Whether it’s providing users access to the cloud, the enterprise and its secure environment, or going international with its localization capability, sending back time-sensitive health data or proving a means for developers to monetize their applications, Android is making it happen. Here are the top five things Android provides for developers to help them do their jobs easier.
Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM)
This framework has the potential to enable a new breed of applications for the platform. C2DM is a service that makes it possible for developers to push data from their servers to their applications on Android devices. The service provides a simple, lightweight mechanism that servers use to tell mobile applications to contact the server directly in order to acquire updated application or user data.
C2DM manages message queuing and delivery to the target application running on the target device. How it works: Third-party application servers send lightweight messages to their Android applications. The message tells the application that there is new data on the server. The application then fetches it. The application has full control of what to do with the message; for example, it could post a notification, display a custom user interface, or silently sync data. It requires devices running on Android 2.2 or higher with the Android Market app running, but there is no need to deploy the app to the Android Market.
C2DM is currently available in Labs, but Google said it will be available to all developers in the future.
Android is global
Android can handle localization; developers can add localized resources to projects and use Android APIs to write products that will succeed in the global market. Mobile applications like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla are compelling apps for device users, and there’s never been a hotter development space to be in.
To reach the most users, the application should handle text, audio files, numbers, currency and graphics in ways common to the locations where it will be used. Android can create different resource sets for different locations. When the application runs, Android will load the appropriate resource set that matches the device’s location. If locale-specific resources are unavailable, Android will revert to the default setting. Localized apps can be tested using the emulator.
Android can be integrated in the enterprise
The Android platform is a major player in the mobile space. However, it requires apps to be written in Java. With the introduction of Novell’s MonoDroid, C# and .NET developers can now leverage platforms and tools like Microsoft Visual Studio, which they know, to write Android applications for phones and tablets for the largely Microsoft-centric enterprise environment.
Mono for Android consists of the core Mono runtime, bindings for native Android APIs, a Visual Studio 2010 plug-in to develop Android applications, and an SDK that contains all the tools needed to build, debug and deploy applications. The MonoDroid site contains road maps, tutorials, forums and more.
In addition to the Android SDK found on the Android Developers portal, other Android developer tools are available to build enterprise-friendly apps, including Adobe Flex, Black Duck and SQL Anywhere.
Android apps can raise revenue on their own
Android Licenser.com and Android Market make it easy to monetize apps. Android Licenser.com charges a one-time fee to sell an app instead of 30% of every sale.
How does it work? It’s a two-step process. First, the developer provides the application’s .apk file, along with his or her Google Checkout or PayPal credentials. Android Licenser sets up a store front where users can pay for the application. Once payment is accepted, the developer keeps 100% of the revenue.
Whenever a customer makes a payment in the developer’s store, they are given a private download link. Sales proceeds are deposited directly into the Google Checkout/PayPal merchant account. Android Licenser recommends integrating the Android Licenser client library into the application to prevent piracy.
Android Market is another option. It offers a licensing service that lets developers enforce licensing policies for paid applications that are published through Android Market. The service is free and can be utilized via the SDK library. It is available to all developers who publish on Android Market.
Android’s more sensitive than most
Cameras, microphones, and orientation and temperature sensors are all tools seen as commonplace for smartphones, but Android sensors are shining in some not-so-usual ways. Researchers, led by Edmund Seto from UC Berkeley, equipped users’ clothing and bodies with a mesh of multiple sensors known as “smart dust,” which report to an Android-powered phone. They have pioneered a means to deliver always-on medical monitoring.
Their work has allowed them to measure how much test subjects exercise, their heart condition, and even how much air pollution they’re exposed to. Two types of sensors were used: The TelosB, about the size of a USB thumb drive and is powered by a Texas Instruments processor; and Intel’s SHIMMER sensor, which weighs about 15 grams and runs the TinyOS operating system, designed for remote sensors.