

And what's with the complaining about Objective-C? If you can write in C++, you can write in Objective-C. It's slightly different from everything else in some fairly trivial ways, some better and some worse but none of them a significant change. It's not as if Apple is forcing everyone to write in Fortran.

Re:App Level Programming (2, Interesting)

Alioth (221270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151953)

Who says it doesn't end up as native code? Java has had JIT compilers for years now. They even only compile the code to native once, too.

Re:App Level Programming (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151965)

You must be joking. Comparing Javascript to Java in terms of 'nativity' or saying that C++ and Objective-C are 'slightly different' in 'trivial ways' betrays your lack of IT experience right off the bat, sorry ;-)

It's true that neither Java nor Javascript are 'native' compiled code in the traditional sense, but it's still not a fair comparison. Javascript's runtime environment is the browser which is (by design) very limited in the amount of access it can have to the underlying system, hardware, etc. Java's runtime environment, the JVM, on the other hand, can be arbitrarily privleged, and depending on how the OS is laid out, can do just about anything any native app can do (at a perhaps minor performance penalty). Seeing as they plan to have Android running on a bunch of different phones, the choice of Java is pretty much a 'must' if they want to have any sort of ubiquity as a 'platform'.

Also, Objective-C and C++ are quite, quite different. It would be easier to list their similarities than their differences -- they both have the basic goal of providing object-oriented facilities to C. That's about where the similarities end; C++ goes the route we've all come to know and love (hate), while Objective-C goes for a more pure "Smalltalk"-style message-passing paradigm. The similarities between the approaches are cosmetic -- the kinds of problems you run into in these two languages are quite different.
 
  Besides, the main difficulty in writing apps for the iPhone is learning Cocoa, not Objective-C. Most programmers can pick up new languages (even fairly unique ones) in a matter of days or weeks (at least to a passable level of competence), but a giant framework like Cocoa is hugely intimidating and often changing and much harder to find resources for.

Re:App Level Programming (1)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152093)

Besides, the main difficulty in writing apps for the iPhone is learning Cocoa, not Objective-C. Most programmers can pick up new languages (even fairly unique ones) in a matter of days or weeks (at least to a passable level of competence), but a giant framework like Cocoa is hugely intimidating and often changing and much harder to find resources for.

Not to mention learning Xcode. It's not exactly the most intuitive IDE around.

Re:App Level Programming (1)

ztirffritz (754606) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152201)

I rather liked FORTRAN.

Re:App Level Programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25152305)

If I can't use C++ on Android then forget it. I'm not porting all that code to JAVA, and I don't want a runtime between the screen and my game. I see that its possible but not really supported. So support it. Or forget it.

Google is too late for the party (1)

Starturtle (1148659) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151731)

Perhaps if Google had come out with this a year or so before the iPhone but unfortunately most of us geeks have made a choice for the next 3 years.

Innovative App??? (1)

caldwelljt (927040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151745)

I may be naive, but wouldn't a innovative application that isn't available or barred on iPhone propel Android to the front? I'm at a loss for what this could be, but are there any good ideas from the slash-dot community as to what this could be and/or if it's already in the works?

What about the market leaders? (4, Informative)

ncw (59013) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151763)

It would be nice to see comparisons of the market leaders with development for iPhone / Android.

Based on raw market share, Symbian is the market leader (57%), followed by Blackberry (17%), Windows Mobile (12%), Linux (7%) and then iPhone (2.8%). Android yet to make a showing!

( Figures from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone [wikipedia.org] )

I've done Symbian developement and there are lots of ways of doing it. Nokia's C/C++ API, Java or even Python. It isn't 100% open as in you can't have the source code of the OS, but the APIs are all documented and there aren't any restrictions on what your apps can do. If you want your apps signed it can be harder I'm told, but I've never tried that.

Re:What about the market leaders? (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151941)

Well, Android is actually just google-shininess on top of Linux, so I'd say it adds to the Linux share, rather than warranting its own.

What's that smell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151779)

From TFA:

the iPhone seems likely to remain the smartphone developer's platform of choice

I'd love to see some numbers behind the assertion that it is now!

I suspect that the application marketshare for phones is more likely to be something like:

1) Nokia S60
2) Windows Mobile
3) Blackberry
4) Apple
5) Other

Blackberry might be higher simply because there are a few large organisations deploying high-value apps there (Bloomberg, that sort of thing). Don't underestimate the sheer volume of S60 stuff, either.

Apple may still have something (3, Insightful)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151793)

As a fan of OS X, and Apple in general, I think they are trying to see how far they can push their control over the matter.

On the subject of their NDA, I'm not an insider, but it seems stupid, unnecessary, and harmful to me.

Android may be more open, but that does not always mean it's better. A few things are for certain:
- no one is comparing Android to Blackberry. It seems that the iPhone has become the de-facto one to kill.
- it will sure be interesting to see the battle between iPhone's closed development model on a hot device, and Android's open development on so-so devices.

They may just both win on their own merits.

SDK is not the issue (1)

sircastor (1051070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151805)

Apple's policies are. The iPhone would be a much better platform to develop on if a developer didn't find out after spending his time programming that his application was going to be thrown out. It would help if Apple's policies were more open. It's unfortunate and frustrating that this is the case.

Hate Apple but don't appreciate Android as much (2, Interesting)

prayag (1252246) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151809)

I appreciate Android's open platform. I also appreciate Google's effort.

However, I have my qualms. It is not possible to write native application in C/C++. Everything has to go through the virtual machine. I haven't developed for Android except write a simple Hello World. But, I would like to write my own native application that run on the Linux kernel.

I do not like the iPhone, I hate Apple's brick walls around their platform which is anti to what Apple once stood for. 3rd party apps has made Symbian/WM the most popular mobile platforms and you cannot expect a long term growth with such iron fist.

Re:Hate Apple but don't appreciate Android as much (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151979)

As soon as they open the source code it will be made possible.

The problem is that you may not then be able to upload modified versions to the T-Mobile handset. But that's where open hardware comes in. I hesitate to say openmoko. because I think it's likely a little underpowered, but the principle is there.

Re:Hate Apple but don't appreciate Android as much (2, Informative)

maraist (68387) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151993)

I hate Apple's brick walls around their platform which is anti to what Apple once stood for.

Funny, I always thought of Apple as a walled off isolationistic company. Where have you been? Granted they make GREAT products in their walled garden, but that was always the barrier to entry.. Apple's way or the highway. Yes I understand you probably mean programming for the desktop, but you could only ever extend so much - you had to work with what was given. IANAMP (I Am Not A Mac Programmer)

Re:Hate Apple but don't appreciate Android as much (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152041)

Once reason for the virtual machine with Android may be that Google isn't going to be vetting apps as much as Apple. So apps will need some sort of sandbox environment for now.

We can hope that someday native apps will be common once there is a robust way of reducing the chance of rogue ones slipping through. Maybe something like what the linux distributions use to control and update apps.

Re:Hate Apple but don't appreciate Android as much (2, Insightful)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152053)

It's my understanding that Android runs on the VM in order to enable it to be cross platform. I mean Cross platform in that the hardware specifics of the handset don't matter as long as the handset implements the android spec correctly. Developing a native app for Android would be difficult, because there could be different hardware specifications across phones that implement the platform. You could be looking at different processors...ARMs, Motorolas, maybe even x86s now that they're getting so small (ugh, just what we need)..honestly though I don't really know what they put in phones...but I'd imagine that it's not uniform by any means. I guess you're trading one evil for another...being trapped in Objective-C/Cocoa/Carbon-ite to being trapped in Java. Tough call.

Apple is willing to own the user experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25151811)

I think the difference is that if something about your iPhone sucks then Apple is willing to take the blame because they had the power to prevent it. You get an integrated user experience, and keeping up a good universal interface requires an enforcer.

Google's attitude is just like the web. They provide search but don't blame them for the crap you find once you follow a link. Sure, they try to give relevant results but it's an arms race with web developers and they don't make any promises. Android sounds like the same philosophy.

I use Linux on my desktop, but for any kind of portable device, even a laptop, I want it designed by Apple so it just works.

Competition. (3, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151813)

I don't see how Android can be fairly compared with the iPhone given that the iPhone is already into it's second iteration and Android has just been released.

Everything else aside, I think the competition is great. I do give credit to Apple for helping to invigorate this market. Well, RIM and Palm probably deserve a lot of the credit, but Apple really gave this market a swift kick in the pants.

Apple rejects apps (0, Troll)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151815)

If I was developing for smartphones that would be the deal breaker for me. Invest a lot of time and effort into some great app and then Apple just up and decides to reject it, because they want to sell theirs with no competition (or they just don't like it)? No way I would work on that platform.

Objective-C vs. Java (-1, Troll)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151865)

Objective-C vs. Java? Seems I can't use Java's verbosity against it this time (see UIKit's applicationDidReciveMemoryWarning, etc;). There is no excuse however for Java's longer method names (see Integer.toCryptStringOnMondaysWednesdaysAndAlternateFridays() )

Here are my first impressions (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151909)

We know first impressions are important.

I find that Google's Android looks more ancient as compared to the iPhone. In terms of functionality, I would like to be able to tether both gadgets to my computer as a link to the internet for a computer.

This is not possible with either!

Now, whether Android's openness will make this happen faster, is a wait and see issue. On the other hand, I know Apple is a big surprises company too, so I will not rule it out at this time.

Python? (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151913)

I've been disappointed with the lack of Python on these smartphone devices. Android might be a suitable platform for python scripting, but little work has been done to enable it that I've seen. Nokia's N810 is pretty much a perfect environment for python, with fairly strong support for making portable apps with just a little bit of extra work to use their standard maemo skins and widgets. Even if it didn't come with python stock, I was able to get python, pygame, and pymaemo going within a couple hours of unboxing my device. But of course, the N810 isn't a phone. Android looks like it would be really really close to the N810 developmentwise, but I will not go back to the cumbersome and complicated Java development world to make a few simple apps.

Re:Python? (1)

ickyb0d (975453) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151975)

I know most symbian [symbian.com] (including lots of Nokia) phones support python, which as just as good as Andriod or the iPhone OS. Why not Andriod vs Symbian vs iPhone SDK?

Re:Python? (1)

jDeepbeep (913892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151981)

I've been disappointed with the lack of Python on these smartphone devices.

PyObjC [sourceforge.net]

Re:Python? (1)

SEMW (967629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152165)

I've never used it, so I could be wrong; but as far as I can tell from the website, PyObjC wouldn't be any good here: it describes itself as "A bridge that allows Python scripts to use and extend existing Objective-C class libraries", *not* as something that can compile Python down to Objective C. So it wouldn't let you write iPhone apps unless someone ports Python to the iPhone.

Jython, on the other hand, *can* compile python down to java bytecode, and so could be used to compile python scripts for Android without having to port Python to Android. (Not that the latter would be that hard, since Android is basically Linux, which CPython already runs on).

Jython (3, Informative)

SEMW (967629) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152049)

Jython [jython.org] : "A compiler to compile Python source code down to Java bytecode which can run directly on a JVM".

*sigh* (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25151943)

Android vs iPhone?

Neither of them compare to Symbian OS, or Java or even Windows Mobile for that matter.

iphone is really only a big deal in America. Outside of the US it is average to sub-par.

Let's put this in perspective.. (1)

houbou (1097327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152017)

If I were developing apps for a phone, I would go Android in a heartbeat. Simple. Right?

At face value, it seems to be the right choice.

But the issue here isn't about which phone offers a better platform to develop, but which phone will be better as a phone!

Will the Google phone be a really good phone?

For the most of us, we want great reception, we want quality transmission and voice. And of course, great rates.

So, if the Google phone is as good or better than the iPhone as an actual phone, and their marketing makes it more appealing to users than the iPhone, then, anyone wanting to develop apps for a phone, would be getting a better chance at success with the Google phone.

This is where Android kicks ass, because of it's open sourceness and the fact that if Google phone is to be more popular, it will mean a larger client based to sell these apps.

What? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152125)

Your post missed the boat on so many points that you might even ask if there is a boat.

There is an no google phone (yet), google has made a platform and OS if you like. Not a phone.

Reception is hardware and has nothing to do with the software. It is also largely tied into the service provider, not the phone itself. The best phone can't receive a signal were there isn't one.

Rates have nothing whatsoever to do with the phone but are totally dependent on your contract with your service provider.

Furthermore if all you are intrested is a good phone, you really don't need either as far simpler and cheaper phone that don't have to subsidised with high rates are easily available.

What about Windows Mobile? (3, Interesting)

holiggan (522846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152139)

How does the Windows Mobile devices stand in this "war"? They are easy to develop to (at least based on the number of applications available), they have been in the market for much longer, and they don't have any of the iPhone restrictions regarding the instalation of applications.

It's really weird to read that "Based on raw market share alone, the iPhone seems likely to remain the smartphone developer's platform of choice"... Don't tell me that the iPhone already outselled every single Windows-based PDA/Smartphone sold in the last 10-or-so years...

Now, I see the Android as a much serious threat to Microsoft in the smartphone playground than the iPhone. If the Android devices are polished and slick enough, the public might catch on them, and with the openness regarding the development process, the comunity would surely correct the eventual rough edges. That's simply not the case with the iPhone: why can't I use another email client on the iPhone? Oh, right, it "competes" with the native aplication...

Corrected Requirements (5, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152193)

Whereas the iPhone requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5.4 or later, ADC membership, and familiarity with proprietary Mac OS X dev tools, the standard IDE for Android is Eclipse.

iPhone SDK requirements to develop an iPhone app:
OS X 10.5.3 or later (Intel or G5)
ADC membership (free but requires registration)
XCode (free bundled with OS X Tiger and above but not installed)
Objective-C language

To distribute iPhone app:
Yearly License: Individual $99 or Enterprise $299

Android: [google.com]
Windows XP or Vista, OS X Tiger or higher, or Linux (tested on Ubuntu Dapper Drake)
Eclipse 3.3 or 3.4 (free download from eclipse.org)
Java JDK 1.5 or 1.6 (free from Sun)
Apache Ant 1.65 (Linux/OS X), 1.7 (Windows) (free from apache.org)

Good chart at engadget. [engadget.com]

OpenMoko (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152225)

Out of curiosity has anyone tried openMoko? If so, how does it compare to Android and iPhone SDK? I like the fact that it supports Qt 3

Users vs Developers (5, Insightful)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25152307)

User interests beat developer interests, assuming that the first doesn't utterly cripple the second. And it does have to utterly cripple them to cause a problem.

* Every Wikipedia story, Slashdot commenters bitch about their experiences of participation. However, the site's still #7 in the world, so what's it doing right? Focusing on the reader [davidgerard.co.uk] .

* GPL (a user-rights license) vs BSD. Compare the popularity of Linux versus FreeBSD.

* iPhone vs Android. The best mobile phone interface ever. In this case, Apple is going further than anyone before in trying to utterly cripple developer interest - but if you can work an SDK then that many users is going to be attractive.

Openness will get Android a fabulous ticky-box feature list ... but, y'know, Windows Mobile has a fabulous ticky-box feature list, and no-one picks that instead of an iPhone if they have a choice.

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