January 28, 2021
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Android: A Brief Introduction, Page 2

  • By Shane Conder
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Then there is the matter of handset compatibility. Android is a very flexible platform for handset manufacturers and wireless operators alike. It is also very flexible for custom use within enterprises of all sizes. Unfortunately, this flexibility comes at a cost, much of which falls on the developer. Not all Android handsets will have the same features or capabilities, support the same APIs, or have the same hardware specifications.This device fragmentation is common on other mobile platforms, though, and is seen as largely unavoidable in today's market. Many existing mobile developers have come up with their own solutions to the device fragmentation issue. In all likelihood, these solutions will also apply to Android. New mobile developers working with the Android emulator should not make the mistake of thinking that their applications will run exactly the same on real hardware. The emulator is highly unlikely to capture the idiosyncrasies of individual handsets. This means being prepared to test applications across multiple handsets in addition to designing the application to handle basic configuration changes to account for differences between the handsets.

Finally, I've talked about how distribution infrastructure is not yet settled for Android, but this extends beyond the application store. Although Android is at the crux of the open mobile movement, history has shown that, ultimately, operators want enforceable quality standards and support structures for the applications they deliver to end users. Android has the potential to erode the existing "walled-garden" mentality operators currently employ, or you could see operator-only stores and costly certification programs. It's just too early to tell and is certainly something to consider at project planning and risk assessment time.

What's Next?

Now that you know what Android is, some benefits it has over existing platforms, and some risks associated with it, you'll want to dive a little deeper into the platform and see what it can do for your specific project. The Android SDK is available for download for free, so any developer can get started developing and porting their own applications without any up-front fees. Developers will have to evaluate for themselves whether Android is right for them. Its potential is great; however, it is still a new platform. Changes may be frequent and marketplace acceptance is not yet known. However, the amount of discussion around Android and the existence of the Google challenges has already created a vibrant and supportive community for Android development.

References and Links

About the Author

Shane Conder is a software developer focused on mobile and web technologies. He is currently working at a small mobile software company. You can send email to Shane at "shane+a1@kf6nvr.net"

Originally published on https://www.developer.com.

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This article was originally published on August 8, 2008

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