Posts tagged phone
Posts tagged phone
You can write this down: the new Droid RAZR is Android’s answer to the iPhone 4S. It’s the form-factor revolution most were expecting of the “iPhone 5.” It’s as desirable — or more — than any iPhone or BlackBerry while innovating on several fronts.
Keep in mind this is a phone for the masses, not for Android developers or “geeks.” It’s a status symbol just like the first RAZR.
Yes, it lacks Ice Cream Sandwich but an update can fix that. What it adds to the game is much more meaningful:
You’ll see this phone in best-seller lists this Holiday season, even if you can’t replace the battery or play with the bootloader. It’s the first DROID all over again and a huge step forward in smartphone engineering and design.
It’s amazing how quickly Android evolved. Updating this post for June 2010 — it was originally written in Dec. 2009 — is actually a lot more work than I expected :)
Like in Stanley Kubrick’s classic, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, certain life-changing events cannot be stopped or ignored. You simply need to accept the fact that the world will eventually end thanks to a madman strapped to the back of a nuclear bomb.
You can’t ignore market-defining gadgets like Apple’s iPhone either. However, if the growing pains of iPhone game development are cramping your style, you still have a choice: Android. This blog will tell you why in 3 easy steps:
Without further ado, let’s now take a quick look at the origins – and development – of Android.
Congrats! It’s a robot
Android was born a Linux-based operating system and announced to the world Nov. 5, 2007 as core component of the Open Handset Alliance. Google’s idea was to supply a top-of-the-line OS for free in order to expand the reach and penetration of web-savvy smartphones.
After all, mobile Google searches = more ads = more $$$ in Google’s pockets.
The OS evolved quickly: from the messy, unpolished 1.0 release — 0.8 really — to Android 2.2, which includes features like official Apps2SD, wireless tethering and a 2X to 3X performance jump.
If you remember 2008, the first cell phone powered by Android was the HTC Dream, sold on the U.S. as the T-Mobile G1 (I own one, BTW. I call it a collectible, but it’s really obsolete by now). By October 2009, there were only four Android-powered phones in the U.S. Today, all major cell providers in the U.S. sell Android phones — even AT&T. We’re talking multiple models per carrier, high-end, mid range and low-end. Android is everywhere.
As of June 2010, Android is now seen as the lone adversary to Apple’s iPhone. A famed comScore survey has 17 percent of those currently in the market for a cell phone thinking Android, versus 20 percent for the iPhone. That’s an eye-opening number. Among tech connoisseurs, many see Microsoft quickly fading into obscurity with the obsolete Windows Mobile 6.5, Symbian stalling, RIM keeping their territory on the corporate side of things (and expanding to certain consumer segments) and Android going for Apple’s throat in no uncertain terms.
Despite the impressive growth, many fail to see Android as just another gaming platform, like the Nintendo DS and now, iOS4 (iPhone / iPod Touch) before it. If you see it as a platform, you’re taking the first steps to make the best of it – and maybe even make money.
If the iPhone is over-crowded and Apple’s approval process sucks, why not give Android the old college try?
iPhone: King of the World
The iPhone. It transformed the industry in a way just matched by the first Macintosh computer back in 1984. It dazzled techies all over the world at MacWorld 2007, when Steve Jobs himself made the now-classic pitch “an Internet communicator, an iPod and a phone.” A gorgeous cell phone simply (and aptly) named iPhone.
After the iPhone launch, nothing was ever the same in the mobile industry.
We all talk about the iPhone’s staggering library of more than 225,000 apps. It’s a big number and the reason why so many flock to the iPhone. Furthermore, Apple turned the iPhone into a successful gaming platform, reversing the trend seen in previous products (other than the ill-fated Pippin, the Apple II was the last “gaming friendly” Apple product).
Everyone and their uncle LOVES to buy games for their iPhone. It’s a convenient, fun process. And a profitable one as well: Apple has made billions on the iPhone’s surprising gaming capabilities. It helps that a powerful GPU is included in every iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4 and even iPhone/iPhone 3G are at-least 3D capable (in the 3 to 4 million polygons range). As Sony’s PSP Go flounders and the DS ages gracefully, millions of would-be gamers – casual gamers – and even the core crowd have flocked to Steve Job’s favorite offspring.
However, like everything in life, gaming on the iPhone has its dark side:
There’s no “quick fix” to any of these problems. Apple is rebuilding the App Store and iTunes, but can do little to “limit” new releases, other than vetoing bad games on technicalities. In regard to a physical keyboard, the iPhone will never have one: that’s just not the way Apple does things. Piracy can be combated with in-game downloads and DRM, but not all developers are willing to go this far.
As profitable and popular as the iPhone is, its flaws still mean death to hundreds of indie developers vying to make a living on high-quality iPhone games. It’s a tough place to be right now, with no clear solution in sight.
The Android Invasion Cometh
I mentioned before that my G1 aged quite suddenly due to Android’s furious evolution. It’s true; the 528 MHz processor & 192MB of RAM can barely keep pace with browsing the Internet, having Twidroid open in the background, the occasional podcast playing off DroidLive and a phone call. It freezes from time to time or simply hangs on the “Home Screen of Death” – when your icons take 10 seconds to suddenly – and magically – appear after hitting Home.
When all is said and done, I still like Android. I like the fact that any app can be installed on the phone, either from the web or from the Android Market. I like the trusting, Linux-like “you can do it” approach taken by Google on the OS’s design. Most of all, I like playing games on my phone.
But games are still not Android’s forte. Let’s remedy that:
Make games for Android before it’s too late
There are thousands of well-intentioned, free games on Android. Sadly, many of them are not very good. The OS’s saving grace are the many classic console emulators – paid emulators – embraced by those in need of a healthy dose of hardcore gaming.
The lack of quality games is my main argument for developers to embrace Android. Less competition. Did you hear that? Around 70,000 apps, total, instead of 250,000. Think of the possibilities.
Make sure your games run on T-Mobile’s handsets. They’ll be easier to buy and probably lead to better sales
Android detractors complain, with reason, that buying games on the OS is much harder than it should be. Google Checkout is cumbersome to the point that many simply never buy games, clearly no match for Apple’s seamless iTunes billing. Things are slowly changing, though: T-Mobile now allows sales to be added directly to each customer’s monthly bill. This is why app sales on T-Mobile handsets are about to explode – including those with next-gen phones like the Samsung Vibrant.
Start development NOW. Storage is a non-issue with Android 2.2
Another negative of Android development is the limited storage for games. Yes, we all know that having only 256MB for storage – like the Droid – is a joke near the iPhone’s 800MB-ish Myst port. We can all agree that’s a big flaw in the architecture of the entire system. Here’s why Google did it this way: they were afraid of piracy. They decided to prevent apps from being fully installed to the SD card to prevent users from doing the same thing they do on the iPhone. You can put most of your files – the large texture packages, sounds, etc – on the SD card but not the entire app. And you’ll suffer a performance penalty as well. Fear not, my friend: official Apps2SD functionality is now a reality with Froyo (Android 2.2). You should have started developing your game like, yesterday.
Approval on Android will make you sleep better at night
Google’s approval process is painless when compared to Apple. Even if you ignore all my other arguments, this one is a no-brainer.
3D kicks a** on Android
And finally, 3D performance. The GPU on next-generation Android phones (Motorola Droid X, Samsung Galaxy S) will have a similar (or superior, in some cases) performance envelope than the current GPU on the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 4. We’re talking more than 90 million polygons per second. We’re entering first-gen Xbox territory here with hardware antialiasing andOpenGL ES 2.0. You’ll be able to push the envelope like never before — in a cell phone no less.
It’s a tough world out there. I’m not suggesting ditching the iPhone. Nothing further from the truth – developers should embrace both.
Comment away :)