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Android 3.0 Platform Preview and SDK Is Here

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the to-enslave-you-with-passion dept.

Android 129

mikejuk writes "Google has released the Android 3.0 SDK, to allow developers time to create the apps that will run on the flood of tablet devices that should be availalble later in the year. The preview includes improved 2D and 3D graphics, new user interface controls, support for multicore processors, DRM and enterprise security features. It is complete with a 3.0 emulator that you can use to try applications on, but you can't add them to the app market just yet."

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Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35024368)

Any chance we'll get rid of Java?

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35024402)

Fat Chance.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (2, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024424)

Not likely, and apart from various forms of trolls, there's no reason to.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (2)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024542)

There is a reason to if it's likely that Oracle's lawsuits will be successful. If that came to pass, the handset manufacturers (or Google) would be required to pay Oracle. At that point it might be cheaper for them to use Windows Phone. Of course it may also drive the manufacturers to MeeGo as well.

Speculative future; oh hell yes, but there may be reasons for getting rid of Java.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

doconnor (134648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024618)

It might be even cheaper to Google to just buy Oracle.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024862)

Unless Google can whip out 166 billion from it's ass, there's a fat chance of that.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025388)

I'm sure that will happen around when Red Hat's acquisition of Microsoft gets past the regulators, and when Dell is in negotiations for the purchase of IBM.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (3, Funny)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024760)

Google might just end up making a new VM system, similar to what Microsoft did with .NET.

This might have some advantages. Perhaps language independence could be put in, so Java source code files can be used, but they would compile to the new VM format, similar to how Microsoft's J# compiled to .NET. This way, someone can use Java syntax, C++ syntax, heck, even a version of BASIC and still get the same bytecode coming out. Add JIT, and there would be little performance overhead.

Oracle doesn't seem to be doing much with Java anyway, so if Google made a VM system from scratch, perhaps it might be better overall in the long haul, especially if it was designed from the ground up for security, learning the mistakes Sun/Oracle made.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (4, Informative)

flight666 (30842) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024960)

Android has it's own VM system, and it's called Dalvik. It has language independence built in so Java source files can be used... they compile to DEX, the Dalvik bytecode format. It does JIT.

Please tell me that the above was (well-disguised) sarcasm.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (2)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025978)

Google might just end up making a new VM system, similar to what Microsoft did with .NET.

How would that be different though? MS still pay royalties to Oracle (initially to Sun) for patents used in the .Net system. If Google loses the case with Oracle over Java they will end up paying royalties just like MS does now.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026112)

Perhaps language independence could be put in,

I remember reading about Java years ago when it was new. One of the things they seemed proudest of was the VM, since it would allow many languages to be combined. Perhaps it was mis-designed and ended up begin Java specific, but I thought there were other languages now available.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026338)

Scala, Python, Ruby, Closure, Groovy and a few more.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35028000)

Oracle's lawsuit is because Google created their own VM system rather than copying the JVM. Oracle believes that any VM system that infringes on their patents (basically any VM system more modern and efficient than the UCSD p-System) should either be compatible with the J2SE specification, or should be licensed with Oracle getting paid out of the deal.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025972)

There are plenty of reasons. Native code will always perform better and consume less battery life. Very important on a mobile device.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (0)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026064)

But getting less and less important every year.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35024438)

Though you're likely trolling... you can compile and run native code on Android, but that, of course, has the drawbacks of native code.
http://developer.android.com/sdk/ndk/index.html

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (0, Troll)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024896)

you can compile and run native code on Android,

Sure if you want code that still runs just as crappy as the regular stuff since it all still runs in the VM.

but that, of course, has the drawbacks of native code.

The drawback of having to be a competent programmer rather than a mouth-breathing Java code slinger?

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026596)

Sure if you want code that still runs just as crappy as the regular stuff since it all still runs in the VM.

I'm not sure you understand what it means: it doesn't actually compile C/C++ to bytecode, it runs native code, which interfaces with a virtualized machine. So no, it doesn't run "just as crappy".

The drawback of having to be a competent programmer rather than a mouth-breathing Java code slinger?

Considering the Android platform, which runs on everything from ARM smartphones, TVs and tablets to x86 laptops, a JIT that can optimize to any specific architecture at runtime will probably outperform the native code objects, since no developer has thousands of dollars and enough time to optimize, test and debug for each CPU model.
But I'll get off your lawn now.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027238)

a JIT that can optimize to any specific architecture at runtime will probably outperform the native code objects, since no developer has thousands of dollars and enough time to optimize, test and debug for each CPU model.

What the FUCK is this shit?

Code compiled to actual machine code will always be faster than something that has to be compiled on the fly.

Most developers worth a damn DO have "thousands of dollars" and plenty of time to test, debug, and optimize for many platforms - they choose not to test in general because no one hold developers responsible for their fuck ups anymore.

And they'd get no additional benefit to testing the same code across multiple platforms. Either it works or it's the platform's, or rarely, the compiler's, fault. This is why you design for the lowest common denominator of the hardware you plan to support.

Developers don't have to spend vast amounts of extra money or time to compile or test for different platforms. You just set a fucking flag for your target architecture when you call your compiler. If it builds runs, and in general doesn't explode, it's as good to go as it was on the other platforms. Any cross-platform fuckups at this point would occur with a VM setup as well.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35028026)

This is why you design for the lowest common denominator of the hardware you plan to support.

My whole point. The JIT can actually use each hardware's capabilities, by compiling to machine code specifically for it. And considering that with the multitude of platforms for Android, the lowest common denominator may be very basic.

Why? (1)

sidragon.net (1238654) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024610)

Can you give some reasons why Java is bad for Android?

Re:Why? (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026086)

Patent trolling by Oracle would be reason #1.

It would be nice to be able to use a language that wasn't half boilerplate, as well.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024628)

Yes, Scala runs fine on Dalvik, as does anything that generates Java bytecodes (due to cross-compilation). Also check out the NDK.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

sauge (930823) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025254)

I'll admit I am inclined towards C++ on these, but one has to admit given the variety of devices out there and potentially the variety of hardware that it could run on, having an abstraction layer like the VM does have it's benefits.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027412)

I'll admit I am inclined towards C++ on these, but one has to admit given the variety of devices out there and potentially the variety of hardware that it could run on, having an abstraction layer like the VM does have it's benefits.

It has its benefits within the platform scope, but not when it comes to porting across platforms.

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

shatfield (199969) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027246)

They call it Java, but technically it's not Java... it doesn't run on a JVM, and uses a custom development kit (not the JDK).

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalvik_(software) [wikipedia.org]

"Dalvik does not align to Java SE nor Java ME Class Library profiles[8][9] (e.g., Java ME classes, AWT or Swing are not supported). Instead it uses its own library[10] built on a subset of the Apache Harmony Java implementation."

Re:Any chance we'll get rid of Java? (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027536)

They call it Java, but technically it's not Java...

It's Java in the sense that the language used is Java, any Java programmer can code for Android because the language used is Java.

it doesn't run on a JVM

Using the android development kit the generated bytecode doesn't run on a JVM, but the code can by compiled to JVM bytecode because it's Java.

and uses a custom development kit (not the JDK).

It doesn't support the full JDK because it discards parts of the Java class library - that aren't really relevant or suitable for Android - and uses it's own.

Down to the VM it's all Java, it's just that for Android you generate Dalvik bytecode instead of Java bytecode, which doesn't make any difference for the developer.

Better Link (5, Informative)

DoomHamster (1918204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024590)

Re:Better Link (1)

DoomHamster (1918204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025012)

From the link:

Activity fragments, for greater control of content and design flexibility

Starting with Android 3.0, developers can break the Activities of their applications into subcomponents called Fragments, then combine them in a variety of ways to create a richer, more interactive experience. For example, an application can use a set of Fragments to create a true multipane UI, with the user being able to interact with each pane independently. Fragments can be added, removed, replaced, and animated inside an Activity dynamically, and they are modular and reusable across multiple Activities. Because they are modular, Fragments also offer an efficient way for developers to write applications that can run properly on both larger screen as well as smaller screen devices.

Great! Even more fragmentation! :)

From iOS developer POV (2)

EMB Numbers (934125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024608)

The enhancements including new/improved GUI controls and built-in animation support will make re-hosting features from iOS easier. There seems to be some confusion (possibly only in my mind) or overlap between Views, Widgets, Fragments, and Drawables as well as between Canvas and Paint. The whole framework seems disorganized or lacking consistent application of patterns, but I admit that I may just not see the forest for the trees.

Re:From iOS developer POV (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024846)

I develop for both, and kind of have to agree with you on the confusion. Hopefully they're closer to resolving this in 3.0.

Re:From iOS developer POV (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35025474)

There is a lack of consistency in the Android SDK design. Different parts don't agree on the best way to do things. Knowing one part of the Android SDK doesn't necessarily give you any clues about how another part works. I don't see strong guiding design patterns. The overall effect is chaotic but still sufficient.

Views and widget layouts are a convoluted mess - really horrible. The SDK makes frequently recurring developer tasks like adjusting layout for a different screen size feel like a trip to the dentist.

Re:From iOS developer POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35024980)

The classes you name aren't all that confusing to me. I've written a couple apps, once of which has sold quite well. Here's how the things you named interact:

View: The base class for anything that is on the screen. This includes widgets (see below) and layouts (which are often invisible, but arrange the views inside them).
Widget: A view that isn't a layout. Buttons, labels, sliders, etc. Something that is visible on the screen, and that often you can interact with.
Drawable: Something that can be painted over an area of the screen. A drawable can be an image, a color, etc.; widgets often use drawables to draw themselves.

Canvas: A class that you send the draw commands to. Whenever you are going to draw onto a bitmap or onto the screen, first you get a canvas for that object, then you send your draw commands to the canvas.
Paint: A class that holds drawing options (current color, antialiasing on/off, etc.).

Fragment: OK I haven't used these yet so I won't say what they are.

Thanks. (1)

EMB Numbers (934125) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025202)

Thanks. I have read much the same in the documentation. I suspect I just have to gain experience with the framework to get a feeling for which class to use when. For example, I don't see any reason why I can't draw in any old View rather than using a Widget, and Drawables don't seem to need Views at all; is that correct? I can have a Canvas and a Paint for a Drawable and see it on screen without a View?

I guess I'll just have to learn the intended roles of the classes. That is the nature of learning any framework and not necessarily better or worse with Android - just different.

Re:Thanks. (3, Interesting)

wmshub (25291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025318)

(Note: I'm the person who posted the first response too, but I wasn't logged in then so it came out as from anonymount).

If you want to do some custom drawing, then sure, you can start with a View and extend it to make your own Widget.

You can draw without a View, but only on bitmaps. Canvases from the screen come from Views. If you have a Drawable and you want it to appear on the screen, then the easiest way is to create any view you want and just make the background be that Drawable. This can all be done in XML in your layout resource file and it doesn't take a single line of Java code. It's very easy once you're used to it.

When I started out my biggest confusion was Activities, Apps, and Tasks. Those really mixed me up. But once I got used to them I found them very nice, it makes it easy to build modular apps that work together smoothly.

Re:From iOS developer POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35025952)

Fragments are just sub-activities. They can then be combined in a variety of ways to form an activity. Also, the same Fragment can be used in multiple Activities.

Re:From iOS developer POV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35025762)

On iOS are you also confused by the overlap between CALayer and UIView? Any framework/tool you haven't spend a lot of time working with seems odd when your changing to it from something else. Moving to eclipse from project builder took a lot of adjustment but after a couple of years, when I switch back to project builder I missed a lot of eclipse features (the latest version of project builder has a lot of the eclipse features I missed). Some of the difference are wrong, some are just different choices. Wether pen color is part of the drawing context or an attribute of the drawing operation isn't disorganization or lack of consistency.

I haven't played around with honeycomb yet, but I will agree that at first glance fragments seem very odd since I though breaking an app up was what activities did.

Re:From iOS developer POV (2)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026958)

What's the confusion or the overlap? Views are the most basic UI elements, Widgets are builtin UI controls, Fragments are collections of views/widgets, Drawables are objects that you can draw on a Canvas. Canvas vs Paint? How is that confusing? Does it confuse you when a painter uses a canvas and paint?

And for phones? (2)

AC-x (735297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024820)

They're making a big deal about the new tablet features, but what does it add for phones? Will it even be released to phones? They don't even mention phones in their promo video. I hope they haven't forgotten about us...

Re:And for phones? (2)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024890)

3.0 is basically 2.3 for tablets. 3.0 is tablet optimized, where 2.3 is phone optimized.

Re:And for phones? (2)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025034)

Well it will be compatible with existing apps, and 2.3 already lay the groundwork for providing apps that work on both phones and tablets (by including ui elements for both via the *dpi and screen size groups).

Re:And for phones? (3, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025086)

Honeycomb is for Tablets only. Ice cream will be the next phone OS.

Re:And for phones? (1)

BlueWaterBaboonFarm (1610709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026750)

Is that conjecture well sourced now? I've heard that before but I thought it was speculation.

Wouldn't it be weird if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35024822)

...like the iOS SDK only being able to be used on the MacOS, the Android SDK was only available on Debian Linux or something?

Re:Wouldn't it be weird if... (1)

joh (27088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025744)

Since Google is the new Microsoft, it would be available only on Windows. Android may be based on Linux but this is a mere technicality.

Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024840)

In every application, users have access to contextual options, navigation, widgets, or other types of content in an Action Bar, displayed at the top of the screen.

Isn't this just a menu bar then? It seems like an odd idea for a tablet, basically it seems overly desktop like. Also unlike a desktop, the top of the screen may not be a fast place to house controls because on a touchscreen it's the furthest from where your hands naturally sit (at the bottom holding the device). In fact I'd say they got the Action Bar and the System Bar positions exactly reversed from how they should be...

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024968)

I agree with you, however I do suspect that, with most tablets, one hand is used to hold the device and the other is used to operate it. It seems to me that most every interaction should be one hand based for tablets. Its not clear to me where the easiest to hit area is on a tablet.

Phones on the other hand are often operated with the thumb of the hand that is holding the device, so in that case the bottom of the screen is pretty clearly a good place for frequently used operations.

Still farther (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025510)

I agree with you, however I do suspect that, with most tablets, one hand is used to hold the device and the other is used to operate it.

And I agree with that but even then, the top of the screen is still further from a resting hand than the bottom... when not in use the non-holding hand will not generally be resting in the middle of the screen or it would obscure content, it'll be sitting somewhere near the bottom or at the users's side. Even scrolling a list would end with your hand at the bottom of a screen.

Phones on the other hand are often operated with the thumb of the hand that is holding the device, so in that case the bottom of the screen is pretty clearly a good place for frequently used operations.

Even with tablets the holding thumb is still a very usable controller, and should not be ignored by tablet makers as a mere gripper.

Re:Still farther (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026470)

My guess is because of the keyboard location at the bottom, it would be better to keep a bar that's always on the screen at the top. This way it's always visible and you don't accidentally hit things on the bar with your finger or hand

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025224)

In every application, users have access to contextual options, navigation, widgets, or other types of content in an Action Bar, displayed at the top of the screen.

Isn't this just a menu bar then? It seems like an odd idea for a tablet, basically it seems overly desktop like.

The 'Action Bar' isn't static, it's is customizable by the application so there is a standard place for all application controls.

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025420)

The 'Action Bar' isn't static, it's is customizable by the application

In what way is that not a menu bar as on a desktop. It's the very definition of a menu bar...

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025708)

The 'Action Bar' isn't static, it's is customizable by the application

In what way is that not a menu bar as on a desktop. It's the very definition of a menu bar...

It's meant to be context sensitive within the application, as opposed to a menu bar which is generally static per application. It is very menu-bar like but unlike iOS it gives the application a standard place to put controls when - and if - it needs to display them.

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

satellite17 (816105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025954)

The 'Action Bar' isn't static, it's is customizable by the application

In what way is that not a menu bar as on a desktop. It's the very definition of a menu bar...

It's meant to be context sensitive within the application, as opposed to a menu bar which is generally static per application. It is very menu-bar like but unlike iOS it gives the application a standard place to put controls when - and if - it needs to display them.

So more like some kind of "Ribbon" then?

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026184)

I guess, but without retaining whatever else is there. So where ribbon changes tabs based on the application context the Action Bar would replace the items not relevant in the current context.

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

satellite17 (816105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026310)

That's interesting, so Ribbon meets MacOs (not iOS) menu bar?

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026658)

Yeah that seems a pretty good way to describe it. Personally i like the idea, im not sure what the OP found to be 'dangerous' about it.

Re:Action Bar seems dangerously close to desktop.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35027956)

DANGER DANGER! ...actually that sounds a little sensationalist...what's 'dangerous' about a menu bar?

This is where Nokia missed the boat (5, Interesting)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024884)

I used to be the biggest supporter of Nokia's Maemo/MeeGo OS. Except for the N770, I owned every single Maemo device they released (N800, N810, N900) and I loved them. They were true pocket computers running full, unlocked versions of Debian.

I still own the N900, which at the time it came out, was miles ahead of anything else available on the market in terms of features, customization, and hardware. It was amazing to have full desktop (not mobile) skype connectivity built into the phone. Just connect to wifi or 3G and make calls to any other Skype computer or N900. Full (not web) browsing enabled by default. Flash 9 preinstalled. But it is almost a year and a half later, and in the meantime Nokia has not released any new Maemo/MeeGo hardware, and only 1 major update to the N900 firmware. Even that update only fixed minor bugs and added the QT libraries.

In the meantime, Android went through at least 3 major revisions, and there are a multitude of devices to fit any need and budget. And now it matches pretty much all the features that made the N900 special. The worst part? Nokia hasn't even announced ANY MeeGo devices, let alone released them. They may still do it, but I think it's too little too late.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025156)

Honestly, the best thing Nokia could do would be to start putting out Android devices. I know they hate that idea, having poured so much into Qt, S60 and such but it's just the situation they are in. If they don't do it then they're going down in flames like all those other old businesses that couldn't keep up when the market went against them. The iPhone and Android markets are growing by leaps and bounds with thousands of new developers pouring in like crazy.

Nokia puts together superior hardware but they're not going to last unless they realize they have lost the OS/software war.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

spuddux (999324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025316)

The same goes for Windows mobile. Until competitors truly have something worth switching over, they will never gain market share. Being just as good isn't enough. It won't attract people to switch and it won't attract developers to switch. I would argue the only reason android is as popular as it is today, is because people wanted something AS GOOD as the iphone, but weren't willing to switch carriers. I bet Apple is really kicking themselves over the exclusive contract they signed with ATT.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

losinggeneration (797436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025368)

I bet Apple is really kicking themselves over the exclusive contract they signed with ATT.

I thought at the time, AT&T was the only one willing to take the iPhone, with all other carriers turning them away. In any case, they still made a killing off the iPhones.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025956)

I would argue the only reason android is as popular as it is today, is because people wanted something AS GOOD as the iphone, but weren't willing to switch carriers

Doesn't it bother you to have an US-centric view of the world?

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

angus77 (1520151) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026168)

Indeed. In Japan, the iPhone and HTC Desire are both carried by the same carrier---Softbank.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026826)

In Australia pretty much all carriers have the same phones, including the iPhone and Android devices.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026518)

Or something better in the aspect you weren't locked into only installing what Apple said was ok, as well as having the multitasking capabilities that the WinMobile phones had supported for a while

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025482)

Honestly, the best thing Nokia could do would be to start putting out Android devices. I know they hate that idea, having poured so much into Qt, S60 and such but it's just the situation they are in. If they don't do it then they're going down in flames like all those other old businesses that couldn't keep up when the market went against them. The iPhone and Android markets are growing by leaps and bounds with thousands of new developers pouring in like crazy.

Nokia puts together superior hardware but they're not going to last unless they realize they have lost the OS/software war.

I completely forgot to mention Symbian, even though I used it on my E71. From I remember, it worked very well for devices without touchscreens, but it felt dated and some of the interface and navigation choices were just silly. One in particular was that sometimes closing an application would actually minimize it. A few hours later you'd wonder why the battery drained completely. Checking the task manager would show a whole bunch of applications happily churning in the background.

Nokia went on to invest a lot of money and resources into Symbian, but even their latest version is AWFUL when compared to Maemo, Android or iOS. I think Symbian is the reason Nokia is in so much trouble right now. They chose to keep developing that clunker of an OS along with Maemo/MeeGo, unwilling to break free from the few legacy applications available for it. Obviously applications are important, but both Apple and Google proved that within a couple of years, with enough developers, you can have hundreds of thousands of them.

Nokia should have stopped all development of Symbian, and should have invested all their resources behind Maemo/MeeGo.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025286)

Adding the Qt libraries to Maemo is pretty huge, though.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (4, Insightful)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025320)

But it is almost a year and a half later, and in the meantime Nokia has not released any new Maemo/MeeGo hardware, and only 1 major update to the N900 firmware. Even that update only fixed minor bugs and added the QT libraries.

I think they tried to get the community to shoulder too much responsibility for the OS - it's great that it's open source, but there isn't much open source that succeeds without corporate backing and for a predominantly consumer device that corporate backing has to come from the manufacturer. It would be nice to see meego flourish, and it certainly could given Nokia's market share, but consumers have been consistently disappointed by Nokia's high-end offerings, sure the N95 and N900 are great but the N93, N96 and N97 were all pretty awful IMO. Hopefully Intel and Nokia devote their full attention to Meego, if they don't then i see it ending up like Maemo.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

Bart Coppens (522625) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025484)

I don't know if the community actually has/had the opportunity to do all the required changes to the N900 even if they wanted to. For example, until PR1.2 which came out in Spring 2010, I couldn't even reload the credit on my phone's SIM because the N900's phone application (or modem stack) didn't bother to implement the required USSD support. The only thing the community *could* do was what it did: release a crappy homescreen applet that might or might not work. (I just swapped my SIM card into my old 20€ cellphone for which the N900 was a replacement...) Couldn't actually change the phone/modem software, because there's no source for it to edit. At least that's how I understood it, and which I found to be quite pathetic. (Which I think is such a shame, it could've been such a nice platform, and it mostly, but not quite, is too)

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025740)

I don't know if the community actually has/had the opportunity to do all the required changes to the N900 even if they wanted to.

You're right, they couldn't do everything, but most of OS' bugs could potentially be fixed by the community.

Couldn't actually change the phone/modem software, because there's no source for it to edit. At least that's how I understood it, and which I found to be quite pathetic.

The OS is open source, but not all the drivers can be, same with Android, and with any proprietary devices on linux systems.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026376)

Not all of it. A fair number of bits were still closed source, and this irritated a lot of the user base.

MeeGo corrects pretty much all of that, as well as pushing to and pulling from upstream projects heavily. It is, to a great degree, what Maemo should have been.

It's too bad Google couldn't have pushed for that ages go, instead of reinventing the wheel.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026522)

Not all of it. A fair number of bits were still closed source, and this irritated a lot of the user base.

I can't really think of anything off the top of my head that was closed source apart from non-OS components (like the Media Player UI framework, device drivers, mapping framework, etc...).

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027404)

MCE, which has long been a bone of contention. dsme was closed until they moved all the juicy bits out into MCE.

There's a listing of all the infrastructure bits that are closed:

http://wiki.maemo.org/Open_development/Why_the_closed_packages [maemo.org]

None of this is an issue in MeeGo aside from BME (annoyingly) and the 3D drivers.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (4, Informative)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026480)

Actually, it wasn't open-source enough. Many of the nasty bugs in the platform related to closed-source components. For example, I wanted to be able to simultaneously run a VoIP call and use the camera. But the camera "helpfully" wouldn't run during a call, because it needed the sound card to make the "click" noise. I tried to fix it, but was told that the camera app was closed source. There was an open-source camera library component...but only if I didn't want auto-focus! Another N900 killer was video-calling. Almost there, but pulse-audio was hogging 30% CPU doing (un-needed) sample-rate conversion - and we couldn't remove it.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

trawg (308495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027306)

I think Nokia got into this weird habit of just building a whole bunch of handsets and spraying them out randomly hoping that there'll be someone out there that the design appeals to. I think that strategy worked well for them back in the pre-smartphone days when physical design and feature sets was more important than now, where it's all about software, but I think it's totally biting them in the ass now - they're still churning out different units and just losing ground left right and centre because their software is suffering.

I have an N900 but I abandoned it pretty soon after I got an Android. I keep the N900 around because holy shit it's handy having a full Linux box that I can carry around in my pocket, but in terms of general usability as a phone/portable email/social/browser device it is simply smashed by Android in just about every respect.

I was thoroughly disappointed when they announced Meego - not because I thought it was a bad idea, but because it was instantly apparent that - after all the touting of Maemo and its virtues, it was going to get dropped by the side of the road. It was especially vexing for us here in Australia because the N900 took sooooo much longer to come out - so it seemed the platform was dead shortly after it was released here.

I still like to think Nokia have a lot of potential though - there's so much awesomeness in some of the things they do.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027436)

The problem with the N900 is not that there is a lack of open-source development but that too many critical pieces of the phone software were not open-sourced by Nokia.

MeeGo gets better, the only closed source components on that platform are:
Broadcomm Bluetooth chip firmware (closed source due to FCC regulations regarding bluetooth hardware)
userspace GPU drivers (closed source because PowerVR wont share its "valuable IP")
TI wireless chip firmware and certain user-space code related to it (closed source due to FCC regulations regarding WiFi hardware)
A few audio algorithms (likely closed source because they contain 3rd party code or they contain secret algorithms Nokia doesn't want to disclose)
GPS libraries and daemon (closed source because of the proprietary algorithms that talk to the TI GPS chip)
Library that talks to the special calibration data on the phone (closed source because messing with this data can seriously screw things up)
Battery Management Entity module (closed source because if you send the wrong thing to the battery related hardware, its possible to damage the handset or battery)
Cell modem firmware (closed source due to FCC regulations regarding GSM/UMTS hardware)

Other important things like the telephony stack and internet connectivity stuff are now open source in MeeGo (telephony stack in MeeGo is based on ofono with special code for the N900 and its cellular modem)

The downside is that MeeGo support on the N900 is a community effort only and is unlikely to be a viable replacement for Maemo Fremantle anytime soon and that all the MeeGo work means no further work (including opening of closed source packages to benefit the community) is likely to happen for Maemo Fremantle.

Re:This is where Nokia missed the boat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35025364)

Android doesn't have the features that made the NIT's special. Android is J2ME on steroids, nothing more.

Which are? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025568)

Name an NIT feature Android doesn't offer at this point.

Android is far better for development than J2ME, I know as I used to do a little J2ME development - enough to know it was a lot of work to support most devices. Android makes most things much simpler and has a much broader set of frameworks.

Hmm... (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35024944)

With a tablet android version, they might finally have gotten me into android app development. I'm not sure exactly how this works, would I have to learn and use java or could I just use any language?

Re:Hmm... (2)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025250)

There are some ways to use other languages - the Mono project is pretty far along with getting C# working for Android, and you can write native C++ apps with the NDK (native development kit), but google strongly suggests not using the NDK just because you'd rather program in C++, as it is much easier to write bad programs in C++ than it is in Java (they suggest using the NDK when you're doing computationally intensive stuff like 3D games, or you have some game engine already written in C++).

For the most part, yeah, you just need to learn Java. But from what I've seen, its not really that bad. I've never more than toyed with Android development, but none of it looks very tough.
-Taylor

Re:Hmm... (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026092)

Not only that but google seem to have some bizarre ideas about C++. No exceptions, no STL, no RTTI. Apparently for reasons of "bloat", because the STL is ungodly huge compared to the java libraries supplied...

But that does make it much harder to write C++. No exceptions == no RAII.

Aparently they were thinking of changing this, however.

Re:Hmm... (2)

zuperduperman (1206922) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025548)

Don't be scared of learning Java on Android. It is the most pleasant experience I've ever had with Java. Basically, Google threw out all the onerous libraries and instead you're talking to the Android framework which is far simpler and easier to work with. A lot of the Java fear and loathing that you read about is based on the ridiculous stack of libraries and bloat that accompanies Java web stacks. Android has none of that.

Re:Hmm... (3, Informative)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025600)

With a tablet android version, they might finally have gotten me into android app development. I'm not sure exactly how this works, would I have to learn and use java or could I just use any language?

If you have an existing C/C++ codebase it is possible to hive parts of it off as a library (.so) and load it into your java code via JNI, but for the most part your user interface has to be written in Java and compiled into Dalvik bytecode.

As of Android 2.3 it is apparently possible to write the entire program in C/C++, using a special option in the manifest file and an Android-specific entrypoint. 2.3 also adds event hooks to help with getting input, but AFAIK there is still no way to get at the user interface. You can, however, do OpenGL (probably OpenGL SE, but not sure) and roll your own, but that's generally most useful for games and things rather than, say, a text editor (which Android could use a few more of).

There are a few gotchas when using the Native Development Kit - it's got most of POSIX but not everything. pthreads is a little iffy in places and it doesn't support unicode properly (Android doesn't use Unicode, it does something else).
For example, passing a unicode string between C and C++ modules will cause a bus error, because unicode is 32 bits in C++, and 8 bits in C which caused a lot of head-scratching at first.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Lanteran (1883836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027386)

well I suppose I was going to have to learn java eventually... If android does have a lack of decent text editors (assuming it hasn't been done) I could always work on porting vim/nano/emacs or something. Doubt it would work well though without a significantly reworked interface or a full 108-key keyboard.

Offtopic (2)

jiteo (964572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025152)

That's cool and everything, but can we get the *current* Android version for our Nexus Ones please?

Re:Offtopic (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025480)

No problem. Go get CyanogenMod 7.

Still ARM only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35025174)

With MIPS trying to move in on smart phones and tablets, I'm surprised MIPS tools/emulators aren't part of the official SDK yet.

I wonder if things will change once the new phones start being sold...?

Backwards Compatibility (1)

DoomHamster (1918204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025222)

This is the best bit from http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-3.0-highlights.html [android.com] :

"Compatibility with existing apps

Android 3.0 brings a new UI designed for tablets and other larger screen devices, but it also is fully compatible with applications developed for earlier versions of the platform, or for smaller screen sizes. Existing applications can seamlessly participate in the new holographic UI theme without code changes, by adding a single attribute in their manifest files. The platform emulates the Menu key, which is replaced by the overflow menu in the Action Bar in the new UI. Developers wanting to take fuller advantage of larger screen sizes can also create dedicated layouts and assets for larger screens and add them to their existing applications."

Looks like this should run on existing platforms without too much tweaking by custom ROM builders/manufacturers.

Re:Backwards Compatibility (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025794)

...Looks like this should run on existing platforms without too much tweaking by custom ROM builders/manufacturers.

Not sure why you say that. A new platform supports old apps (as has always been the case with Android), but that doesn't have anything to do with old hardware supporting the new platform.

Besides, most existing platforms are phones, and Honeycomb really isn't set up to run on a phone. I'm *sure* it would *run*, and I know enterprising hackers will do it for fun, but I can's imagine it being usable.

That said, there are some existing tablets, and they will seriously benefit from Honeycomb, so I'm sure devs will port it over.

Just don't think there will be lots of Honeycomb ports to phones. It doesn't look like that will be too useful.
-Taylor

Cisco VPN Support? (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025566)

Google, this is the enterprise feature [google.com] your users really want.

Joy. I see it still has no owner.

I wonder.... (0)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025648)

If they'll ever add support for FairPlay so I don't have to spend close to a hundred hours un-DRMing my audiobooks.

Death ray at Google! (4, Funny)

Dayofswords (1548243) | more than 3 years ago | (#35025908)

From the video [youtube.com]
at 0:19

Attila Bodis 12/21/2010
CONFIDENTIAL: Death ray hardware rev 2.0
- Hi Mike, Please don't share; this is just a [cut off]

Yay they can copy again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35026002)

Google turn on your photocopiers! Google is todays Microsoft they copy just as well if not better than Microsoft ever did!

Just remember developers for Android OS.....apk and apk installer. Free paid software for all!!

Available to the privileged few. (3, Insightful)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026224)

Google did a bang up job kneecapping open source efforts in the mobile space, convincing the community to chase after an environment that discarded pretty much every existing open source tool in the name of NIH and withholds new versions from the community until their partners are done getting their releases out with it.

Then they sit back and have the nerve to tell us that Android is "open" while users are forced to jailbreak and deal with vendors [motorola.com] that try [samsung.com] to cripple devices so they can leverage later versions as a selling point for the next carrier contract.

I hope that MeeGo takes off with non-asshole hardware vendors, if not the we might as well right off the mobile computing space as being property of Microsoft, Apple, and Google.

Re:Available to the privileged few. (4, Insightful)

linuxguy (98493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35026772)

Before Google "open" mobile platforms were a bad joke. I wanted them to succeed. But no hardware manufacturer or carrier took them seriously. Some companies like Motorola did build very bad phones based on Linux but they were very closed devices. Google comes along and gives you a platform that is completely open, gives it away for free. Do whatever the hell you want to do with it. Many vendors like Motorola take the bits and build phones around it. Most of these phones are locked. But you can hardly fault Google for it.

If somebody builds a device with Linux that you do not like, do you blame Linus Torvalds for it?

When I was in the market for a new phone a a month or so ago, I narrowed down my choices to:

iphone/iOS
Blackberry
Windows Phone 7
Android

Tell me, which one is the most open platform of them all? For me, I decided to go with Samsung Epic and have not regretted that decision for a minute. It is easy to root the phone and install whatever the hell I want on it, including my own damn Linux kernel.

I am thankful that Google is here. I have a crop of very capable devices running Linux to choose from. Without Google, these options would not be available to us. Give credit where credit is due.

Re:Available to the privileged few. (2)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027344)

Make no mistake, Android is better than the other, closed alternatives. I'm just annoyed that Google came out trumpeting how open they were, yet they expressed NIH syndrome to a ridiculous extent and reimplemented the wheel almost completely.

Google comes along and gives you a platform that is completely open, gives it away for free. Do whatever the hell you want to do with it.

The end result is a nasty OS you have to root, that isn't compatible with anything else in the Linux world without a ton of hacking, code spread everywhere that doesn't go upstream (and except for the kernel, has no real upstream last I checked.)

I would give Google more credit if they had leveraged the efforts that were already under way even if it meant totally ignoring things like OpenMoko, rather how MeeGo is banking on the upstream heavily. But deliberately ignoring all the work that was out there for what appears solely to have been to retain exclusive control over the platform (to no great effect) and holding releases for major hardware vendors instead of being fully open about it just disappoints me with how they trumped up their release back in 2008.

So again, unless things change the mobile space goes where Microsoft, Apple, and Google decide.

Re:Available to the privileged few. (1)

shellbeach (610559) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027714)

Then they sit back and have the nerve to tell us that Android is "open" while users are forced to jailbreak and deal with vendors [motorola.com] that try [samsung.com] to cripple devices so they can leverage later versions as a selling point for the next carrier contract.

Not quite forced. [blogspot.com] Agreed that this ability to gain root access should be mandatory across the platform, but at least Google is doing the right thing in this case, and publicly defending it too.

moving to fast (2, Insightful)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35027026)

I think android is moving to fast. In the last year we saw 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and now 3.0. I think they need to scale back to annual releases because phone makers don't or can't keep up and then people end up upset because they are not on the latest version of the OS. Also not everyone wants to root their phone and install some cyanogenmod version or other hacked version. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with people doing that, but the average phone user wants to buy a phone that will not be out of date in 6 months. I also realize that not all android phones suffer this, but there are many that came out with 1.x last year and still have not been upgraded to 2.x and many wont see 2.3. When apps stop coding to the 1.5 version and 1.6 version as many are doing that makes a phone that is less than a year old outdated and then upsets customers. If you are on a 2 year contract then you screwed after 6 months, you will probably not be doing an android phone again and now that iphones will run on verizon this could be trouble for android.

Re:moving to fast (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35028444)

That's just the cost of innovation. Things are moving fast because there is a lot of fast moving that needs to be done to adapt to the changing market or just make things better. Deal with it. Once the the smartphone/portable_mobile_communications_computing_device space has stabilized, so will Android (and then you'll be bored with it and go chasing after the next shiny thing). Until then, don't be disturbed if "release early, release often" happens - that's how open source is done.

Re:moving to fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35028540)

Phone makers could keep up, they choose not too so that Johnny Rheetard will buy another piece of hardware from them because his feelings were hurt that his phone doesn't have the third camera or flatulence simulation app 5.0... Lets slow down the pace of improvement so we don't make Johnny feel bad. It's moving too fast, my damn VHS tapes won't even fit in my blueray player!

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