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Android - Now or Later

Summary: Android was on fire at ESC-Boston. Are you using it now?

At the latest ESC-Boston Bill Gatliff (www.billgatliff.com) and Karim Yaghmour (www. opersys.com) gave a full-day class about incorporating Android into embedded systems. They pissed off a lot of people.

Why?

Because the class was so full many had to be turned away. My unscientific survey suggests that most of the full-day tutorials lost a good hunk of their attendees to the Android class. People were hungry for the material.

This suggests that Android is the operating system/environment of 2011! I guess we're all incorporating Android into our latest projects, be they based on a PIC10 or Cortex-A9 processor.

Android is a relatively new phenomena. There's no question it's hugely important in the mobile phone market, and is making inroads into the nascent tablet market. But mobile phones are the ringer of embedded systems. Volumes are huge, while the number of distinct products relatively small.

Where else would Android make sense?

More and more applications make use of touchscreens. I visited a company in Europe a few weeks ago that makes a product you'd think wouldn't require a whole lot of intelligence, but there's a touchscreen used to monitor system operation. It's sexy, and at the very least makes for great marketing. Though it does not use Android, one could see that OS being a natural fit.

I was struck by Bill and Karim's audience draw. Does this suggest there's currently a huge push into Android today? Or are engineers thinking that Real Soon Now they may be taking advantage of it in a product?

A third option is that an Android class is great resume fodder.

In my travels, outside of mobile phones I have seen very little acceptance of Android to date. But the buzz is enormous. Historically this industry has been driven by fads: the next new thing is introduced, everyone gets terribly excited, and after a few years the technology either disappears or is folded into our normal toolkits.

What do you think - is Android the next great thing? Do you plan to incorporate it into a product in the near future?

Published October 12, 2011