Is anyone else non-plussed by the gPhone/Android announcements? It seems to me that they’re simply releasing Yet Another Cellphone OS. They’re making a big deal that it’ll be open and interoperable and that anyone–from the basement hobbyist to the corporate programmer–can write apps. Don’t most of the other cellphone OSes (WinCE, Symbian, Palm, Sidekick, and [unofficially] iPhone) have similar free SDKs?

I can see how it will make some of their cellphone app development easier, though. With a Linux-based phone, they will be able to easily port the back-end of their iPhone apps (well, only Google Maps at present) to other phones. The front-end UI would have to change, but Linux and the iPhone’s BSD are POSIX-compliant-enough that I’m sure the same network, data, and business-logic code can be shared across platforms.

I’m really interested to know what they use for the front-end UI. QT would be an awesome choice. It has a good object model, is easy to program with, and has already found its way to hundreds of embedded Linux devices. I don’t know if they’ll go that route, though, as the embedded license (last time I checked) has a per-unit royalty that the desktop version of QT doesn’t have. GTK would be a free alternative, but is really clunky–trying to shoehorn C++/object-oriented concepts into plain C datastructures and function tables. It’s really not fun to code for. I guess another alternative would be to use an interpreted or bytecode language in a sandbox–like Java (but with pre-canned extra libraries specific to the cellphone), but this is usually a heavyweight solution that doesn’t fit well into cellphones and has thus far been pretty much a failure, even with the lightweight mobile variant of Java. Anyway, we’ll know soon enough, as more details emerge.

Posted in: Dear Diary Gadgets

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *