November 15, 2007

Android: Sound and Fury signifying... ?

So... I've been looking at Android a little bit (what's actually available thus far is really the SDK, not the platform itself).

A few comments:
- Custome Java(-ish - more on this shortly)VM/bytecode engine
- Integrated Webkit for HTML/JavaScript authoring
- Fast, robust 2d graphics (native and software only) with a custom presentation engine
- OpenGL ES, with possibility of HW acceleration
- Rich storage semantics through SQLite
- Still a little fuzzy on the licensing terms: Google says (emphasis mine)"Over time, more of the code that makes up Android will be released..." - not sure what that means...

The SDK support Java application only at this stage (and the forseeable future?) - though, in theory, platform source code being available under "non-restrictive" terms creates the opportunity for other types of enhancements.

So - still early, but on the good side: LOTS of (welcome/needed) attention to the graphics and presentation layers.

On the bad: fracturing Java (which only recently has started to make progress on getting past the "build once/debug everywhere" problems). If Sun doesn't address this with Google, it'll be hard for them to maintain any credibility or cohesion with the Java Community Process for managing Java's roadmap.

Interestingly this hilights a truism of mine: for software, single implementation trumps single specification - more on this in a future post.

How this will work with open source and Android is unclear, because as Johnathon Schwartz (Sun's CEO) points out: "Companies compete, communities simply fracture".

In particular, it'll be interesting how Google rationalizes their rumoured "non-fragmentation" clause and the idea of "non-restrictive" licensing...


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