Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Google proposes Wi-Fi 2.0

In another move to boost Android's prospects, Google's telecommunications counsel,Richard Whitt proposed a plan to use unused airwaves, known as white spaces, to provide high-speed mobile access to consumers by the 2009 holiday season.

Google, alongwith Microsoft and six other big tech companies formed the 'White Space Coalition' in 2006 to advocate the use of unused analog TV signals for high-speed wireless broadband. On Monday,
in a renewed effort to convince the FCC, Whitt said, “Google is a strong believer in the potential of this spectrum to bring Internet access to more Americans” and that "the spectrum is way too valuable to be wasted.” On Friday, Google had filed a six-page letter that clears out the concerns over interference of the new mobile devices with TV and microphones.

Google's new filing describes a multipronged approach to avoid interference. Building upon suggestions made in a filing by Motorola last fall, it said any new unlicensed TV white-spaces devices would be blocked from transmitting signals unless they had received a sort of "permission to transmit" message. Wireless microphones could also be outfitted with "inexpensive" beacons that would send out a signal to white-spaces devices that says " don't come here," by Whitt's description.Google also proposes to set up a safety cushion between channels 37 and 39, where unlicensed white-space devices would not be allowed to operate, but wireless microphones and other licensed devices would. To protect airwaves used by the military and public safety agencies, Google proposed the use of spectrum-sensing technology, which would free up the airwaves when they are needed by the government and
also offered to provide no-cost technical support to third parties hoping to use the white spaces, if they were opened up.

Even if the regulators ultimately approve use of the white spaces, the spectrum won't be ready for use until at least February 2009 and FCC also isn't expected to issue any rules for use of the spectrum for another several months, Whitt said. "no product will come to market unless the FCC can verify that the device does not interfere with TV or wireless microphone signals".

"We're doing this because we want everybody to be satisfied with this process" Whitt said. "We think it's the right time to put these ideas in the record and see where they go." He also added,that Google isn't interested in becoming a wireless service provider or building a network of its own, it does envision the white spaces as a "unique opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless access for all Americans" (or maybe to increase its revenue by creating more Internet services for mobile phones and devices). Portable technology is outselling personal computers, giving the company new spots to place online advertising. Only about 5 percent of the nation’s TV white spaces are being used, he said.

"That portion of the TV band is highly prized because it can propagate long distances and through obstacles. It also possesses the bandwidth to support vastly faster data rates than today's standard Internet services."

In between his speech, Whitt hinted that the Android phones would land at sometime around fall.

Its obvious that with its GPS and Maps, Android phones will be needing unlimited high-speed internet access. This proposal is one step further in that direction.

Via [NY Times] [CNET News]

Sunday, March 23, 2008

NTT DoCoMo to release Android phones by 2010

NTT DoCoMo, the Japanese mobile operator and a prominent member of OHA plans to release phones based on Android by 2010. This disclosure was made when DoCoMo declared its plan to remove advanced functions and services from its cell phones' current OS. The company decided to move over from a proprietary OS to Android to help manufacturers reduce cost.

According to the carrier, functions to be removed from operating software will include i-mode, Internet connection services, and FeliCa, an integrated circuit card service that enables handsets to be used for electronic payments. Custom-designed high-tech services like i-mode have created a niche market for themselves and also prompted competitors like KDDI to provide similar services.

However,shrinking profit margins within Japan has prompted many phone manufacturers to look outside for sales. Producing different phones for DoCoMo and rest of the world isn't financially viable in a saturated Japanese mobile market. Apparently, this has prompted Sony Ericsson and Mitsubishi to withdraw from the local mobile market.

The low-cost phones will allow manufacturers that make handsets for DoCoMo to develop and produce handsets for overseas markets. For the domestic market, the companies will add some advanced functions. With its commanding 50% market share, NTT DoCoMo's move is likely to prompt KDDI (also an OHA member) and SoftBank to follow similar path.

Via [Daily Yomiuri]

Friday, March 21, 2008

The G-Race - HTC vs Samsung

Race to the Android phone is on. HTC and Samsung are competing to get the first gPhone out in the market. While HTC's "Dream" is inching towards reality, Samsung has switched gears to catch up with HTC.

Earlier this week, rumors about HTC Omni(Dream) being THE gPhone were out in the wild. Now, we had the same news last year when CEO Peter Chou said about Dream: "We've been working on [OHA] designs for almost two years. This is the best one we've seen", and there was an inkling that T-Mobile could be a part of this "Dream" too. So why is an old news being made out so big NOW ? i don't know. In any case, we know that Android and HTC Dream are connected.

Coming to the other contender of G-Race, apparently Samsung doesn't like the idea of HTC enjoying the Android pie all through 2008, so they've stepped-up their efforts. Where HTC have their trusted Touch Flo technology, Samsung could well be using HAPTIC as their reference, 3.2-inch LCD screen (12.1 millimeters thick), supports terrestrial DMB services and has a 2-megapixel camera, take a look,

This is Samsung's first foray into widescreen touch phones to counter the threat of LG touch phones (PRADA, Viewty) in the local Korean market. Samsung is testing its products in Korea before going global with it. So it is quite possible that you could be holding a HAPTIC running Android later this year. Expect a rumor/leaks sometime next week.

Speaking of LG, Argo seems to be their choice for Android since it claims to provide full internet experience, which is the buzzword these days.

What is inside Argo you wonder ? 3-inch wide full touchscreen LCD with 800 x 480 resolution, the Touch Web phone adopts Quick Search Icon providing direct access to main portals, Internet hot key and jog wheel, has a 3 MP camera with auto focus, Bluetooth 2.0, microSD and T-DMB.

Google is enjoying every bit of this and the FCC auction results. They had open software and now, open networks without spending the billions and then theres rumor that Samsung is making phones for Google which will be branded as 'Google', something with a flip-screen and keyboard , so now, all they have to do is get the Android stack right.

Its quite obvious that the winner of this G-Race will be Google !!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ads on Android

We all saw this news coming, although, this one does not come from Google, but from Relevantis, Inc. The company has released the first advertising platform for Android which will allow developers to integrate ads into their apps.

The platform called 'Universal Ad Platform'
allows Android developers to include personalized and location-aware advertising within their apps. Relevantis specializes in supporting highly relevant advertising within embedded applications and widgets and is the first solution to deliver highly contextual advertising to mobile web sites as well as embedded applications such as mobile maps and mobile video games.It provides Android developers with access to APIs that allow for full control over the advertising presented in their products. The APIs also enable the caching of ads on Android devices. This allows applications to display advertising even when the device is out of range of a network or when it is in airplane mode.

Scott Searle,
CEO, Relevantis said, "When Google announced Android, everybody expected that it would exclusively support Google ads. However, Google's ad platform doesn't even support Android applications at all yet; and, when it does, the ads will most likely be available for Android-optimized web sites instead of embedded applications.The solution is uniquely designed to support Android widgets, games and other embedded applications as well as web sites. And, perhaps more importantly, our platform supports multiple ad networks, not just Google. So, developers can choose to receive ads from one or more major networks like Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL in addition to Google."

This ad-solution will be most beneficial to developers working on apps related to maps and navigation systems as they can sell the icon space to brands or get paid to include navigation instructions to reach a particular location like Pizza-Hut.

Via [marketwire]

Games for Android

OmniGSoft, a mobile 3D gaming company based in Toronto has entered the Android Developer Challenge with ten 3D mobile games for Android. Titled
"OmniGSoft Games on Android", the set includes 10 games out of which, currently, 5 games have been released for M3-rc37a, M5 is not yet supported.

The games use OmniGSoft's 3D game engine which includes MiniAWT- a cross-platform AWT , OmniGraphics - core of the gaming engine and OmniGroups - a real-time network communication engine.

Official word: "All games are designed and implemented on OmniGsoft's proprietary cross-platform 3D game engine that supports multiple mobile platforms such as Android, Windows Mobile and JavaME. Powered by OpenGL|ES as 3D graphics power plant and Android accelerometer as an alternative game control, these mobile games are aiming to provide the highest quality of 3D graphics and gaming experience on Android platform."

The Android screenshots look good. Theres a video of one of the games released, Super -G Stunt, running on SE
K850 here demonstrating the use of Accelerometers.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Webtide's Jetty for Android

Webtide, the main developer of leading open source HTTP server and Java web container, Jetty, announced today, at EclipseCon 2008, the first web and application server designed specifically to operate on Android. Jetty is the web and application server behind Eclipse Equinox and because of its lightweight and robust nature, it is ideal for embedding in mobile devices and platforms that require a small footprint.

The port is named i-Jetty and will allow Android users to serve data stored on the phone such as contact details, system settings and call log within a browser window. It also adds functionality that will let users modify and save changes, view and listen to multimedia files and make phone calls. The goal of these features is to let users access the information on their phones from more familiar web browsers running on their usual computers over wifi, Bluetooth and 3G networks.

Speaking about i-Jetty, Adam Lieber, CEO
, said, This represents yet another emphatic validation of Jetty's architecture and scalability. Jetty's small footprint has always been attractive to embedded device developers, and now with a Jetty server available on Android, we can truly claim to run on the gamut of computing environments all the way from mobile devices to high-end server hardware. We look forward to working with the growing Android community.

Android and Jetty have many packages in common, this alongwith the small footprint of Jetty made the porting task smooth.

i-Jetty is available at Google Code.

Via [BusinessWire]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Google's Rich Miner on Android and more

Speaking at eComm, Google's general manager of wireless platforms, Rich Miner said Android will outsell iPhone. Miner opened the second day of the eComm conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. saying that Android will be loved by developers due to its openness. He expects Android-based phones to outsell iPhone. "Once you have devices out there from Motorola , HTC, Samsung, and so on, there's a much larger potential market on Android than for the iPhone," Miner said. He spoke in detail about the current phone and market trends and how OHA and Android are trying to bring a positive change to it. Some excerpts from his speech,

On the industry and market :

He said that he has seen prototypes from every mobile phone partner of OHA. Instead of having carrier executives decide which applications are best for users, the big companies should embrace the “long tail".

He added,
"the world is shifting to openness, even in mobile phones. Linux-based phones have hit the market, Apple has created excitement around the iPhone, and there is excitement about Android platform. Those phones will be more useful to consumers, because they will be built around openness and thus have access to a wealth of third-party applications.

Speaking on the current lot of phones, he said, "Most of the phones aren’t smart, meaning that developers can’t create third-party applications for the vast majority of phones in the world. The lack of openness means that the dynamic world of mash-ups on the web just isn’t possible with phones.The phones have closed, native environments that make it very difficult for applications developers to do what they want to do,” he said. “The business models in mobile are also somewhat broken.He said Google is working with carriers to open their networks and open their phones and drive down the costs of cell phones. And as an indication of carriers' shift to openness, Verizon is about to launch its specs for open handsets. "The carriers are embracing openness for market reasons", he said. Full HTML capable web browsers will be available on these phones and display content that can be viewed easily on a small screen.

On Linux, Android and being Open :

Speaking on the fragmented Linux platforms, he said “Unless somebody really took everything, built it, and released it as open source, it wouldn’t help.We integrated all the things you need in one platform.”

He also said,"Yes, there are lots of other Linux initiatives,but the problem is that there are lots of them. The problem is that if they just focus on the Linux OS, and they leave out all the other parts of the mobile stack.So, if two companies build two phones, they make two different sets of decisions about the stack. And that means the phones are different. You can't just write for one phone and move it over. You have to write for two."

Miner said that one of the main advantages of the Linux-based Android is that it eliminates the need for developers to maintain multiple versions of apps across multiple platforms. This was an effort to prove that Android is more than just another Linux OS, "Android is a complete platform, not just a phone operating system. Android is everything you need to develop a phone, not just an OS. There are virtual machines, graphics subsystems, media codecs, media frameworks, application frameworks — all integrated into Android.”

But iPhone is already in the market. He added, "Android can make up for lost time. 750,000 have downloaded the Android SDK. Even if just one per cent of the people who downloaded the thing are building apps, that’s 7,000 to 10,000 people who are actively building applications for our platform. That's because it's open. I don’t think you’d have developers developing for a non-existent phone - a phone that hasn’t been released if they didn’t believe that this openness would allow them to get their applications distributed."

On the Open nature of Android, Miner said,"When I or most people at Google think about 'open,' we think about source code," Miner told the eComm crowd here in Mountain View. "If something is broken, you open up the source code, and you go and fix it."

When asked if Google had any problems with any developers making changes to the original stack, he said,"Once we open source this, it will be like any open source project," Miner answered. "You'll start to shift from initial implementation to a process driven by the community, starting to steer the functionality."
"Just look at how Apple manages the WebKit development progress. If a 17-year-old hacker proves he's competent in driving WebKit modifications and improvements, he's allowed to contribute to the WebKit system. Webkit is one of the model examples for Android."

On Apple & iPhone :

Although iPhone was a big success and it sold 4 million units in its first seven months of release, "there's a single manufacturer, it's targeted at a particular demographic, and it falls far short of the 1 billion mobile phones sold every year worldwide," added Miner.

Furthermore, he said,"My belief is that any startup company or company that’s trying to build a popular mobile app will build it for both platforms.They’re both contemporary programming environments. As long as somebody cleanly architects their system and uses contemporary techniques. It shouldn’t be too hard to maintain multiple versions of apps across both Android and iPhone."

But Miner also said that Apple hasn't treated developers as well as they deserve. "There are certain apps you just can't build on an iPhone" Miner said. "Apple doesn't let you do multiprocessing. They don't let your app run in the background after you switch to another. And they don't let you have interpretive language in your iPhone apps."

He praised Apple too,"The iPhone was certainly one of the most thunderous mobile introductions over the past year, and Apple did a number of things right the first time with their first device - which they should be commended for. And they just launched their third party development environment. But the love didnt last long enough, "But because of their business model and their partnerships, certain people believe that there are control issues as well. But I’m not going into that. There are plenty of blogs that discuss that."

On whether the developers should build apps for the iPhone or Android, Miner said, “It depends on what you want to build.” There are a lot of restrictions on Apple applications, he said. “You have to decide if it allows you to do what you want. It's not a competitive thing -- it's great that people are finally building tools so all of these third-party applications can be built and get out there," Miner said. "If I were a developer I'd certainly be looking at the iPhone, and if you believe there will be lots of Android phones out there, as we do, I'd be developing for both platforms."

"Ultimately, Steve Jobs just has a different goal than we do. Apple will ship iPhones to people who want that particular experience. Meanwhile, Android will be 12-key feature phones, as well as high-end smart phones, slide-out qwerty keyboard phones, and more. There will be a much larger variety of Android phones in the the long run"

On Microsoft :

Google flaming Microsoft isn't new or surprising. Miner spoke about his days at Orange and working on Windows Mobile, "When I was at Orange, we launched the first Windows Mobile phone. And I was impressed with that phone, or at least the promise of it. But we wanted to do a push to talk service, a very simple service. So you could push a button and speak. And then we found a bug in Windows Mobile, in a documented API. We didn't have the source code. The manufacturer who built the phone for us didn't have the source code. So we went to Microsoft. And Microsoft took about 18 months to fix this problem in a documented API."

The verdict on Android will be out when the first series of phones hit the market. And it will be interesting to see how the Android source is modified once thats out too.

Source: [The Register] [VentureBeat]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Security solution for Android

One of the first security suite for Android has been announced by Savant Protection. The company which specializes in intrusion prevention, has ported its security solution, Savant Technology, to Android.

As mobile computing gains popularity, threats to personal data stored on mobile devices continue to grow. Security professionals around the world are touting mobile devices as the next big malware magnet, and Android, being open and in the spotlight, is an obvious target. Savant Protection proposes to secure Android from malwares and intrusion with their solution.

Savant Technology assigns a unique cryptographic signature to every application in the system thereby not allowing unknown and unauthorised apps to execute. According to the company,
"regardless of the intrusion approach, Savant stops any and all crimeware at the point of attack". While theres still time to see how successful this solution will be, many more companies can be expected to follow with their own security solutions.

Android has not been subjected to a security review yet, so its not known if it will have any extra security measures (other than those inherent to Linux) or will third-party solutions like this one fill the void.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

“Android: Connecting Your Life to the Web”

Dan Morrill was at the ETech conference in San Diego speaking about Google's vision for Android phones. Dan explained Android's open development model and how it works to make Android free and open to carriers, manufacturers and enthusiasts, with no permission required to develop apps.

Dan demonstrated using a sample app
"Google Grapes" ,to get the latest prices of several wines from a Google Doc spreadsheet. While this isn't amazingly exciting, it was enough to show Android's responsiveness and syncing capabilities.“We want people to think of the web as someone that’s always them,” he said.

Later, at the Q&A session, questions ranging from iPhone to SDK to the security issue were asked,

What if carriers create locked-down versions of Android?

Morrill argued that there’s no incentive to make incompatible models. In any case, they plan to make as high quality a device as possible, which should eliminate incentive to create alternate versions, especially locked-down ones. Once the handset is available, he added, the Alliance will shift to being more like an open-source team setting a development road map.

Will Android be imported to the iPhone?

“We’re not paying any attention to existing devices,” Morrill answered, suggesting that’s it’s up to someone else to do that.

How does Google make money off Android?

Right now that’s not really a high priority, said Morrill. Instead, Android is strictly about getting an open platform out there.

What’s the maturity level of the SDK?

Very early load. “We’re not even calling it Alpha or Beta,” he said. They believe it’s more important to get developers working on it now.

How will they make sure applications don’t clash with each other?

From an architecture perspective, at the bottom of Android is a Linux kernel. Every application is installed onto a different user ID. Upshot: Two applications won’t have any permission to interact with each other (unless they’re specifically developed to do so).

Doesn’t the open platform model increase security risk with danger of malware, phishing programs, etc?

Morrill acknowledged that users will be exposed to a web-like risk level, more risk than they’re currently used to on the phone. However, he pointed to Android’s permissions infrastructure — every application will only access resources with the user’s specific permission.

Via : [GIGAOM]

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sybase engine on Android

"Android will be one of the platforms on which the Sybase engine will run". Speaking at Sybase Federal Symposium in Washington about the company's new cross-platform mobile runtime enviroment, Raj Nathan, CMO, said that the company will be releasing the software to unify the task of data storage/management across different mobile platforms including Android. A Sybase subsidiary, iAnywhere, already has around 70 percent of the mobile database market, clearly dominating powerful rivals like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft.

The software, codenamed - "
Unwired Enterprise Platform
", will act as an abstraction layer which will allow developers to run their programs on different platforms wiithout much of rewriting the code. The runtime environment will do the task of interacting with the OS and hardware. The engine will make back-end databases connections through ODBC/JDBC drivers and have a set of device-management applications. Sybase will provide a plug-in to Eclipse and MS Visual Studio for the developer environment and will be releasing the engine in the second-half of 2008.

When released, this tool will allow the developers to easily port their data intensive apps to and from Android.

Source : GCN

"Apps for Android"

The Official Android developer team has started a new project "apps-for-android" to create sample apps for demonstrating different features of Android. First in the line is WikiNotes, an app to create links out of WikiWords(words that use CamelCase). The links could point to a contact no. or a website

WikiNotes for Android was written to demonstrate a number of core concepts in Android, including:

- Multiple Activities in an Application (View, Edit, Search, etc.)

- Default intent filters for View/Edit/Search based on MIME types

- Life cycle of Activities

- Message passing via Bundles in Intents

- Use of Linkify to add Intent-firing links to text data

- Using Intents within an application

- Using Intents to use an Activity within another application

- Writing a custom ContentProvider that implements search by note title

- Registration of ReST-like URIs to match titles, and do contents searches

- SQLite implementations for insert, retrieve, update, delete and search

- UI layout and creation for multiple activities

- Menus and keyboard shortcuts

Many more great apps can be expected from this project.

Source : Android Developers Blog

Android SDK Updated to m5-rc15

A new version of the SDK is out, m5-rc15. It is another update in the process of transitioning from M3 to M5 version and now includes all the changes mentioned in the documentation when m5-rc14 was released. The update doesn't introduce any new API and does not require you to update the Eclipse ADT plugin.

The primary reason of this release is to fix a vulnerability in the handling of images. This security issue was
reported by Alfredo Ortega from Core Security Technologies. It was reported that a vulnerability in the handling of images allowed complete control of the phone. The vulnerability had been identified to cause heap and integer overflow while handling GIF, PNG, BMP images.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Google adds Gears to mobile

Google has released the first version of Gears for mobile platform, only for Windows Mobile 5 and 6 as of now. Gears allows developers to code for the web browser rather than the native OS,this saves the developers a lot of time and headache.Gears installs a SQLite engine on the client device which is used as a cache for storing data while the device is online. When offline, Gears provides the data in this cache to the web applications. The main focus is to allow you to do your online stuff even if the connectivity breaks in between, like offline blogging or surfing the web.

Currently only Internet Explorer is supported, but considering the dominance of Opera and the increasing popularity of WebKit, we can expect some additions.First couple of apps surfacing for it are Buxfer (finance tracking application) and Zoho writer.

Its interesting that Google has released the first version for Windows Mobile considering their rivalry. Microsoft, on their front have quoted to take Silverlight offline in the future, but currently focussed to bring Silverlight to Linux and mobile devices. They've already done it on Nokia.

When Gears comes to WebKit, it will surely be a great addition to Android with some new great set of web applications.

In the video, Google engineers Andrei Popescu and Dave Burke chat about this new development and its future prospects.

Via [GearsBlog]

Intel's Atom

Intel is back in the handheld devices business with 'Atom', the most compact processor by the company so far.This is Intel's second foray into small handheld devices after it sold off its XScale series to Marvell.The 'Atom' line of processors are a single shed for Intel's Silverthorne and Diamondville series. The Menlow platform has been renamed as 'Centrino Atom'. Silverthorne is intended for MID and Diamondville for UMPC. 'Centrino Atom' includes a Silverthorne, as well as Poulsbo chipset and a wireless chipset. Atom runs at a top speed of 1.8 Ghz. The lower-end of the speed spectrum hasn't been mentioned.

Looking at that, its possible that, the first series of Androids shipping later this year will be running on an Atom. Considering that the initial Android devices will be running at 500 Mhz - 700 Mhz, Silverthorne seems a good choice. On the contrary, some analysts believe that the 1st generation of Silverthorne is not small enough to fit into a smartphone and it will take Morrestown's (2nd generation Silverthorne, 2009) SoC design to make it possible.

Considering that both Intel and Texas Instruments(
OMAP3) are prominent members of OHA, the speculation on the processors is widely open. It all comes down to HTC, which will be the first company to release Android-based phones. HTC has used ARMv11 on its TynTN II and Qualcomm's MSM7200 (ARM11-based SoC) for Shift(400 Mhz), Nike 100/200, Kaiser 100, Polaris 100/200, Erato and upcoming Omni(528 Mhz), Sedna and Sirius 100.

Via [Forbes.com]

Monday, March 3, 2008

File Manager for Android

SDK : M5-rc14
Manage is a file manager to do basic file operations like move, copy, delete etc. I've used this as a reference for the 'file browser' part of the code. Ideally, the options should've been done in Menu, but here i've used List Dialog. Theres nothing much to explain in the code since most of it is Java I/O.



Bugs List

Comments/Suggestions are welcome.