Android Ecosystem — This Week in Android


android-gesturesWelcome to our newest Monday feature — Android Ecosystem! With so many handsets arriving this quarter, it’s getting difficult to decide which is the “best” Android device out there. We’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating that fragmentation of the Android market is oddly reminiscent of the Windows Mobile space. The key difference in my mind — Google has a business model that supports getting its services on as many devices as possible due to search and ads. The more Android devices out there, the more ad impressions offered by Google, not to mention more search preference data added to the algorithms. Search is the currency of Google and that’s what subsidizes their services. In any case, I’m considering a new Android device in the near future, which is what got me thinking about the similarities. Most of the handsets now offer little variances like custom user interfaces or slightly different form factors. It was far easier to pick an Android handset last year. ;)

We’re also seeing Android find its way to various carriers here in the U.S., which is great news for customers. Although I hope this isn’t used that much, Android developers can now target their applications for specific carriers, say the AndroidGuys. It’s bad enough that we have to choose hardware by carrier — I really don’t want specific apps to potentially influence my decision too. I’m really hoping this flexibility was created for carrier-brand apps and won’t be commonly used outside of that situation. It would just be a rude gesture. Speaking of which…

Android SDK 1.6 supports gestures! There’s a gesture API in the new SDK that allows developers to leverage and program screen gestures. Near as I can tell, an application using the gesture API is scored to see how well it represents a gesture from the pre-determined library. I haven’t yet seen any apps that are utilizing this yet — it is fairly new — but I’m looking forward to seeing what developers will create with this functionality. Well designed UIs with buttons are nice, but those buttons take up space.

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