« Walt digs the Droid with some reservations | Main | iPod Touch 3G: the preferred second wireless handheld to the Android smart phone »

November 06, 2009

The rise of Android: Google having its cupcake (and donut, eclair, flan, etc.) and eating it too, but not sharing

Gizmodo posts this tongue-in-cheek article: Giz Explains: Android, and How It Will Take Over the World.

Verizon Wireless has certainly boosted the recognition of the Android mobile phone OS supported by Google and the Open Handset Alliance with their current ad campaign for their Motorola Droid smart phone.

For some reason they're branding this phone as evil. I guess to upset the iPhone applecart in a hurry.

The TV commercials show space-age bombers deploying bomb-like metal containers across America's heartland (where AT&T's coverage just so happens to be weak?). The containers hit the soft dirt with explosive force, scaring horses and children alike, then a metal leaf shutter opens revealing the evil intruder with the ominous red eye. It makes HAL look like avuncular. Their prior commercials have been very aggressive against AT&T's network shortcoming, prompting AT&T to take legal action.

Regarding the Giz article, it points out that while the basic Android OS is open source, it can also include propriety apps and extensions that don't have to be shared with the open source community.

With the first Android phone on Sprint, the Hero (Android 1.5 aka Cupcake), HTC implemented a form of multi-touch, but could only do so on the open source portions of the OS, the browser for one. Google apps such as Google Earth and Map don't have the HTC multi-touch hack because they're proprietary. Some speculate that this an agreement by Google not to compete with Apple's multi-touch on the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Palm decided not to play nice, and added multi-touch to the Pre, as well as using Apple's iTunes to sync the phone with your PC. Apple fixed that with an update to iTunes.

And, if you make your own Android phone, you'd better not use Google's apps, "like when Android modder Cyanogen had to strip the apps out of his custom Android builds to avoid getting sued by Google."

Having tried the HTC multi-touch, I didn't like it, and it doesn't work as well as Apple's. It's hard to get the right sizing. When you think you have it right, it snaps to a different magnification. This makes it very hard to fill the screen with a particular column on a Web site. With the Apple multi-touch, a double tap just seems to do the trick.

Competition is always a good thing, so is free stuff such as Google's turn-by-turn voice navigation supported by their Android 2.0 release aka Eclair, unless you're Garmin or Tom Tom whose stocks have recently taken a hit.

There will be more hardware devices running Android, that's expected, but that's also the problem. With various manufacturers producing devices with different screen sizes and resolutions, plus adding their own proprietary extensions, the Android mobile phone experience will be inconsistent, and the brand could suffer.

Apple has the advantage of having close control over the hardware. The iPod Touch 3G I'm using now is unsurpassed in the way software is integrated with the device. Everything flows, with no clunky menus or hacks. The Web browsing experience is the best, as well as playing media. Well, that is if you don't include Flash, as that war is raging between Apple and Adobe. Flash also is building a bad reputation because of Web sites that are serving up ads you have to suffer through before you get the content you expected. Also, Flash has security risks, including the troublesome use of Flash cookies. Some are saying there should be open standard for vector graphic media and compressed video. I think Apple wants to stick by QuickTime.

This all means that change is picking up in pace. The smart phone you buy today will probably look very indequate a year from now. The next wave coming will be in speech recognition. I've already been amazed by Google's Voice Search on the HTC Hero phone I had tested. Speech recognition will be the killer app for mobiles, IMHO. It will take a beefed up processor on your phone to support this. Right now, they use a back end solution where Google's servers do the processing.

What's unshakeable is the Web's movement towards the mobile platform, and Google will be there.


blog comments powered by Disqus