We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Analysis: Google Android now a viable proposition?

Hardware demos give boost to Google's mobile platform

Google's Android developer kit for mobile phones has been successfully installed on several hardware devices, taking it one step closer to being recognised as a genuine mobile-phone platform.

The Android Software Developer Kit (SDK), first released in November, has been developed by Google and others as part of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) with the goal of spurring innovation in the mobile space. The platform, based on the Linux 2.6 kernel, will comprise an operating system (OS), middleware stack, customisable user interface and applications.

Google released the preview version of Android without support for actual hardware - instead, developers were given a software emulator based on Qemu. However, running the software on actual hardware can give developers a more accurate idea of how their applications will run.

And while the OHA has more than 30 corporate members, open-source developers are crucial to the project's success. Google released the SDK with a few demonstration applications, and is relying on third parties to come up with the rest.

Some developers have indeed criticised the OHA's hands-off approach, criticising the lack of support for developers as well as bugs and missing functionality.

Possibly the first hardware platform to run Android was the Armadillo-500 from Atmark-Techno, based on Freescale's i.MX31L mobile processor, according to a blog post, which credited Australian developer Ben Leslie for the initial work.

Japanese telecommunications company Willcom has demonstrated another prototype Android reference board, also running on a Freescale-based chip, according to a Japanese gadget news website.

Fujitsu has published instructions on running Android on one of its reference boards.

Several developers said they had used Leslie's development work to run Android on different versions of Sharp's Linux-based Zaurus handheld computer.

One of these was software development firm EU Edge, which demonstrated Android running on a Zaurus SL-C760.

Another developer used a similar technique to run the platform on a Zaurus SL-C3000.

Installation has become easier via an installable Android image for Zaurus. A developer using the handle "cortez" and running a Zaurus SL-C3100 combined the Android SDK with the Poky Linux kernel, creating an installer that can be booted within a few minutes.

So far the Zaurus implementations have certain limitations - for instance, Android's Bluetooth doesn't yet work with Zaurus, and it can't yet interact with the handheld's touchscreen.

Google hasn't yet announced support for an official hardware development board. The first commercial handsets running Android are expected in the second half of this year.


IDG UK Sites

Best Christmas 2014 UK tech deals, Boxing Day 2014 UK tech deals & January sales 2015 UK tech...

IDG UK Sites

Apple's 2014 highlights: the most significant Apple news of 2014

IDG UK Sites

Watch this heartwarming Christmas short by Trunk for composer John Rutter

IDG UK Sites

Ultimate iOS 8 Tips: 35 awesome and advanced tips for using iOS 8 on iPhone and iPad