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Handhelds Hardware

SDK Shoot Out, Android Vs. IPhone 413

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister delves into the Android and iPhone SDKs to help sort out which will be the best bet for developers now that technical details of the first Android smartphone have been announced. Whereas the iPhone requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5.4 or later, ADC membership, and familiarity with proprietary Mac OS X dev tools, the standard IDE for Android is Eclipse. And because most tasks can be performed with command-line tools, you can expert third parties to develop Android SDK plug-ins for other IDEs. Objective-C, used almost nowhere outside Apple, is required for iPhone UI development, while app-level Android programming is done in Java. 'By just about any measure, Google's Android is more open and developer-friendly than the iPhone,' McAllister writes, noting Apple's gag order restrictions on documentation, proprietary software requirements to view training videos, and right to reject your finished app from the sole distribution channel for iPhone. This openness is, of course, essential to Android's prospects. 'Based on raw market share alone, the iPhone seems likely to remain the smartphone developer's platform of choice — especially when ISVs can translate that market share into application sales,' McAllister writes. 'Sound familiar? In this race, Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux.'"
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SDK Shoot Out, Android Vs. IPhone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:46AM (#25151477)

    Android runs on Linux....

  • by pez ( 54 ) * on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:47AM (#25151495) Journal

    Whereas the iPhone requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5.4 or later, ADC membership, and familiarity with proprietary Mac OS X dev tools, the standard IDE for Android is Eclipse.

    So I can run any CPU from any vendor, with any OS, and no familiarity with anything, to develop for Android? Cool!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cduffy ( 652 )

      A cross-platform toolchain is, all things being equal, preferable to a single-platform one, and likely to have a wider already-familiar userbase.


    • Re:Biased much? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by samkass ( 174571 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:59AM (#25151691) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, almost all the metrics mentioned in the summary are irrelevant. Objective-C is something you can probably pick up in an afternoon. It's simpler than most modern scripting languages. And if you are unable to do so, as an iPhone owner I'd say please go write your app for Google anyway.

      They mention ADC "membership" as if it's anything other than a free web sign-up. It's true that you need to pay $99 to be able to put the app on a real device, though. But in exchange for the $99 you get 2 incident reports in which you can talk to actual Apple engineers and access to a worldwide marketplace tied to the most successful digital media store in history.

      And... in the end, there's really no SDK shoot out in the article. Which platform is, in the end, easier to develop for? Yes, Apple does a lot of stuff proprietary-- but is it better? Interface Builder is pretty frikkin awesome. The integration of the debugger and ability to run DTrace with a sweet UI remotely on the device is very nice. There are GL ES performance monitors, database monitors, etc etc etc. Yes, you can use Eclipse with Android and someday some developers might write plugins for it, but does that really make up for all these tools? I'm curious to find out. Someone should write an article...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Altus ( 1034 )

        while I agree with you on most of the apple tools, debugger integration is not really their strongest point.

        Now I haven't even looked sideways at the iPhone SDK but I'm still curious. Since xcode is just a UI on top of gcc, couldn't you just as easily do all your development for the SDK on the command line (accepting that you might be better off doing the interface development in interface builder). Sure, your probably still stuck on a mac since the SDK isn't available elsewhere, but it seems like you cou

        • Re:Biased much? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by samkass ( 174571 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:32AM (#25152155) Homepage Journal

          That's a good point and probably true, especially for developing for the Simulator. In fact even the helper apps (like converting to iPhone-preferred audio formats) are all command line tools. However, it seems like it would be a huge amount of work for little gain to unhook it from XCode, but I would be surprised if it couldn't be done once you figure out the zillion-and-one configuration issues.

          I know we're all under NDA, but I've had very little problems with debugger integration. There's sometimes the frustrating unexplained BAD_ACCESS, but in general I can see threads, allocations, I/O, memory leaks, locks, allocations, SQL reads/writes/locks, OpenGL monitors, etc etc etc. I thought it was pretty impressive myself. Gotta love DTrace.

        • Re:Biased much? (Score:5, Informative)

          by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:34AM (#25152207)

          "...debugger integration is not really their strongest point."

          You should really take a sideways look at the iPhone SDK. The debugger integration is solid and almost up there with Visual Studio for memory and thread debugging.

          While xcode is technically just a wrapper on top of GCC, Apple has done an enormous amount of work to integrate all elements of the toolchain into the environment in a way that enhances developer productivity.

          I used xcode when it first came out and was underwhelmed - it was really just a simple gcc wrapper back then. But, it's evolved significantly and makes the GNU tools it's built on actually efficient to use (think using the CLI version of gdb for debugging compiled, multi-threaded code on remote devices... sure, you can do it, but it's a time sink).


        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by drerwk ( 695572 )
          XCode is just a UI for editing files and running command line build commands. So, one could probably do everything from the command line. But the whole thing comes configured for iPhone development, and it is nice to hit the button and have the app show up on the phone. I prefer to spend my time developing...at least until there is something that I can not do in XCode.
          I do prefer Eclipse, and the differences in completion and help are slightly annoying, but I would not say that XCode, or Obj-C are gettin
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Altus ( 1034 )

            absolutely. I feel the same way and I would certainly not be opposed to using x-code for iPhone development, but since being tied to x-code was brought up as a negative I thought it would be worth pointing out that your not actually tied to x-code.

            I be if someone really watned to they could put together a version of eclipse that was ready to go for iphone development. I dont have the motivation, but maybe its a big issue for other people out there. Then again, maybe most people are like you and I and jus

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ghoti ( 60903 )

      This is a bullshit comparison that doesn't go deeper than "NDA bad, Linux good." What about the actual API? The tools available for profiling code and debugging? GUI designer? Simulator? I like Eclipse and Java, but Xcode and the tools in the iPhone SDK are pretty damn awesome, I doubt that Android is anywhere near that.

    • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:27AM (#25152085) Homepage

      Wow, what a treat we have today:

      It's a Slashdot user with a 2 digit user ID, they're very rare.

      OK, take some photos, but be very quiet in case you startle it. Don't point your flash directly at its eyes since it's probably unaccustomed to bright light and you might blind it.

      When you're done, I'll be over there with the rest of the tour group.

  • No need for a message when the subject line says it all.
  • by LibertineR ( 591918 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:49AM (#25151521)
    is which of these damn phones is going to make its owner a better human being? I mean, that IS why we buy these things, right?

    We buy MACs as conversation starters, PCs because we are depressed and dont like ourselves, and are gluttons for punishment.

    Which of these phones is going to make me more attractive? Which phone will increase the size of my- er, um, bank account?

    I dont just want a fuckin phone, I want a phone to provide solutions to Global Warming, AIDS and Fat People. THAT is the phone I want, dammit!

    • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:57AM (#25151675)

      I want a phone to provide solutions to Global Warming, AIDS and Fat People.

      You just gave me a great idea for an iPhone app. Look for it soon on the App store!

      • You just gave me a great idea for an iPhone app. Look for it soon on the App store!

        Actually that's how things will work. Google will innovate with its cool apps, which Apple will HAVE TO copy to retain its market share.

        "Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower."
        - from The Book of Mozilla, 11:9

    • I want a phone to provide solutions to Global Warming, AIDS and Fat People. THAT is the phone I want, dammit!

      It must be me here, but I see a "two birds with one stone" statement in there.

  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <`tim.almond' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:50AM (#25151547) Homepage

    In this race, Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux.

    It's more like Apple is taking a page from Apple's book and Google looks suspiciously like Microsoft.

    For all their faults, Microsoft have always been more developer friendly than Apple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amorsen ( 7485 )

      Indeed, let us all be glad that Microsoft won the PC war instead of Apple. Jobs would have been worse.

      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:48AM (#25152415)

        Indeed, let us all be glad that Microsoft won the PC war instead of Apple. Jobs would have been worse.

        It's more complicated than that. [zefrank.com] Although I agree with the general sentiment.

        It wasn't so much that Microsoft won. It's more along the lines of IBM losing and Apple losing more. Or rather, IBM winning by losing and Apple losing by winning. IBM lost control of its platform which then became a commodity platform to take over the industry. Apple maintained control of their platform(s) and became marginalized players in a market they were a major part in creating.

        Microsoft was, of course, a major part of this history. And their role tends to shift over the years. At first they were a key component in allowing Compaq to start the (legal) "IBM clone" market. They then shift to becoming the (or at least one of the very few) common factor to the new commodity market - gatekeepers who in turn begin to influence the direction of that market.

        It should be noted that Microsoft's developer-driven focus is part and parcel of the overall market. Proprietary platforms were the old world (something Sun had to re-learn). Microsoft was operating in a commodity world - or at least, riding the wave of commodity hardware. That mindset was in stark contrast to Apple's.

      • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:10PM (#25153661)

        What a stupid thing to say! Nobody had to "win". We had a perfectly good PC ecosystem in the 80s, with at least half a dozen viable platforms. That is what we should have today. Being glad that Microsoft won the PC war would be like being glad that the United States won World War III. Yeah, we won, but the world is still a poisoned nuclear wasteland.

    • In the 1990s, Microsoft used its developer mindshare to drive desktop user adoption despite being user-unfriendly.

      Now, Apple is using its user mindshare to drive mobile developer adoption despite being developer-unfriendly.

  • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:52AM (#25151589) Homepage

    I actually RTFA because I clicked on it before there were comments, got to the end and went looking for the next page link - but there isn't one. It's pretty light on any interesting technical details - mentions some stuff about the IDE, the frameworks ("one is Java and the other is Objective-C") and ends with the same question everyone else is asking, at the moment - which will be better.

    If you've payed any attention at all to both Android and iPhone development already there's probably not much in there you won't have picked up from casually reading bits and pieces. Unfortunately. Let me know when there's a nice in-depth article available!

    • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:59AM (#25151697) Homepage

      I read it too. It's a troll.

      "Apple makes you use Apple stuff." Boo-hoo. Does that surprise anyone?

      Android is more open. That's a given. That was a major design goal.

      How about the real question: how well does the iPhone framework work for developing applications? I've heard it's very nice, and very similar to desktop Mac programming so it's an easy transition for Mac developers. How nice is the Android setup? It it easier/harder to make simple applications? More complex things?

      How about an SDK shootout actually looks at at least the names of the functions you use and tries to guess if one is easier to develop.

      This isn't a "shootout", it's more punditry.

      • by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:12AM (#25151853) Homepage

        How about the real question: how well does the iPhone framework work for developing applications? I've heard it's very nice, and very similar to desktop Mac programming so it's an easy transition for Mac developers. How nice is the Android setup? It it easier/harder to make simple applications? More complex things?

        Well, see, for me it doesn't even make sense get to this part. It doesn't matter how nice the SDK might be when the reward for spending a not that small amount of money on the reqired hardware and the subscription, and weeks or months of my time on development could be having my application removed from the store, and Apple actually forbidding me from telling my customers what happened.

        Now when Apple stops being stupid, then I will become interested in comparing them on their technical development merits.

        • by dara ( 119068 )

          I mostly agree with the idea that my impression of an SDK shootout was it would give me an idea of the ease of development of a particular type of application given some familiarity with the design flow on each platform. But it is also true that there are a few annoyances on the Apple SDK side. I have access to a Mac, but it is one point behind on the OS - no go. Maybe there is some justification for this, but it still is annoying. If I get the person who owns this Mac to upgrade it, I still am extremel

      • by toQDuj ( 806112 )

        I also think an accurate analysis cannot be made unless there are several Android-based devices on the market. That was the other advantage of Android, right? That it could run on many different phones from many different manufacturers without issues? I will be applauding Android if they get _that_ goal right.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How about an SDK shootout actually looks at at least the names of the functions you use and tries to guess if one is easier to develop.

        Well, since the Apple NDA on the SDK prevents you from talking about it, you can't write about actual functions on the iPhone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smoker2 ( 750216 )
        Nice try shifting the argument there.
        What strikes me, is the similarity to the Matrix argument. What use is a developer friendly SDK, if you are prevented from running the code on the device you're writing for ?
        Sure, $99 (+ Mac) doesn't sound much, but the issue is not money, it's access to the networking api for the apps you want to create. I don't care how fucking bling and shiny the SDK is if I can only write hello world (locally) using it.
        Yet again, form over function for apple.
        • What strikes me, is the similarity to the Matrix argument. What use is a developer friendly SDK, if you are prevented from running the code on the device you're writing for ?

          Sure, $99 (+ Mac) doesn't sound much, but the issue is not money, it's access to the networking api for the apps you want to create. I don't care how fucking bling and shiny the SDK is if I can only write hello world (locally) using it.

          Your post makes no sense. I can't tell if you are complaining about what you can do with the simulato

    • by einer ( 459199 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:05AM (#25151781) Journal

      As a Java programmer who used to program in Objective-C, I can tell you right now Objective-C is easier, cleaner and nicer to program. It's dynamically typed, where Java tries to enforce static typing. GUI-wise, it's a total win for Cocoa. The widgets and controls are an order of magnitude easier to understand and use than Java's swing/awt/swt nightmare. My biggest complaint with OC is garbage collection (which is no longer an issue as of 2.0). Also, Java has a much larger community. For those two reasons alone, Java wins the mindshare, but if you're asking me which one I'd rather program in, it's Objective-C hands down.

      • by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg@cowl a r k . c om> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:50AM (#25152445) Homepage Journal

        GUI-wise, it's a total win for Cocoa. The widgets and controls are an order of magnitude easier to understand and use than Java's swing/awt/swt nightmare.

        Um, you are aware that Android does not use Swing, AWT or SWT?

        In fact, as someone who's actually written code for a bunch of different mobile platforms, including some proprietary ones (shudder, shudder, 20 minute build cycles, shudder), Android is an absolute dream to code for.

        In essence, Android encourages applications to be data-centric; and the Android UI allows to to hook up a custom View of your choice to a real SQL backend via automatic cross-process IPC (which allows you to export data to other apps) in about 100 lines of well-spaced code. Compared to, say, Symbian, where you have to spend half your time thrashing through their documentation trying to figure out the lunatic memory management model and the other half waiting for it to build, it's simply so nice. Instead of having to spend all your time on trivial data management issues you can simply press ahead to the application logic itself.

        (Not to mention that the Android tools work. The debugger just works, and honours breakpoints, which is more than you can say for Symbian's.)

        (Also, as the Objective-C object model was blatantly stolen from Smalltalk, and the Java object model was also blatantly stolen from Smalltalk but with C++ syntax, there's actually much less in it than you might think.)

      • by jeremyp ( 130771 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:50AM (#25152457) Homepage Journal

        I agree with pretty much everything you say except the garbage collection part. Whilst Objective-C 2.0 does have garbage collection, the iPhone SDK does not support it. You're stuck with the old reference counting mechanism, at least you were in the beta that I tried out.

  • huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:53AM (#25151599) Homepage

    requires a intel mac?

    dont tell that to my G5... it's happily working.

    • Guess my Classic II is out then...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mr_majestyk ( 671595 )
      er looks like you didn't RTFA...the iPhone SDK only works on Intel-based Macs
      • Not completely true. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by BSDimwit ( 583028 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:55AM (#25152511)
        Not true... It can be made to work on PPC macs with a few minor tweaks and the assistance of Pacifist. What you can't do is sign apps so that they can be run on an external device(the app signer isn't a universal binary). I use the sdk at home on my PPC powerbook, and check the code into my subversion repository, then when on an intel based Mac, sign the apps and test on the iPhone. Not ideal, but its better than nothing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        So should I show my computer the article as well because it does not believe you, and it's running the SDK on a dual G5.

        I dont give a flying fart what some article says, I care about what works in real life and I have the iPhone SDK working on a G5.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:53AM (#25151613)

    Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux."

    No, Apple looks pretty much like Apple, and Android looks as much like Microsoft as it does Linux.

  • The big caveat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No standard headphone jack = no sale for this consumer. Looking forward to future android offerings though.

    • Likewise. It's a non-starter to have an phone with an MP3 player that I can't charge while listening to, and that I can't use my favourite headphones with without a (break-prone) adapter. I've also heard that the initial release doesn't support bluetooth headsets ... can anyone provide more info on that?
  • by hashax ( 1190057 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:55AM (#25151639)

    We have seen it for thousands of generations, the oppressed/rebel kid/cool dude becomes the oppressor. Apple is the new Microsoft. Pretty soon Google will be the new Microsoft, who knows what next.

    What I do know is eventually it'll lead to by the law of natural selection the most oppressive organisation in the form of Skynet and mankind's only hope will be an Austrian Terminator (no no Summer Glau of Sarah Connor Chronicles is NOT a fighter type more like a japanese maid robot)

    p.s. we do have to melt the terminator in the end just to be on the safe side

  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday September 25, 2008 @10:57AM (#25151659)
    And before you can view the training videos, you must first download them (for free) from the iTunes Store. Windows users, that means you'll need to install QuickTime and iTunes --

    Oh, you mean I HAVE to install iTunes to watch the training videos? Bummer.
  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:01AM (#25151717) Homepage

    The iPhone is primarily an awesome hand-held phone, GPS, PDA, etc. Pre-loaded 1st-party apps are what make the device sing. The ability to get 3rd-party apps is a secondary benefit. Most people buying this device are using it for what it comes with. This will be the case more and more as the device becomes more mainstream.

    I hope that Android phones don't focus on the development aspects first, and the 1st-party applications second. If the device has all the same nice features of an iPhone + is better to develop for, then great. But if it does not have the ease-of-use and functionality of an iPhone right off the bat, then it won't succeed.

    • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:11AM (#25151851)
      Developers are what make an OS. If you attract the developers to your platform then they will think of things that you never even dreamed of. It is like getting a huge group of software engineers for free to help sell your product. Think of Windows if it only had Word, Excel, and Outlook (and paint).
      • by thammoud ( 193905 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:25AM (#25152055)

        While I absolutely agree with you, it is a lot more important to initially get a phone with first class applications preloaded. Most normal users will not go hunting for "better" version of apps (Think Firefox vs IE). They will use what is installed. From what I am reading, the Android applications are of lower quality to those of the IPhone. This is very disappointing.

    • Yeah, "1st-party" is definitely the only way to go. Time has shown that "the community" sucks at making software. This silly OSS fad is no match for paying a crapload of money to Apple.

      I thought the point of the open SDK was to *change* this notion that the phone and the software that comes with it are synonymous.

      • by toQDuj ( 806112 )

        Somehow I think consumers would not like to download a "phone"-app first (and have to choose between a plethora of not-quite-similar products), before they can use it as a phone. So yes, first-party applications ARE important.


    • 1st-party applications? You mean you have to program it yourself?

      If you want to say that the seller of the phone provides apps, you mean second-party.

  • by ncw ( 59013 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:04AM (#25151763) Homepage

    It would be nice to see comparisons of the market leaders with development for iPhone / Android.

    Based on raw market share, Symbian is the market leader (57%), followed by Blackberry (17%), Windows Mobile (12%), Linux (7%) and then iPhone (2.8%). Android yet to make a showing!

    ( Figures from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone [wikipedia.org] )

    I've done Symbian developement and there are lots of ways of doing it. Nokia's C/C++ API, Java or even Python. It isn't 100% open as in you can't have the source code of the OS, but the APIs are all documented and there aren't any restrictions on what your apps can do. If you want your apps signed it can be harder I'm told, but I've never tried that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nursie ( 632944 )

      Well, Android is actually just google-shininess on top of Linux, so I'd say it adds to the Linux share, rather than warranting its own.

  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:06AM (#25151793)

    As a fan of OS X, and Apple in general, I think they are trying to see how far they can push their control over the matter.

    On the subject of their NDA, I'm not an insider, but it seems stupid, unnecessary, and harmful to me.

    Android may be more open, but that does not always mean it's better. A few things are for certain:
    - no one is comparing Android to Blackberry. It seems that the iPhone has become the de-facto one to kill.
    - it will sure be interesting to see the battle between iPhone's closed development model on a hot device, and Android's open development on so-so devices.

    They may just both win on their own merits.

  • I appreciate Android's open platform. I also appreciate Google's effort.

    However, I have my qualms. It is not possible to write native application in C/C++. Everything has to go through the virtual machine. I haven't developed for Android except write a simple Hello World. But, I would like to write my own native application that run on the Linux kernel.

    I do not like the iPhone, I hate Apple's brick walls around their platform which is anti to what Apple once stood for. 3rd party apps has made Symbian/WM

    • by Nursie ( 632944 )

      As soon as they open the source code it will be made possible.

      The problem is that you may not then be able to upload modified versions to the T-Mobile handset. But that's where open hardware comes in. I hesitate to say openmoko. because I think it's likely a little underpowered, but the principle is there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by maraist ( 68387 ) *

      I hate Apple's brick walls around their platform which is anti to what Apple once stood for.

      Funny, I always thought of Apple as a walled off isolationistic company. Where have you been? Granted they make GREAT products in their walled garden, but that was always the barrier to entry.. Apple's way or the highway. Yes I understand you probably mean programming for the desktop, but you could only ever extend so much - you had to work with what was given. IANAMP (I Am Not A Mac Programmer)

    • Once reason for the virtual machine with Android may be that Google isn't going to be vetting apps as much as Apple. So apps will need some sort of sandbox environment for now.

      We can hope that someday native apps will be common once there is a robust way of reducing the chance of rogue ones slipping through. Maybe something like what the linux distributions use to control and update apps.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's my understanding that Android runs on the VM in order to enable it to be cross platform. I mean Cross platform in that the hardware specifics of the handset don't matter as long as the handset implements the android spec correctly. Developing a native app for Android would be difficult, because there could be different hardware specifications across phones that implement the platform. You could be looking at different processors...ARMs, Motorolas, maybe even x86s now that they're getting so small (u
  • Competition. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:07AM (#25151813)

    I don't see how Android can be fairly compared with the iPhone given that the iPhone is already into it's second iteration and Android has just been released.

    Everything else aside, I think the competition is great. I do give credit to Apple for helping to invigorate this market. Well, RIM and Palm probably deserve a lot of the credit, but Apple really gave this market a swift kick in the pants.

  • We know first impressions are important.

    I find that Google's Android looks more ancient as compared to the iPhone. In terms of functionality, I would like to be able to tether both gadgets to my computer as a link to the internet for a computer.

    This is not possible with either!

    Now, whether Android's openness will make this happen faster, is a wait and see issue. On the other hand, I know Apple is a big surprises company too, so I will not rule it out at this time.

  • I've been disappointed with the lack of Python on these smartphone devices. Android might be a suitable platform for python scripting, but little work has been done to enable it that I've seen. Nokia's N810 is pretty much a perfect environment for python, with fairly strong support for making portable apps with just a little bit of extra work to use their standard maemo skins and widgets. Even if it didn't come with python stock, I was able to get python, pygame, and pymaemo going within a couple hours
    • Jython (Score:4, Informative)

      by SEMW ( 967629 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:24AM (#25152049)
      Jython [jython.org]: "A compiler to compile Python source code down to Java bytecode which can run directly on a JVM".
  • Android vs iPhone?

    Neither of them compare to Symbian OS, or Java or even Windows Mobile for that matter.

    iphone is really only a big deal in America. Outside of the US it is average to sub-par.

  • If I were developing apps for a phone, I would go Android in a heartbeat. Simple. Right?

    At face value, it seems to be the right choice.

    But the issue here isn't about which phone offers a better platform to develop, but which phone will be better as a phone!

    Will the Google phone be a really good phone?

    For the most of us, we want great reception, we want quality transmission and voice. And of course, great rates.

    So, if the Google phone is as good or better than the iPhone as an actual phone, and their marke

    • Your post missed the boat on so many points that you might even ask if there is a boat.

      There is an no google phone (yet), google has made a platform and OS if you like. Not a phone.

      Reception is hardware and has nothing to do with the software. It is also largely tied into the service provider, not the phone itself. The best phone can't receive a signal were there isn't one.

      Rates have nothing whatsoever to do with the phone but are totally dependent on your contract with your service provider.


  • by holiggan ( 522846 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:31AM (#25152139)
    How does the Windows Mobile devices stand in this "war"? They are easy to develop to (at least based on the number of applications available), they have been in the market for much longer, and they don't have any of the iPhone restrictions regarding the instalation of applications.

    It's really weird to read that "Based on raw market share alone, the iPhone seems likely to remain the smartphone developer's platform of choice"... Don't tell me that the iPhone already outselled every single Windows-based PDA/Smartphone sold in the last 10-or-so years...

    Now, I see the Android as a much serious threat to Microsoft in the smartphone playground than the iPhone. If the Android devices are polished and slick enough, the public might catch on them, and with the openness regarding the development process, the comunity would surely correct the eventual rough edges. That's simply not the case with the iPhone: why can't I use another email client on the iPhone? Oh, right, it "competes" with the native aplication...

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:34AM (#25152193)

    Whereas the iPhone requires an Intel-based Mac running OS X 10.5.4 or later, ADC membership, and familiarity with proprietary Mac OS X dev tools, the standard IDE for Android is Eclipse.

    iPhone SDK requirements to develop an iPhone app:
    OS X 10.5.3 or later (Intel or G5)
    ADC membership (free but requires registration)
    XCode (free bundled with OS X Tiger and above but not installed)
    Objective-C language

    To distribute iPhone app:
    Yearly License: Individual $99 or Enterprise $299

    Android: [google.com]
    Windows XP or Vista, OS X Tiger or higher, or Linux (tested on Ubuntu Dapper Drake)
    Eclipse 3.3 or 3.4 (free download from eclipse.org)
    Java JDK 1.5 or 1.6 (free from Sun)
    Apache Ant 1.65 (Linux/OS X), 1.7 (Windows) (free from apache.org)

    Good chart at engadget. [engadget.com]

  • Out of curiosity has anyone tried openMoko? If so, how does it compare to Android and iPhone SDK? I like the fact that it supports Qt 3
    • Re:OpenMoko (Score:4, Informative)

      by Znork ( 31774 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @03:35PM (#25155903)

      Well, I'm playing with my Freerunner right now. :)

      SDK comparison wise there's no competition. The openmoko is basically a linux machine with a touchscreen and a GSM chip. Anything you can do with a Linux machine you can do with the Moko, Qt, gtk, shells, perl, python, etc. If you lack it you can port it. Forget special-purpose limited devices, this is the real deal, a full general purpose computer.

      However, if you compare them as phones... well, the openmoko is basically a linux machine with a touchscreen and a GSM chip. After you've figured out how to flash it and decided on what distribution to run you get to debug alsa routing to bluetooth headset connections, configure gps daemons, etc. It's a good thing that it's as networked as it is (you can network over gsm, wlan, bluetooth, and what I use mostly, ethernet over USB (you'll want it in an USB port so it's charged anyway)) because you want a computer with multiple ssh sessions connected for many of the things you'll be doing on it.

      Personally I'm not the least interested in getting either an Android based phone or the iPhone (or any other locked down proprietary crap), and for me the Freerunner is among the coolest things I've ever played with (and the first phone I've ever wanted to spend a cent of my own money on). The potential is enormous, and the way the base can make it into ubiquitous devices of all kinds makes me think it can become something that influences the future in a serious way. But it's not an end-user product yet, and I think it'll take a while before it's there.

  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:40AM (#25152307) Homepage

    User interests beat developer interests, assuming that the first doesn't utterly cripple the second. And it does have to utterly cripple them to cause a problem.

    * Every Wikipedia story, Slashdot commenters bitch about their experiences of participation. However, the site's still #7 in the world, so what's it doing right? Focusing on the reader [davidgerard.co.uk].

    * GPL (a user-rights license) vs BSD. Compare the popularity of Linux versus FreeBSD.

    * iPhone vs Android. The best mobile phone interface ever. In this case, Apple is going further than anyone before in trying to utterly cripple developer interest - but if you can work an SDK then that many users is going to be attractive.

    Openness will get Android a fabulous ticky-box feature list ... but, y'know, Windows Mobile has a fabulous ticky-box feature list, and no-one picks that instead of an iPhone if they have a choice.

  • Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:46AM (#25152369)
    A story mentioning Google without a "donoevil" tag?? Someone must be falling asleep at the switch.

    In all seriousness, does the average consumer care about the underlying stuff? The "problem" with iPhone apps is that they look good, they're easy to install and they generally work. That's all the average person cares about. More and more people have iPods and thus iTunes and so are used to having the process of transfering Item A (music) to Item B (their iPod.) Now swap music for application and iPod for iPhone and you've got a something people are familiar with. Granted, that _might_ change if Google does create their own version of the Google store, but it depends how they pimp it. My guess is appropriate apps will show up in search results, the same way as their ads are tied to whatever it is for which you are searching. Now that might tip things toward them. Everybody uses "The Google" and they're all familiar with it....
  • by kscguru ( 551278 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:47AM (#25152387)

    Sure, Android is more developer-friendly than the iPhone. Has Apple ever pretended otherwise?

    Apple goes for something entirely different - being customer-friendly. Apple demands high-quality apps, and rejects substandard ones. Apple requires well-engineered user interfaces. Apple restricts the number of functionally equivalent apps and ways of doing something, to follow the well-known interface guideline of not overwhelming a user with choice.

    I can already see how Google's Android is going to end up. Want a sneak peek? Go look at SourceForge today. Maybe 10% of the projects are extremely useful high-quality projects supported by a vibrant community. 90% of the projects are abandoned crap - but they're developer-friendly! You can get the source and fix it!

    Being developer-friendly helps by making it easier to create software. That's a double-edged sword, however, because as much as developer-friendliness makes it easier to create good software, it also makes it two or three times easier to create crap software. Witness the plethora of Google apps that have never left beta, witness the gross proliferation of spyware and script-kiddie viruses, witness the rampant proliferation of me-too Linux distributions used by two people and their dog.

    The Cathedral and the Bazaar. This is very simple - when I want something fun to play with, when I want to indulge my hobbyist sweet-tooth, I go to the Bazaar. When there's something I need to depend on and I don't have the time to tweak it myself, I go to the Cathedral. Now, in all seriousness, do you see a cell phone more as a fun toy or a necessary, must-work piece of your life? I imagine a lot of Slashdot readers want the cell phone to be a toy, but I also imagine most people in this world would prefer something to Always Just Work, even if it's less fun. It's the difference between driving a fun but high-maintenance sports car on the weekends and driving a reliable commuter car to work every day; everybody wants a sports car, but most people pick the commuter car.

    Which means I don't buy the hype around Android. It's a fantastically wonderful toy, but Google's track record is that they do not have the discipline to enforce usability at the expense of their fun toys. And, to my great sorrow, that is Google's great weakness.

  • Java vs. Obj-C (Score:5, Informative)

    by parryFromIndia ( 687708 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:49AM (#25152437)
    Most of the article compares subjective/non-concrete things such as how many people use Obj-C and how many use Java. It misses on one significant aspect of the choice of language. Java opens up numerous possibilities for Android. In my opinion that was an obviously good move from google. Here is why -
    1) Safety - Java provides a lot wider safety net than native language can ever.
    2) Control - you can enforce the signing requirements in the VM for all code that is run or you can limit it as a requirement to only certain potentially unsafe APIs (RIM does this - you don't need to sign an App with RIM provided keys unless you use the more dangerous APIs.) This arrangement can generally give the user a lot more flexibility and control over what can and cannot run on the phone.
    3) Exceptions are non fatal and possible recoverable, memory leaks are harder to induce
    4) Verification of software is easier - API usage, control over how much memory is used, what network connections are made etc.

    Before people complain Java is ugly and slow - this is J2ME (Java Micro Edition) that we are talking about which is much more lean and has different UI (Android UI doesn't look anything like the ugly Desktop Java and neither does RIMs - both use J2ME) These factors obviously matter a lot in a Cell phone type environment. I am especially happier with my Blackberry that it allows me to control what a Application can do or cannot do - make Wifi connection - No, access my address book - hell no, Access location - yes, Access Device Settings - no etc.
  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:39PM (#25153199)

    > Apple is taking a page from Microsoft's book, while Google looks suspiciously like Linux

    Um, in America at least, Linux-based and/or Java-using phones (like Motorola's and the Sidekick, respectively) are some of the most locked-down phones you can buy, requiring certs and signed apps for everything. The last time I checked, anyone with a copy of Visual Studio can build apps for WM6 and deploy them to their phone, their friends' phones, or post them online for anyone else to download and install.

    When it comes to real-world PDA phones, HTC's phones running Windows Mobile have been more open than even PALM's phones were. Anyone remember the Samsung SPHi300, i330, and i500 -- all of which were eagerly bought up when introduced, then withered on the vine because Samsung wouldn't release useful SDKs for them -- not even for innocent things like the screen/soft graffiti API, let alone anything related to the phone UI? Compare that to, say, the HTC Apache/PPC-6700, which was probably the most sliced, diced, hacked, and extended phone in history... a phone that was dysfunctional and almost unusable as a phone "out of the box", but had most of its worst problems ultimately solved by independent programmers who wrote their own extensions and enhancements for it.

    The battle isn't "Android vs Windows Mobile and iPhone", it's "Android AND Windows Mobile vs iPhone". Windows Mobile devices might be some of the most dysfunctional phones on earth for making voice calls(*), but they ARE an open platform as far as app and extension development is concerned.

    (*)I'd like to kill the IDIOT(s) who decided that an incoming call on a Touch whose display is "off" should enable touchscreen input... and leave it enabled... so if you don't hear an incoming call and have the phone in your pocket, you can trigger all kinds of random events without even realizing it. Or "ignore" an incoming call by accidentally touching the wrong place on the screen while trying to fish the ringing phone out of your pocket. Or notify me that I have voicemail, but require me to dismiss the notification to see the notification that I missed a call, then keep dismissing notifications to actually SEE whose call it was that I missed.... (bangs head on wall, fantasizing occasionally about banging the phone instead).

  • by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:32PM (#25154025) Homepage Journal

    What about Qt? Qt is about the same age and maturity as Linux, with Qtopia having been out there for far longer than iPhone, Android, or OpenMoko. As of August 2006, "there are more than four million Qtopia-based mobile phones in the market including mobile phones from Motorola, ZTE and Cellon" (from the press release announcing the Greenphone [linuxelectrons.com]).

    Qt is old as dirt by today's standards, being one of the most stable and robust frameworks out there, including its embedded platform (which implements its own windowing system to compete with X11 or Windows). The main "problem" with it is that it was never pimped out like Sun's Java was, so nobody has ever heard of it.

    OpenMoko, written with Linux, GNU, and GTK+ on X11, has its telephony portions mostly written from scratch. It's so horribly immature that the Qtopia telephony software has been back-ported to Qt/X11 and now ships standard on OpenMoko devices. Truly a testament to Qt's robustness.

    With Qt 4.4, Trolltech (now Nokia) put Apple's WebKit into the Qt framework (directly!), so making a webkit-based browser in Qt is a pretty trivial pursuit, as is rendering HTML and JavaScript in any standard app. Nobody seems to realize that this puts Qt/Embedded that much further ahead. Prepare to be stunned as Qt/Embedded quickly dominates the arena that everybody currently assumes is in contention between Google Android and Apple iPhone.

    Oh, and Qt/Embedded is GPL'd software. Everything is open, your privacy can be assured, and YOU have control of your own phone. The way it should be. Just try and get that from Google or Apple. Hah!

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.