Android SDK Released

We knew it was coming, and it’s now here. I haven’t looked at it too closely, but a few things I’ve noticed:

Yet another XML UI? Clearly it’s becoming a popular way to do things, but do we need so many? XUL, MXML, XAML, now Android? Surely there must be another way. XUL as a standard sadly never materialized.

There’s a mention of 3D libraries, but notes:

…the libraries use either hardware 3D acceleration (where available) or the included, highly optimized 3D software rasterizer…

We all know how well graphics drivers have historically been on Linux. Hopefully the embedded/mobile market will prove better than the desktop.

One thing I do wonder is all the variables. The platform seems to have a fair amount of potential, but there’s no real standard regarding what you can be assured will exist on a handheld (for example 3D acceleration) or even what restrictions might be imposed by the carrier (firmware lockdown). At least with the iPhone you know they all ship with certain CPU’s, graphic capabilities, etc. It’s a very predictable platform. Android reminds me a lot of programming for the PC, there’s a ton of variations out there on the web to account for. Even if most run the same OS. Mobile has the added complexity of carriers who are notoriously restrictive. I wonder if this will really change. This is why the web as a platform is so great. It overcomes most of these limitations.

In general I have to agree with most of what Robert Scoble says (vaporware, unimpressive UI, etc.) but it’s still very early on, and you can’t judge much based on this early preview. Right now, the iPhone is a clear winner, but I wouldn’t discount Android just yet.

My general feeling is that it’s too early to make much of a judgment. There many things that can happen in the next several months that can drastically alter the fate of Android for better or worse both business and tech wise.

The next key moment in the mobile landscape will be the release of the iPhone SDK due early next year.

Then there’s always the underdog OpenMoko.