As most of you must know by now, Google announced their Android open mobile development platform last week. At the time, the big question I had was “given the major possibilities around local and mobile, will the platform be built with that opportunity in mind?”
After digging a bit in the documentation and reading some of the comments in the blogosphere, I’m happy to see that the platform is definitely engineered with location-based services (LBS) in mind.
Ed Parsons, Google’s Geospatial Technologist, has a short analysis on his blog:
For me and my interest in geographic information the key detail about the Android SDK is the LBS component, and where is appears in the whole android stack. I have often argued that LBS would only really make sense as an underlining infrastructure that is available to all applications, therefore allowing much higher levels of integration. (…) With Android the Location Manager component is part of the core application framework, meaning that all user applications have access to the devices location.
Update: my friend Martin takes a deeper technical look.
What it means: any application will be able to “ping” the mobile device to retrieve the user’s location. This creates an opportunity to build very compelling local search applications. Given the association with the Open Handset Alliance, I think we can safely assume some handset manufacturers and wireless providers will adopt that new platform (most notably HTC, Motorola, Samsung, T-Mobile, and Sprint/Nextel) but I wouldn’t hold my breath for short term opportunities. We’re still talking about a product that will be deployed in the market in 6-18 months. Put this one on your radar screen but do not engage resources too quickly.