Samsung Android Phone, big news, but not for Canada

The news on the Android blogs is that the Samsung Phone is going to be coming out. This is pretty huge news, since this is the first non-HTC Android Phone. For those people who don’t like HTC phones, this sounds like an awesome phone to get for your Android needs.

However, here’s the problem. It’s built for the T-Mobile network, and the T-Mobile network is incompatible with other North American networks, and as such, will not work in Canada. That means that if you own the new Samsung Android Phone, you will be stuck with the EDGE network, and it also means that once again Canadian Developers pretty much are stuck with the Blackberry and the iPhone.

The issue is simple, Wireless in Canada still sucks. We had a spectrum auction not too long ago, and because the big three own the towers, the new entrants are having a hard time entering the market. This in some cases keeps obsolete technologies prominent, and makes it so that being barely competent at running infrastructure can give you a competitive advantage over the entire smart phone market.

I was really hopeful that the Samsung phone would be a phone that works on the 1900 Mhz 3G network that Rogers currently offers, but instead works on the 1700/2100 network. This means that the Canadian market is still stuck in some weird infancy. I am disappointed that I still can’t buy an Android phone at any mobile provider in Canada, and that it’s still like the ill-fated openmoko up here.

Going to Google IO and Android 1.5

First, I’m going to be going down to SF for the week for the Google IO dev conference. Since it is going to be the biggest event of the year for Android, and since I’m working on the PhoneGap Android port, I figure that I’d head down to it and check it out. I’m also going to be going to MakerFaire as well, and I plan to check out NoiseBridge, the local hackerspace in SF as well. If you’re at any of these events or places, and want to meet up, please let me know.

Secondly, I decided to give the Open Source Cupcake Branch a new test drive. A while back, I compiled what was in the Open Source repo and tested out the “Cupcake”, and overall wasn’t impressed with the responsiveness of the User Interface. Given the fact that there will be more devices, such as the HTC Magic and later a part of the Samsung Omnia line of phones, I thought that putting Cupcake on the ADP1 was like putting a V6 in a Model T.

What else is interesting is the decoupling of the Google API and the Android Core. For people who have been running Android Open Source builds on actual devices and using them, it seems that Android + Google is a different target, and practically a different product than what lives in the Open Source repositories. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that the Call Stack breaks more often on the Open Source builds. It’s really unfortunate that I can’t actually use the Open Source build for day to day calls, but Cupcake is looking pretty good, and Google IO should be interesting.

PhoneGap Android – Looking for Contributors

Today is a pretty huge day for PhoneGap. We released the Simualtor and the Android version of the PhoneGap demo. However, we need your help.

PhoneGap is an Open Source Project. This week, we have been working to put parts of the HTML 5 spec onto the Android version of PhoneGap, and we have currently implemented the following:

  • Geolocation – Currently supports Latitude and Longitude
  • Accelerometer – Gets the X, Y and Z variables from the Accelerometers
  • Notification – Plays the Notification Sound and Vibrates

We are hoping to do more with the device, and to help get it up to speed, we are looking for more contributors. This week, we will be merging these changes back into the Android branch, and we will be pushing this code back up to the blessed repository. If you are interested in contributing to PhoneGap, please contact us.

PhoneGap Demo Application – The First 24 Hours

Right now Andre is down at the Web2Expo, and is going to be presenting PhoneGap. The past couple of days, I’ve been working on the PhoneGap application, and I had to get it to Andre (I did a recent fix to Accelerometer, making it more in line with the new API). I signed the app and posted it here, however that didn’t work for Andre to get it on the phone. Andre then said to post it to the Android Market, and I did, even though I know that Beep does not work.

Why beep didn’t work until this morning:

Well, anyone who says that Java doesn’t have NullPointerExceptions is LYING! The whole concept of PhoneGap is to use Javascript to gain access to the APIs. However, there is an issue that I kept running into with the latest version of Android when adding APIs, and that is that WebKit often throws an exception on certain methods or interfaces (like the Device interface) when it tries to call it. This is a pretty HUGE bug for this version of Android, and it’s caused by not calling the right Java interface.

So, if you do something stupid like this:

Device.do_stuff();

And do_stuff() doesn’t exist, you would expect a Javascript error, right? Well, instead you get a misleading NullPointerExtension. This is rather bad behaviour, and shows that they aren’t checking for nulls in this. I’m going to write a proof of concept and send it to Google, but this bug is a pretty serious flaw in the Android SDK for obvious reasons.

Overall Success

Despite the Beep Drawback, things seem to be going well for the first 24 hours of PhoneGap on the Android Market. I’m hopefully going to have my first free Java application up to the Android market in the next couple of weeks as well. Now that we have one published Android App, we’re going to try for more!

Android in Vancouver?

In my spare time around here, I’ve been working on the Android version of PhoneGap, partly to help make the vision of a write once run anywhere javascript framework happen. However, since I’m also a hardware hacker, I’ve been messing with the Android Internals, and doing other geeky stuff with the device.

It seems that more and more I hear about other Vancouverites running Android phones, which is interesting. It should be noted that the ADP phones will never get 3G in Canada from the big three providers, since they are using a totally different 3G technology, so if you are a person in Vancouver with an Android, you are probably a developer, and you are probably interested in hacking it.

If I’m right, and assuming that there’s at least 10 people who own this device in the entire Vancouver area (including the 4 people at Nitobi, and Tim Bray), I’m wondering if there’d be any interest in yet another meetup, camp or get together, even if it is just a bunch of geeks with laptops and beer, it should be fun.

Any thoughts?