I’ve been a long-time Google fanboy, and quite frankly, they have all my personal data. They have my calendar, all of my e-mails, all of my search history, most of my documents, some of my code, my website statistics, RSS feeds, and most of everything else. In my spare time, I enjoy YouTube and chat with friends on Google Talk. (In fact, I refuse to use anything except Google Talk and Skype.)
So for me, the Android platform is amazing. I was recently given an awesome Motorola Xoom tablet running Android 3.1. I was very skeptical about tablets before this — I mean, what are they really good for? They don’t have a screen as big as my monitor for watching video, they don’t have a keyboard good enough for serious typing, they aren’t phones, and they don’t work particularly well for note-taking. However, what niche they really fill, I realized, is convenience.
For example, I play my music via a client-server system called MPD (Music Player Daemon). Basically, the client and music playing services are decoupled, and you can connect to the daemon remotely. Sure enough, there are a dozen MPD clients written for Android. So I can be lounging in my living room with my computer in the corner, open my Android MPD client, select what tracks I want to play in a rich GUI, and have my more powerful sound system play it.
So imagine the time when rich, touch based interfaces are simply lying around everywhere and you have these powerful quick utility, always-on devices on hand. In the not too distant future, we can be sitting in our smart homes and thinking about how the lights are just not romantic enough. We’d reach over to the table beside our couch, press a button on our tablet, and have the lights be dimmed. Or perhaps we’d change our air conditioner settings by dragging a slider rather than fighting with an irritating 3-button 8-bit interface that desperately wants to confuse you.
There’s a lot of potential for tablets being convenient interfaces to these low-level devices or services. In the air conditioner example, air conditioner manufacturers would love to cut costs by designing devices that just have a simple api rather than a complex physical user interface. You would plug your air conditioner controller to your tablet via USB. There, a wizard would guide you through setting up the controller with the wireless network information. Then, you unplug your tablet. The air conditioner controller connects to the wireless, where it is discovered with a zero-conf system on the network. You open your tablet’s air conditioner application and suddenly have a simple, rich interface to use. On a tablet, it’s very easy to program a rich interface. In a small, cheap electronic gadget like an ac controller, it’s pretty complex and hard to do. This separation of tasks is great for both users as well as manufacturers.
Android’s a very promising platform that’s backed by one of my favourite companies, using all the technology that I’m already familiar with. I’m really excited about where it’ll go next, and to see how deeply we integrate these new-age devices into our lives in the forthcoming years. With that said, I really need to finish learning how to develop for the system. It seems like it’s right up my alley — being Java and Linux.
“Why not iPad!?” some may shout. Because we deserve better, as a species, than to be forever in the hands of Apple, like we have been in the hands of Microsoft. Open platforms, like open standards, are better grounds for innovation and overall advancement than closed systems. This is why Linux is quickly growing in share, why IBM’s open-hardware architecture won, and why HTML 5 is so much more promising that Flash ever was.
Since my old phone died, I got a new android phone!
but I even won’t wait for that – will buy it as soon as possible. it’s so great!
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