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Android LBS Mobile opensource

Android and LBS – in the stack at last…

So maybe now Mr Balmer is reconsidering his comments of last week..

For me and my interest in geographic information the key detail about the Android SDK is the LBS component, and where is appears in the whole android stack. I have often argued that LBS would only really make sense as an underlining infrastructure that is available to all applications, therefore allowing much higher levels of integration.

One of the key factors to the success of the iPhone is the great integration between its applications, it’s just a shame these are currently restricted in number, to the Apple supplied applications.

Android

With Android the Location Manager component is part of the core application framework, meaning that all user applications have access to the devices location. At a simple level this means that applications like the address book as access to the device location, so your contacts rather than sorted alphabetically could be sorted based on distance from your locations.

Or slightly more “left field” how about a security application which locks the device waiting on the user to enter a PIN if the devices location does not match the scheduled location from the calendar application.

For really the first time, the innovation which always comes from Open Source development can be focused on building LBS.. at last !!

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

24 replies on “Android and LBS – in the stack at last…”

Hi Ed,

I’m no Microsoft fan, but I imagine Mr Balmer is still rather unperterbed the release of Android. Linux (and for that matter Mac OS) is still to make a dent in the desktop world and I think the same will be said for the mobile world as well. It appears that it is geeks like us that this stuff is targetted at and that isn’t really a business model which will drive this technology forward.

Realistically speaking, which operators will adopt and support hardware/software built on this stack? My view is not many since it means they won’t have control and they like to be in control!

Next question is, what hardware does this stack run on, if any, and when will it be available for general consumption? We’re talking several years at least probably more if you’re in the UK. Given that amount of time, I can see Microsoft adapting to this new (and I have to say minor) threat which will make it even harder for this hardware/software stack to penetrate the market.

In conclusion, I don’t see this being very successfull because:
1) Consumers aren’t really interested in “cool” technology as we (geeks) see it. In fact, mention Linux and most people will probably either go “huh?” or just avoid it.
2) Operators are unlikely to adopt and support for the same reason and additionally because they will have the perception of lack of control.
3) By the time the hardware is available for general consumption the market will be even harder to penetrate.

Don’t get me wrong, I think this stuff is really cool and I welcome it (sooner rather than later), but right now it is all a bit of a geek-dream, even with Google putting in so much effort. I’d love to get on and start coding with Android, but it seems a bit pointless until I can actually use my applications in a tangible manner, rather than on an emulator.

Cheers,
Brindy

Chris,

actually Linux has an edge on mobile devices.

Also, regarding your concerns about carriers, please have a look at the Open Handset Alliance website and see who are the heavyweights (besides Google) that joined the wagon…

Hi Pmarc,

I’ll have to take your word on that, I’ve never seen Linux on a mobile *phone* (but then I’m far from an expert, no do I spend all my time looking at this stuff).

That’s an impressive list of companies in the alliance. It certainly puts a good spin on things, but I’m still skeptical about getting my hands on some hardware that will allow me to run Android apps before 2010, especially since I’m in the UK.

This whole “movement” will gain credibility with me when:
1) the hardware is easy for me to get… by easy to get I mean being able to order one online for less than £200 per handset and not have to pull strings with one of the alliance members

2) more UK operators join the list (either Orange or Vodafone onboard would convince me, but I suspect it’s unlikely)

3) Nokia is added to the list of handset manufacturers (again, unlikely).

I sincerly hope it all does happen very soon, it is quite exciting technology, but for some reason I’m just feeling really skeptical right now.

Cheers,
Chris

@ Chris,

Fair enough we need to see devices and the Android platform in the hands of developers to see if this will work or not. I hope if will, the mobile internet is still stuck in the computing paradigm of the mid 1990s, CompuServe and aol controlling access to informtion and services..

Although I do feel this more about the services it is possible to deliver with access to the right tools and information as it is about device design..

ed

As we have seen all to often in the IT industry the best technology does not always become the standard adopted by millions. What the driving force behind all of this will be, is the market dominance of the software/hardware/network giants.

Linux has the problem as seen by many application developers as an operating system for technological boffins producing advanced bespoke systems and not as an operating system for standard business applications. Whilst experienced developers may have expertise in several programming languages relatively few have the same level of experience when it comes to different operating systems and writing bespoke applications for them.

This is a fundamental problem as the majority of developers are stepping if not running down the Windows .Net route and are not even considering Linux let alone Mono as an alternative. Mr Balmer knows this only to well so in the medium to long term is Microsoft concerned? NO because by the time Android and hardware to run it is available, the phone and PDA specs will be such that developers will be writing mini Windows WPF/E apps to run on these devices using Visual Studio.

Windows Presentation Foundation and XAML should not be underestimated as these technologies are already at the heart of Vista and I have no doubt will start appearing for mobile devices as well. In this respect the technological leap is as big as it was between DOS and Windows and when Visual Studio 2008 is released you will see a massive uptake in this technology. Already with WPF/E you can forget about cross browser compatibility issues if you are running .Net 3 plus and equally the same application can run as a Winform with a couple of minor alterations. The key for WPF and WPF/E is its interoperability and for the application programmer only to have to learn one method of programming regardless of the application running in a Winform, Browser, or on a mobile phone or PDA.

Microsoft has been extremely smart by reinventing the Windows operating system and the way we program business applications. WPF and WPF/E will in a few years become the platform of choice for advanced PDA and phone applications, as the tools will already be there in Visual Studio so why should developers use anything else.

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