Thursday, June 25, 2009

Android Native Development Kit Released

Today Android announced official support for native development via the Android Native Development Kit. This is a huge step forward for the platform.

Yea, I love my Java but not having a native C / C++ option makes it impossible for developers to port many popular desktop applications & console games. Without C / C++ you could never see apps like Firefox, Google Earth or a halfway decent version of John Madden Football running.

Currently the NDK doesn't support a native UI so for the time being developers will need to use Java as the front end and interface to C / C++ via JNI.

Lack of a native interface remains a huge weakness of the BlackBerry platform. BlackBerry has no real Operating System per say. In fact they don't even refer to it as an Operating System but rather as "Device Software". The lowest level software RIM has is essentially the JVM. I've heard RIM describe the architecture as "Java on the metal".

Luckily the entire BlackBerry platform should be fairly straightforward to port to a full Operating System such as Linux. In this way they could add support for native development while maintaining full backwards compatibility with existing applications. And in fact they have essentially done this already! The BlackBerry Application Suite runs atop Windows Mobile and runs most of the platform.

BlackBerry and Microsoft continue to look like a perfect match for each other. If it doesn't happen I sure hope RIM is busy at work porting the platform to Linux.


tdog said...

Interesting post. I remember when Google Gears first came out and I wanted to port it to BB but there really wasn't a way to do it because you couldn't write plugins for their browser. Between their lack of a native interface and their custom Java environment they are not developer-friendly.

But on the business side RIM continues to post strong revenues and lots of new customers across the carriers, meanwhile they remain the best corporate solution, hands-down. So I don't see why they need to get cozier with Microsoft than they already are.

mpv said...

Ha. Gears is an app I really want on BlackBerry too! Well to be more specific I was Google Reader offline mode.

As for why RIM might want to be acquired by Microsoft.. at least three reasons: MS has cash, a modern operating system, and better global presence than RIM does.