Google Launches Apps-for-Android with Wiki

A Google programmer builds a wiki application for Android providing a template for future productivity applications on the mobile platform.

Now that Google has released its Android mobile operating system stack, the fun part is developing applications to run on it.

A Google software programmer has created Apps-for-Android, an open-source project released under the Apache 2.0 license to share sample applications for the Android platform.

Apps-for-Android launched March 4 with a collaboration application, WikiNotes for Android, a personal wiki that users may access from a smart phone or other Web-enabled mobile devices to link notes or Web pages.

Dick Wall, a Google developer advocate for Android, wrote in a March 4 blog post that WikiNotes for Android uses a regular expression to match WikiWords and turn them into links that fire "intents" to go to other notes.

The application will also create links out of telephone numbers that take users to the dialer and URLs that start up the browser.

Similar to other wikis, WikiNotes enables search by title and content and has a view mode and an edit mode. In view mode, users may navigate to other notes, or to the dialer and a Web browser. Users can switch to edit view to makes changes thanks to a menu entry and keyboard shortcut.

Wall said WikiNotes for Android was written to demonstrate a number of concepts in Android. These include multiple activities in an application, using intents within an application and to use an activity within another application and the registration of REST-like URIs to match titles and do contents search.

"The application remains small in size and features to make it easy to understand," Wall wrote. "In time, more features will be added to the application to make it more useful, but a sample version with the minimal functionality will always be available for developers new to the Android platform."

Kicking off Apps-for-Android with a wiki application makes sense. Google's goal with Android is to replicate the relatively clean, efficient experience users have accessing applications from a PC on a mobile device such as a smart phone.

This has universal appeal, but on the business side Google is investing a lot of time and resources making its Apps run well on mobile devices such as an Apple iPhone or RIM BlackBerry.

Unless Google can demonstrate the same quality of its Apps running on an Android-based device as it does on an iPhone, Android will potentially fail as a platform.

WikiNotes, even as a lightweight application, could be the template for the type of productivity applications that Google, and other programmers, are likely to produce in the future.