Monday, June 02, 2008

Why google and educators are excited about Android - the first complete, open, and free mobile platform

The Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies, is developing Android: the first complete, open, and free mobile platform. To help developers get started developing new applications, Google is offering an early look at the Android Software Development Kit.

So what makes Android so special? Why not just get an iphone?

It is Open - Android allows you to access core mobile device functionality through standard API calls.
It is Breaking down boundaries
- Combine information from the web with data on the phone -- such as contacts or geographic location -- to create new user experiences.
All applications are equal
- Android does not differentiate between the phone's basic and third-party applications -- even the dialer or home screen can be replaced.
Fast & easy development
- The SDK contains what you need to build and run Android applications, including a true device emulator and advanced debugging tools.

Google is giving away $10,000,000 to developers that come up with the coolest applications for the mobile phone technology. This is a great way to spur on innovation and get some really cool apps developed for the phone. Here is a video from one of the winners of round 1 in the development contest. This application does some pretty amazing things with bar code information.

There is no Google phone, however, Android is an open platform that will be able to run on many mobile phones similarly to how an operating system can be installed on many different kinds of computers.

This technology could make some really significant advances in providing education to people worldwide. In a blog post I wrote back in 2006, I posted some research from MIT, which indicated that "cellphone usage in Africa is growing almost twice as fast as any other region and jumped from 63 million users two years ago to 152 million today. According to the the MIT website, "Africa is well-suited as a testbed for the development of a mobile phone programming curriculum. Given their massive adoption and widespread use, as well as the recent technological advances in their computational power, mobile phones are ideal substitutes for the personal computer throughout the continent."

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