Tim Bray wants to learn how developers approach the Android platform. Pouring disproportionate effort into things that don’t matter and don’t make money is what Tiggers do best, so I lost the entire morning agitating a few quick notes into an essay that would then swallow my lunch break for rewording. But hey, free blog post, right?
Greetings Mr. Bray,
I enjoyed your post about how you’ve joined Google to promote Android. I’m watching with interest as the platform improves, but I still can’t imagine myself spending any time on Android development. Here’s why:
This one’s probably the most ridiculous, so I’ll get it out of the way. Java makes the Android feel more accessible to many coders, but I decided long ago that I’m not going to learn this era’s diploma homework. I’m stubborn, idealistic, and I’m going to stick with C++ as the only language bureaucracy I navigate. Can I develop for Android without learning Java or dealing with bloated Eclipse?
Surely the Nexus Two will fix the spacebar issue, just like the Nexus One fixed the Droid’s issues and the Droid fixed the “Android sucks” issue. But seeing the ugly little plus and minus zoom buttons in Maps was a huge shocker. It made me realize just how much multitouch matters. I’m glad Google is finally starting to step up in this area, but am worried the trend has been set for interfaces cluttered for finger-as-stylus, rather than direct manipulation.
I’ve only seen Android phones in the hands of Windows power users. Others try Android devices but get fed up with the platform’s overall sloppiness and leave. Who stays? It’s great that some people love rooting their open source phones, but I’m worried my carefully considered interface simplifications will be a liability in that kind of Android Marketplace.
I don’t want to pour my life story into Google Calendar, Google Reader, Google Docs, Google Picasa, Google Mail, Google Finance, Google Health, Google Politics, Google Faith… just to keep my laptop in sync with my pocket. What’s really worse: a centralized developer app store, or a centralized user data store?
HTML5 / iPad
I’m young in the Mac development world, but waving goodbye as all the Xcoders board boats they’ll burn on the shores of the App Store. The iPad’s siren call has already lured back many who had gotten fed up with iPhone development. Despite being a compiled code, native API, local data junkie, I’m being driven towards HTML5 to avoid being left behind. There are many exciting things going on in HTML that make it viable for even anti-centralized apps. If Android gets sued into oblivion or Windows Mobile-ed into irrelevance, then Chrome OS is the future in a nutshell.
I write shareware and do contract work to scratch a living in rural WA. (When I say rural, I don’t mean “a suburb with trees”. I mean, corn and cows and lousy internet.) Given all the other points above, paying $529 just to kick the Android tires is a bad investment, especially when I could permanently lease one of Steve’s Safari Pads for thirty dollars less.