Google’s Dan Morrill on Android

8 Comments

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Speaking for the Open Handset Alliance, of which Google is the most prominent benefactor/promoter, Morrill highlighted his talk — “Android: Connecting Your Life to the Web” — at the ETech conference in San Diego this afternoon with an Android emulator running from his laptop.

Using a mock-up app called Google Grapes, Morrill fetched the prices and ratings of several wines from a Google Doc spreadsheet. (Perfect for consulting while you’re at the store, shopping for a good vintage.) More impressively, he typed a new wine listing into the web-based spreadsheet, and almost instantaneously, the entry popped up onto the Android display. So along with being a phone, he explained, this is kind of functionality Android will provide: web-like applications that fit in your hand, optimized to a mobile platform. “We want people to think of the web as someone that’s always them,” he said.


Set to go on sale in the second half of this year, Morrill was on hand at ETech to explain how Android will work at the platform level: an open development model, free and open to carriers, manufacturers and enthusiasts, with no permission required to develop apps. As far as what applications will be available when the phone goes on sale in stores, he was mum on specifics. But after the talk, he told me: “You’re gonna see everything you’d see on a mobile device.” He pointed me to the Android Developer Challenge, for which Google is providing $10 million in grants as seed money for developers working on promising applications.

Some audience Q&A:

What if carriers create locked-down versions of Android?

Morrill argued that there’s no incentive to make incompatible models. In any case, they plan to make as high quality a device as possible, which should eliminate incentive to create alternate versions, especially locked-down ones. Once the handset is available, he added, the Alliance will shift to being more like an open-source team setting a development road map.

Will Android be imported to the iPhone?

“We’re not paying any attention to existing devices,” Morrill answered, suggesting that’s it’s up to someone else to do that.

How does Google make money off Android?

Right now that’s not really a high priority, said Morrill. Instead, Android is strictly about getting an open platform out there.

What’s the maturity level of the SDK?

Very early load. “We’re not even calling it Alpha or Beta,” he said. They believe it’s more important to get developers working on it now.

How will they make sure applications don’t clash with each other?

From an architecture perspective, at the bottom of Android is a Linux kernel. Every application is installed onto a different user ID. Upshot: Two applications won’t have any permission to interact with each other (unless they’re specifically developed to do so).

Doesn’t the open platform model increase security risk with danger of malware, phishing programs, etc?

Morrill acknowledged that users will be exposed to a web-like risk level, more risk than they’re currently used to on the phone. However, he pointed to Android’s permissions infrastructure — every application will only access resources with the user’s specific permission.

8 Comments

Daniel

Great staff dude, If i could program, I will do an open source Android that users can download to their mobile phone and customise it, so everyone would have a different interface

stuart carlaw

It would probably be good to look at the Purple magic platform released by NXP before Mobile World Congrss. This incorporates a smartphone like Linux Os from Purple Labs and an RTOS solution (glued together by VirtualLogix)on a baseband process aimed at $100 3G handsets.

Linux will be the Os technology to drive smartphone functionality into low cost products – no doubt.

michaelportent

Android is really intriguing to me. I agree though, Tom. I really wish somebody would take up the banner by developing for budget-priced Smart Phones. Google seems the best candidate to tackle that task because all their other online tools are free.

H

I was just curious, while we may choose to have various applications not interacting with each other, in dead simple language how does android take care of synergizing applications or recalling. all said and done the security concerns are an opportunity.

thanks

tom

with every bit of news on android it sounds like the handsets are going more upmarket. what really lacks in the market are budget priced smart phones. i remember some of the very early speculation on google getting into smart phones was that they would develop a platform for phone that would sell for significantly less than windows or high-end symbian models. but ever since they are moving more up market. what we really need is a new line of bargain priced smart handsets.

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