[sclug] OT: Two weeks with the HTC Hero and Android OS

David Given dg at cowlark.com
Fri Feb 12 21:08:31 UTC 2010

Hash: SHA1

On 12/02/10 15:01, Alex Butcher wrote:
> The
>   SDK is available for Windows, MacOS X and Linux
>   <http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html>

I do development on it (among other mobile OSs) for a living, and
Android is the least nasty mobile phone OS I've ever worked with. The
Java APIs are clean and well-designed, and the tools Just Work --- write
your program, press the 'run' button in Eclipse, and it'll launch an
emulator, run your app, and stop on a breakpoint; plug in your phone by
USB, press the run button again, and it'll find the phone, deploy the
app, run it, and stop on the breakpoint. It's an order of magnitude
better than the trainwreck that is Windows Mobile, and about *three*
orders of magnitude better than the slowly cooling planet-sized cloud of
vapour that used to by Symbian [*].

The Java engine is slow, but it's fast enough for most normal purposes;
you won't want to do number-crunching on it but as most apps just wire
together existing components written in C, that's not a problem. The
native development kit deliberately has restricted functionality as all
it's intended for is spot optimisation of numeric code --- image
processing, and the like.

The APIs are lovely, and very data-centric (apps are structured as MVC,
and exporting your model for use by other apps is so trivial it's
actually harder *not* to export them). However the interface between
Java and the C implementation is not, and there are a lot of rough
edges. Nobody will notice this unless you're doing hairy low-level stuff
like we are. But there *is* a bug that means that EGL and OpenGL more or
less only works by accident...

>   It's silkscreened as Class 2 (2MByte/s), but I've benchmarked it reading
>   at 10MByte/s and writing at 1MByte/s. I suspect they just buy whatever's
>   cheapest on the spot market, and sometimes it'll be faster.

That is *seriously* slow. I've never seen any SD card slower than class
4, and most big stuff these days is class 6.

OTOH given that Android doesn't store apps on the SD card and only uses
it for heavy data hauling, I doubt that it would matter here.

[*] I once spent three days --- literally, *three days* --- trying to
figure out how to store an array of strings in Symbian without leaking
memory. *shudder*

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