Developers got their first crack at Googles Android mobile platform Nov. 12 when Google and its Open Handset Alliance released the Android software development kit to let programmers begin building applications for the software stack.
The SDK comes one week after Google and its alliance partners unveiled the Android platform as an alternative to mobile stacks from Microsoft, Symbian and other operating systems.
Google needs programmers to start building software if it wants to get its mobile strategy off of the ground.
Googles goal is to provide a richer experience for mobile users, which it wants to eventually target with social networking services and other offerings in front of which the search giant plans to place online ads.
Built on top of the Linux 2.6 kernel, the Android SDK includes an operating system, libraries a Web browser user interface and a set of phone applications. The Android platform also includes the Dalvik virtual machine to boost application performance, portability and security, addressing some of the primary concerns high tech experts have with mobile software.
Click here to read more about Android, Googles mobile software.
Users will be able to procure the entire platform under the Apache Version 2 open-source license in 2008.
To start coding, developers must download the Android SDK to an x86-based computer running Windows XP or Vista, Mac OS 10.4.8 or later, or Linux Ubuntu Dapper Drake or later.
Developers will also need Eclipse 3.2 or later, with Java Development Tools and the Android SDKs plug-in, or Java and Javac 1.5 or 1.6; Apache Ant; an integrated development environment; and Python 2.2 or later.
To spur developers on, Google, of Mountain View, Calif., threw down the Android Developer Challenge, which pledges a total of $10 million to developers who build mobile applications for Android.
Cash prizes from $25,000 to $275,000 will be awarded to developers whose applications are picked by a panel of judges.
Indeed, no one is questioning the seriousness of Googles intentions in the mobile space, which some Internet experts hail as the next multi-billion-dollar battleground for online ads.
Read more here about analysts discussing Googles mobile challenges.
But what is less certain is how far Google will go to ensure its success in offering software and services on handheld gadgets. Will Google offer a mobile phone? Will the company bid on spectrum? These questions regularly spark conversation.
The latest rumor is that Google could acquire Sprint in the wake of the collapse of the phone providers high-speed wireless deal with ClearWire.
Assuming Google lives up to its promise and bids for spectrum in January, Sprint would give Google the infrastructure it needs to compete in the wireless market.
For now, programmers will have to be content with building applications for the Android SDK.
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