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Android at MWC
The story of Android is remarkable in its own right –formed by key players of the industry and being under the wing of the world’s largest telecom companies, this venture has all chances to succeed. Back in 2005, Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire), Nick Sears (ex Vice President at T-Mobile), and Chris White (one of the first engineers at WebTV) founded a small startup – Android. The company’s focus was development of interfaces and software for mobile phones. In 2007 the Open Handset Alliance (comprising Google, HTC, Intel, Motorola, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, è NVIDIA) picked the platform created by Android as the consortium’s official product for mobile phones.
What is interesting, right before Mobile World Congress 2008 kicked off, they had rolled out a new SDK version for the Android platform (m5-rc14) packing in a bunch of revamps. First and foremost, it boasts a new user interface, plus all developers can now enhance their applications with animations; the new SDK also enables geo-coding, that allows your current address to be translated into co-ordinates and vice versa. On top of that, they threw in support for some new media codecs: OGG Vorbis, MIDI, XMF, iMelody, RTTL/RTX and OTA audio files. And finally, the new release shipped with the Eclipse plugin.
But contrary to all expectations software developers had had for the m5-rc14, it didn’t improve the SDK’s phone-related features in any way. As they claim, it is a serious omission, for they still can’t access certain features, like there is no way for a phone number to get identified or beam DTMF signals.
Among the participants of the Mobile World Congress that showcased Android-centric devices or services, were ARM, Marvell, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, NEC è ST Microelectronics, TAT and even E28.
Here ARM demoed an Android-powered solution, but since this maker’s primary focus is development of processors, rather than their production, their prototype ran on Texas Instruments’s OMAP 3430.
NEC rolled out the Medity2 platform along with developer kits. The platform itself is notable for its CPU running at 500 Mhz, plus it is compatible with most widely adopted OS for mobile devices. Shoulder to shoulder with the Android’s reference board sat Windows Mobile, Symbian OS S60 and Mobilinux. The Android’s unit was connected to the Web via Ethernet, but we also saw GSM, HSPA and WiFi modules in action.
The maker demoed an operable prototype based on Android and a developer’s tool. Both devices were powered by the OMAP 3430 running at 500 Mhz. As the company’s representatives claimed, the developer’s tool kit is set to become available shortly for around 700 USD, and will include a device for software debugging, applications for PC and documentation.
TAT, which a Swedish developer with focus on user interfaces and consulting in this field, showcased novel UIs for Android.
The booth of E28 featured a touchscreen-enabled device running the Android platform, although the floor unit we got our hands on had a very modest CPU – OMAP TI 730 (200 Mhz) – and packed in only 64 Mb of RAM.
Published 19 February 2008
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