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Google Android is here!

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Google and T-Mobile have this week announced the launch of the G1, the first Android based phone. Technical review has a review of the G1 in comparison with the iPhone, it’s most famous, if not closest competitor.

It is interesting to contrast the two styles at work here. Apple undoubtedly makes pretty products, not always cutting edge technology, but pretty to look at with the flashy icons and the nifty animations schemes like having some fireworks whenever a window is closed etc. What I absolutely abhor about Apple is how it tries to force it’s own choices on it’s customers. Apple knows best and so will choose the one single network carrier with whom customers can use the iPhone. Apple also knows best and therefore all apps which people write for the iPhone need to get an approval from Apple to even think of being on the iPhone. In fact, Apple and the iPhone are pretty much the same as Microsoft and Windows, except that Microsoft gets booed everywhere it goes and Apple has people queuing outside their stores at 4 am on cold mornings to get their hands on the “first” iPhone. That is a marketing coup that is, but to me it still reeks of a domineering, “I know better than you” attitude.

Google’s approach is much simpler and is one which has given great results in a wide variety of situations, not just technology. The idea is simple, Google’s job begins and ends with providing a robust and open operating system(OS) along with tools and documentation that enables third party developers to make use of it. Not an inch more and not an inch less. There are two major advantages to this method. Firstly, Google can focus on maintaining a high quality OS, app developers can focus on high quality apps and handset makers can focus on high quality handsets. Everyone specialises and where required work together to build a fantastic product. Secondly, being an open source OS, third party app developers and handset manufacturers can tweak the system as they like. The tweaking may result in a direct improvement to Google’s Android, or it may result is a different “distribution” based on Android (as has happened to the various Linux distros) or a tweak may just be used in specific phones. Either way, the structure sets up a vibrant community, with the freedom to do almost anything and which in some way will benefit the original OS, either through technical development or through an extended reach. Google’s decision to stay away from the Android apps market would also put the user community, and not the parent company, at the centre of deciding which apps are worthwhile and which are not, which is how it should be. To be convinced that such an approach really works, one simply has to look at examples such as the internet, Linux, Project Gutenberg and MIT open courseware. Providing a strong platform on which individual creativity can thrive has always had and will always have a pretty darn good chance of succeeding.

Such an unregulated structure could cause problems for security/stability etc, but those will soon be removed because most of the operating system is open source and quite possibly some of the apps will be too. If there does not exist a suitable app for a certain purpose, it will get written. If an existing app causes a stability problem or has a security threat, it will be replaced by one that does not. Alternatively, if the instability was a fault with Android, the app writer can debug the Android code and submit a patch that will improve the OS. The reason he would do so is simply because he wants his app to sell and if he is convinced of his application design/implementation, he will be prepared to take the plunge and debug the OS. The net result will be that the OS gets stronger, the apps multiply and compete till the best remain and the handset manufacturers and networks will be able to pick and choose the apps they like, maybe even customising the OS for their own specifc phones.

Unfortunately, a good product is not a guarantee for success, so we cannot be sure if Android will be a success. I am also not highly infatuated with mobile connectivity and I am not a big user of mobile phones. But if I have to choose between the iPhone or an Android based phone, I will take the Android one and Apple can keep its domineering attitude to itself.

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Written by clueso

September 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. I shud have read this before buying the touch. šŸ™‚
    As always – the perfect argument.

    Avanti

    October 20, 2008 at 5:02 pm

  2. By “Touch” do you mean the HTC Touch or some other device? Whatever it is I am keen on hearing your review of it šŸ™‚

    clueso

    October 22, 2008 at 1:03 pm


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