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Google Awards Android Dev Prizes, Introduces App Store 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-up-with-the-ijoneses dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A group of Canadian engineering students was one of 10 teams to win a $275,000 prize from internet search giant Google Inc. Their program, Ecorio, gives users the ability to reduce their environmental footprint with tools that provide transit options for trips, invest in carbon reduction projects, and share their tips with other users. Other winners included a taxi location app, a price comparison app, and a settings manager than changes your settings based on your location." Google has also started talking about their plans for Android Market, which is similar to the App store used for the iPhone. Ars Technica's coverage points out a blog post by Google's Eric Chu which notes that early handsets running Android will have a beta version of Android Market enabled.
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Google Awards Android Dev Prizes, Introduces App Store

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  • by jav1231 (539129)
    First app? Duke Nuken Forever!

    Hey, it's not like we've seen Android either...
  • and all that creativity, and they couldn't find "Slap a big enough tax on carbon, and move on to the next problem." I think they're putting the metaphorical cart before the metaphorical horse.

    • by smussman (1160103)
      You know, that's a great solution!

      While we're at it, why don't we have the UN tax genocides too. And that's only the beginning. Just think of all the problems we can solve this way!
      </sarcasm>
    • by BPPG (1181851)

      That's not a very creative solution at all. Even if there was an increased carbon tax, then carbon-reduction advice for individuals would still be in demand (even more so).

      • Not if -- as is probably the case -- the top 90% most efficient ways to reduce carbon emission occur before any end user ("consumer") actually makes a decision. (Tide shipping more concentrated solutions, Walmart reducing drag on trucks, products being shipped less distance, factories recycling waste heat and energy ...) And I guarantee that the stuff this device iunds isn't in the top 90%.

        Global warming alarmism has always been a rationale for micromanaging people's lives, not for finding the most efficie

      • by maxume (22995)

        Carbon coaches would be like life coaches. "Use less fuel." instead of "Go to work everyday." and "Buy the less expensive product." instead of "Don't spend more than your income."

  • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @10:53AM (#24810207) Homepage

    TFA talks a lot about the cathedral vs bazaar model, which I find to be sort of funny. Android supports downloading applications (.apk files) from wherever you want, although it's intended that the market be the primary place you get them. In this sense it's every bit as open as a Linux distribution.

    But wait. A typical Linux distribution doesn't actually support you adding other repositories or downloading packages from the web. Sure it might be technically possible, but you're going to encounter a lot of glitches, and if you ask the distro about that they'll just shrug and say it's your own fault for not using the official repositories.

    In fact, given that the Android Market is planned to support for-pay software as well as free-beer software, that makes it technically more open than a typical Linux distro, in which the only reliable way of getting your software to end users is to get the distributors to do it for you, and they usually insist on particular kinds of licensing. Doing it yourself is a good way to find yourself in distro-compatibility hell.

    (disclaimer: am a googler, but have no more info than the average slashdotter does on this)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by erikina (1112587)
      No. All linux distributions support it. It just needs to be packaged correctly, but as each individual distro is so obscure you'll fine that it's rare for it to be done (Although openSUSE build service may help in the future).

      So what you have, is people trying to install any old rpm on any rpm based distro and complaining it doesn't work or is not supported.

      The only difference here is going to be popularity.
      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @11:34AM (#24810609) Homepage

        No they don't support it. I've had many, many conversations with distributors over the years about this topic. It "works" simply because of the way the tools are constructed. But they provide absolutely no guarantees that your app won't break tomorrow with some update they push, and are completely unwilling to make any such guarantees. In fact it's even possible for you to break peoples systems by distributing software on your own.

        Trivial example of how things can go wrong, there's no namespacing in Linux. Let's say I make a game and call it Epiphany [sourceforge.net], then start distributing it outside the framework of the distributions. What sort of things could happen? Well, somebody else might make a web browser called Epiphany [gnome.org], which then might become a part of the base set of packages. What happens when the user tries to upgrade their distribution? Anything might happen, because you have two packages with the same name (or which both try to provide /usr/bin/epiphany).

        In the best case the upgrade will just break and the user will be stuck having to choose one of the two packages. But they can't have both.

        In the worst case, I decided not to fuck about with 10 different but somehow identical package management systems and used an autopackage or a Loki Installer. Almost all commercial software for Linux does this sort of thing. Now the package manager will just silently overwrite my game files with the web browser. It won't notify the user it's going to do this - it'll just uncleanly corrupt the game.

        So what's the solution? Back when I was involved in distribution of apps for Linux, the usual proposal was to put third party software in /usr/local rather than /usr. Unfortunately no distributor properly supports this prefix, and besides, it just moves the problem around rather than solve it. Sadly there actually isn't a solution for this on UNIX - it's fundamental to the design.

        You'll notice that Android doesn't use UNIX style directory trees or package management ... and this is probably one of the reasons why.

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Oh boy, here comes a rant.

          But they provide absolutely no guarantees that your app won't break tomorrow with some update they push, and are completely unwilling to make any such guarantees.

          NOBODY does. There's not a single OS vendor that does that, because it's impossible. If this is really what you're after, send me an e-mail when you buy that flying car.

          In fact it's even possible for you to break peoples systems by distributing software on your own.

          Like viruses? Why did you even type this sentence?

          In the

          • by LarsG (31008)

            Hi, Twitter. Forgot your login password or something?

            What you ignore is that most OS vendors give you fairly good guarantees on a stable API/ABI. That is, they are not going to rip out the current sound API because someone went all "Oooh shiny! Pulseaudio rawks!".

        • by cduffy (652)

          No they don't support it. I've had many, many conversations with distributors over the years about this topic. It "works" simply because of the way the tools are constructed. But they provide absolutely no guarantees that your app won't break tomorrow with some update they push, and are completely unwilling to make any such guarantees.

          That's not true. Distributions guarantee that they will support certain standards in terms of having a minimum number of common dependencies installed in specific locations --

          • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @03:53PM (#24812899) Homepage

            They guarantee a stable ABI for the lifetime of a particular release of their OS. That's useless, if there are 5 distros you want to support, and each one has 3 versions in common use (pretty conservative estimate) then that's 15 different builds of your program you need to produce, test and distribute. This is completely absurd and is one of the major reasons only the truly dedicated try to distribute binary software on Linux.

            • by cduffy (652)

              That's useless, if there are 5 distros you want to support, and each one has 3 versions in common use (pretty conservative estimate) then that's 15 different builds of your program you need to produce, test and distribute. This is completely absurd and is one of the major reasons only the truly dedicated try to distribute binary software on Linux.

              15 different builds? That is, indeed, completely absurd... if it were actually the case in practice.

              Those who are not "truly dedicated", as you put it, generally t

        • by Colin Smith (2679)

          Different purposes.

          Unix style directory trees are designed to operate efficiently over a lan. If you have a very limited number of applications and can guarantee that there will be no network hops involved, other structures can be used.

           

        • by zsau (266209)

          But they provide absolutely no guarantees that your app won't break tomorrow with some update they push, and are completely unwilling to make any such guarantees.

          They give no guarantee that when they upgrade one pice of software, other software they distribute won't break either. Distributions are pretty dodgy in the best case; the best you can do is use a so-called stable distribution for a months or years in the case of Debian, until it's no longer supported. God help you if the stable distribution doesn'

    • But wait. A typical Linux distribution doesn't actually support you adding other repositories or downloading packages from the web. Sure it might be technically possible, but you're going to encounter a lot of glitches, and if you ask the distro about that they'll just shrug and say it's your own fault for not using the official repositories.

      Why should anyone support software that is entirely outside of (distro) standards ? Glitches mainly show up when repository maintainers don't do their job correctly.

      • libflashsupport is a problem of the communities own making. There's absolutely no reason why the existing sound APIs (eg, libasound) can't be made to support the needed features but somebody decided to create yet another sound daemon. The fact that the Flash developers have better things to do with their lives than support this weeks sound daemon shouldn't surprise anybody, and has nothing to do with open vs closed source. It has to do with immature platform management. Open source apps will have the same p

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DECS (891519)

      The real story is that Google is introducing a new consumer-oriented platform with no software distribution security in place, particularly a problem on a mobile platform. It had a great opportunity to develop something that was both secure and open, and blew it. By taking the easy route, it also blew any chance of competing with Apple.

      The iPhone has a strict, secured Apps Store and a DIY-at your own risk jailbreak community. Google only has an official DIY-AYOR model for distribution based on YouTube. The

  • by bigtallmofo (695287) * on Saturday August 30, 2008 @10:54AM (#24810217)
    Their program, Ecorio, gives users the ability to reduce their environmental footprint with tools that provide transit options for trips, invest in carbon reduction projects, and share their tips with other users.

    I invented a diesel engine that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and plays an airhorn reminding people to turn out their lights when not in use. I'm now seriously considering throwing out my current cell phone so I can buy an Android-enabled phone so I can run Ecorio and find out how I can be more environmentally responsible.
  • Oh yeah, Google will be quick on that one. There is no way The Goog is going to watch Apple's App Store make a million dollars a day and rake in a cool BILLION dollars [money.co.uk] in revenue next year and not respond.

    As a marketing consultant, I can appreciate how easy the App Store relieves people of their burdensome credit. Just fire up the App Store on the iPhone, select one of the thousands of apps, and press the BUY button. Voila, your pre-authorized credit card is charged with a sale. And you get emailed an in
  • Where can I download the Google powered brain implant?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @11:33AM (#24810581) Homepage Journal

    Android software would be much more available if it were served to machines from Debian (or Ubuntu) style APT [wikipedia.org] repositories, rather than Apple style "App Stores". Not just because free software is basically more popular and available than $pay software. But also because anyone can set up an APT repo, and anyone can point their machine at it. The machines ship with a list of tested/approved repos, but the machine's admins can easily add/delete from that list. They can even make their own local repo, or one shared among a user group or developer group, or a website of fanboys.

    These repos make SW deployment trivial, even with complex interdependencies (though with some exceptions when the repos and packages are managed badly). Simple, reliable SW management is perhaps Debian-style OS'es best feature, and even more important on something like a mobile "phone", that's supposed to be super-simple for even the lightest weight users to master without thinking too hard.

    Since Android is supposed to be a major OSS platform, I hope it quickly gets a F/OSS repo system that all its users can easily use if they want. Because that would kill the "all-proprietary only" SW model that phones now support.

    • by dark42 (1085797)

      This is exactly how Cydia works on the iPhone.
      It is an iPhone front-end to APT, and a much better alternative to the closed-source Installer.app.

    • Much as I hate much of the interface on the Nokia 770, this is one thing it does well. The installer app is just a front-end to apt. It has the standard repositories configured when you install it, but it lets you add others. It warns you that you don't get Nokia support when you install things that aren't from their repositories, but apart from that it just works. Apps all get update through the same interface, whether they come from Nokia or a third party. Of course, it doesn't have a mechanism for p
    • Google's position with Android is fantastic but how far can they really go? Open in the cell phone world is not really open. Will the Big Telcos allow unlimited tethering with current $30 data plans (T-Mobile 3g)? Will they allow voip apps provided via the 'free' market place to be downloaded to the phones? Will big Telcos like Sprint and Verizon limit or virtually cripple the devices loaded with Android like they do all their other devices (Think Sprint and bluetooth, games, apps e.t.c)? Only time wil
  • Man, I was really excited for an android market - how shocked I was when it was just a software store. My android still needs gyroscopes
  • It'll be interesting to see how this competition for the mobile market shapes up between Apple and Google. Obviously Apple has a much larger vested interest in the mobile market, but ANY competition is generally good for the consumer.
  • I wonder they create a special Ubuntu edition for Android.
    • by fsmunoz (267297)
      Androbuntu? Like, Ubuntu but for real men? Now that's probably an untapped market (although there is Debian).
      • Androbuntu? Like, Ubuntu but for real men? Now that's probably an untapped market (although there is Debian).

        No, Ubuntroid. Although, actually, that sounds more like some kind of medical condition.

  • Here I thought they were gonna start a robotics-component market. What's this "handheld phone" business?
  • that sells androids, or leases them for housework and menial tasks such as xenomorph elimination, offworld mining and/or colonization, or act as overlords (with whip and monocle to match) for some particular breed of basement dweller, my lawyers would have to meet with Google's about other names that Google could come up with, to name their application.

  • Now we just need a decent phone to run them on.

  • Since Google SMS does not offer an easy way to give feedback on their product pages they will hear my gripes here. In the past ~3 weeks I have noticed changes in their SMS search results -- FOR THE M-U-C-H WORSE!

    Google SMS
    ==========

    * [lowes in 11219] -> Google SMS had formerly understood a search request *within* a specific neighborhood in NYC. It spat out appropriate guesses like: If you meant Lowe's near Brooklyn NY here are results 1, 2 and 3 over two SMS messages. It was fuzzy and accurate. It worked

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