Google did something pretty brilliant last month, and created a visual programing environment for Android devices. Google App Inventor is a combination web application for app layout, and java application for building programming logic with java blocks. If you are familiar with etoys at all, it is very similar.
For those that are already developers, this approach to developing is going to be tedious. We are not the target audience. This is really designed to open up the world of mobile development to a much wider set of people, especially as an introductory computer science course.
Oracle was the opening keynote for Linuxcon this year, where they talked about how much they did for Linux and open source. The moment everyone had checked out of their hotel in Boston, they filed a massive patent suit against Google’s open source java like implementation in Android. Oracle, you can suck it.
This has led to a lot of virtual ink in the blogosphere on the subject, and you can see that for the most part, we all sit inside our tech valleys, unable to see the wider world over the hills. This is especially true for folks that have worked in the same kind of tech for a long time. Charles Nutter provides a really good background on what the Java space looks like, and gives his own thoughts on the matter. Much like Linux, Java is really just about everywhere, some times in surprising places.
The Java platform is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. And by big, I mean it’s everywhere.
There are three mainstream JVMs people know about: JRockit (WebLogic’s first and then Oracle’s after it acquired them), Hotspot (Which came to Sun through an acquisition and eventually became OpenJDK), and J9 (IBM’s own JVM, fully-licensed and with all its shots). Upon those three JVMs lives a gigantic world. If you want the details, there’s numerous studies and reports about the use of Java in all manner of business, from the hippest new startups (Twitter recently switched much of their stack to the JVM) to the oldest of the old financial concerns. It’s the favored choice for government server applications, the strongest not-quite-completely-Free managed runtime for open-source libraries and applications, and now with Android it’s rapidly becoming one of the strongest (if not the strongest) mobile OS platform (even though Android isn’t *really* Java, as I’ll get into later). You may love or hate Java, but I guarantee it’s part of your life in some way or another.
It’s a long read, but well worth your time. The why people hate Java section is particularly useful for people that hate Java. It may or may not change your mind, but it will at least give you a broader view.
There is one main reason people in the open source community get so violent over Mono (the open source .NET implementation): the fear that Microsoft could shut everything. There is long standing fear that MS has patents on core parts of the system. People were afraid their investments in software written on top of it would be at risk. Java was always held up as the much safer choice, with a longer legacy, being more open source friendly, with a company behind it that everyone trusted. Of course, companies change hands some times….
Oracle sues Google for patent, copyright infringement
Oracle filed a complaint in federal court in California, alleging the infringement of seven patents and copyrights by Google’s Android mobile operating system software.
I was once told that Sun actually made money off Java, and one of the big sources of revenue was the J2ME market, which is what all those dumb little snake games are written in. Google has undercut that by making a really popular cell phone platform with a version of Java they wrote themselves.
It’s still not a good world to be in, where innovation comes with a 10% patent tax.
At a press briefing here at its headquarters, Google announced a new version of its Apps suite designed specifically for government customers. This tier will be sold alongside the existing version of Google Apps and priced the same as the company’s premiere license–$50 per user, per year.
Google Apps for Government features all the same applications that can be found in other versions but comes with a higher level of security, which Google says meets the requirements set forth by the Federal Information Security Management Act. This includes segregated data centers, which Google says goes beyond FISMA regulations, and will keep government e-mail and calendar event data within U.S. borders.
This is probably the biggest tech story of the day. A lot of FUD around cloud will be dismissed if we see large government sign off on it.
On some feed I came across: How to get rejected from the App Store, and as I read through it I became more and more glad that I’ve got an Android phone. Some of the top things that I do with my phone are explicitly prohibited by Apple. Streaming internet radio, directly syncing podcasts to the phone, having widgets on your desktop, improving on the phone built ins (in this case calendar display), all of these things are prevented on the iPhone.
Yes, the iPhone has a more consistent UI. It’s easy to be consistent if you limit your functionality, and require that everyone that owns your device runs your client software on a desktop in your house as well. Android phones don’t ever assume that. An Android phone is more than a smart phone, it’s a cloud access point. If you have to use a cable to put data (contacts, music, whatever) on your device that has always on wireless networking… you have failed.
I’m glad that Apple opened up this market for more vendors to play in, but I’m seriously glad that Google is relentlessly pushing it forward. The post PC era is really about whether or not you need a PC to use your other devices. As far as I’m concerned, the answer should be no.
One of the things that most excited me out the Google I/O event a couple weeks back was Google TV. It’s a set top box that brings a lot of web content to the TV. But what really excites me about it is that it’s an Android platform, that will have access to the market place. Having this announce come out a couple days after I pushed my first Android app out got me even more excited about the platform.
In my house I’ve got the following devices: a thermostat that’s attached to my home network, with a web interface that lets me adjust the temperature and programs; a TED 5000 energy monitor which is on my home network; a set of weather station sensors that I’m collecting data from on my home server. Each of these have some web interfaces, non consolidated, to get data, and small little screens on the respective devices to go and see what’s going on. And in my living room I’ve got a 42″ TV, with brilliant color.
I want all these various home sensors and actuators to show up on my TV, and for me to be able to control them from there. I keep looking at my logitech harmony remote and really thinking that I should be able to use channel up / down to adjust the temperature in my house when we’re hanging out on the couch watching TV. Not that many months ago, intrigued by how the Netflix Instant Bluray disc worked, I started looking into the Bluray Java spec, and realized that if I had to I could probably build a disc for my PS3 that would do most of this, but it would be pretty custom, and the dev / test cycle would burn through a lot of bluray media. I tried to download the Popbox SDK to see if they’d give me what I want, but they’ve made it impossible for me to actually do that.
Google TV is going to give me a set top box in my living room that will let me get access to a wide range of content, which will be great, but also let me publish my own code to it. As a creator of software, having that application channel, even for only my own use, is just incredible. The fact that it will share a lot of characteristics with my phone makes it all the better.
I really can’t wait until Logitech gets it’s box out there, and I’ve got something to experiment with. Having my livingroom TV be the nerve center of my home is a concept that seems so natural, and I’m surprised has taken this long to bring us this kind of tech.
Google has a different view. Android isn’t summer camp for handset vendors and not everyone gets get a trophy for showing up. Google is treating partners equally, but will not slow the rate of innovation so weaker players can keep up. By constantly raising the bar, both in terms of reference devices and software, Google aims to keep innovating and drive that innovation as a differentiator. Google wasn’t looking for volume sales with the Nexus One, it was looking to raise the hardware bar — and arguably the best way to do that is to do it yourself.
Engadget has a pretty interesting piece on Android and the fragmentation fears that are out there. Some of the challenges that Windows Mobile had with lock stepping the partners is part of the reason Google isn’t waiting for everyone to catch up.
I’ve now gotten the 2.1 update for my Sprint Hero. I’m very happy for the new browser and new google maps, those were things I was longing for. I’ve installed 3 applications that needed post 1.5 APIs… I haven’t even run one of them. Everything I’m writing for Where is Io is 1.5 compatible, and it only needs that level because of the NDK code.
I’m all for Google continuing to beat the drum of innovation and put out 2 or 3 Android releases a year. Makes for great phone upgrade options come the holiday season.