There had been a lot of controversies on whether Android is actually as open as Linux or if Google is just playing a game by saying it is open and keeping everything under its and its OEM phone maker’s control.
Well! if you ask me, I would say it is absolutely open. And when compared to iOS, it’s as open as the sky. And below I am trying to explain why is it so.
Developing an App
Both iOS and android provides you the complete SDK for developing new apps. The difference is, With Apple you have to spend some bucks for buying the developers license, and for Android, it’s absolutely free. But yes, I know here we are not debating free or paid. We are debating, open or closed.
So, give me a way by which you can legally develop, then use or sell an iOS App! Buy the SDK, develop the app, host it on market place. Correct? Well no harm in that.
But let’s assume that I am not a developer, and neither I want to make money out of Apple iStore. But I am a tech enthusiast and have a great idea for a simple app. And I want to make and flaunt it among my fellas. And I don’t want to spend for the Apple’s Developers License for such a simple app. What do I do? Nothing, correct?
But, with Android, you can just go on, Download the SDK for free and start coding. And once the app is done, all you need is to enable the option in your android device which says, “Unknow Sources”, under “Application Settings”. And that’s it. Install the .apk file, mail it to your friends, host it on your blog and so on. Isn’t that the essence of open enough? What else you are looking for. And mind it, doing this will not void your warranty.
Oh, yes I do remember, I have said “if you are not a developer”. So if you are actually not a developer then how do you code? Great question.
Heard of App Inventor? As always, it’s yet another beta from Google labs. But it’s something to look forward for. This application makes sure that if you have a logic or an idea about an App, you can build your app without a single line of coding. All you need to do is to do some jigsaw puzzle and that’s it!!
In this application, the Android events, APIs, conditions, and functions are pre created and arranged as blocks of jigsaw puzzle, in such a way that only logically correct block can fit to the other block. See below the screenshot of making such a simple applications to get stock quotes from Yahoo Finance
And once you are done with the app, you can test it on a web emulator or on your phone, Then just download the .apk file. Share/Sell it on Android Market Place or just email it to your girlfriend (Well that might not be a good app for her though, try the “miss you” app rather) ,
Oh this even looks too complex to you? Then try this. http://www.appsgeyser.com/
This website lets you build an Android App on the fly from any website (or part of a website), RSS, HTML Widgets, etc. or convert a mobile site into an App.
All you have to do is to simply go to this website, and select if you want to create your app using a widget code (html or java script), or you want to grab a portion of any website, or you want a complete mobile website. Once done, a wizard will let you put basic information like your name, app name, custom icon for the app, etc and you are done.
Here is a simple App which syncs and updates the headlines from from HT’s website every hour. It took me hardly 10 minutes to create this
And not to forget, the rooting (soft and hard) capability on Android which is not restricted as in the case of Apple. And the beauty is, once you root your Android you can actually get a Super User Linux console with around 140 regular Linux commands.
The bad thing about this is that, you can brick your phone in minutes by just putting some wrong command in wrong place. But the good thing is that, you get the complete control on your phone and can do whatever you want. An example could be allowing connecting to an Ad-Hoc Access Point for wifi which is by default restricted in Android devices. But can be turned on from the terminal in minutes. And there could be so many such usages you can do. And that’s what I call as Open!
Next I will be talking about how to play around with the Linux which runs at the heart of Android. and some cool hacks!!