Google Open Handset Alliance (OHA) is a group of 33 operators and manufacturers ranging from handset GUI’s to GPS chipsets to wireless carriers to actual handset manufacturers working with Google to make a massive change in the mobile phone industry. Their primary goal is not openness, even though that may seem like their main goal, no, it’s to make the best possible user experience available on a mobile device. They just prefer to do so with an open platform allowing just about anyone who wants to the chance to get in on the game.
Part of Google’s Open Handset Alliance, Android, is being developed as an open platform built on the open source Linux kernel, but for mobile devices. It’s currently in development, but the first fruits of the alliance’s labor should be available for download via a pre-mature SKD come Monday, November 12th, 2007. Sure, it will technically be an SDK, but the platform as a whole is still not complete, so even if you have little to no actual programming experience, your input could still be of use in finalizing the entire platform.
While not releasing any handsets or forming a carrier network, Android will still be a major factor among handset producers in the OHA. Google is working together with the OHA to provide useful libraries and tools that will be used to make rich applications. The OHA estimates that you won’t see any actual production model handsets using the OS until mid 2008 at the earliest. Although one might think that Android is being developed specifically for a device with a large screen and a QWERTY keypad, the OS that will be a bi-product of Android is being designed to be flexible enough to run on a flip phone should you choose to use it there. The only stated hardware requirement is at least a 200MHz ARM processor, and chances are, once more people get their hands on the SDK, someone might be able to figure out how to lower those requirements.
The best part of the whole Android platform is the application development. So usually you have major companies forming an oligarchy of mobile handset programming, but not so much with Android, anyone, even the girl next door, could be the person making the next great Android based mobile application. Furthermore, with Android’s roots deeply seeded within the Linux community, I can’t see it being too much of a problem porting a good number of the smaller Linux apps over for use on the Android platform.
So, if you have questions, something to share, code you need looked over or tested for the Android platform, or just want to be a part of a community that’s bound to grow quite rapidly, feel free to check out AndroidCommunity.com.