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Locale app for Android "wouldn't even be possible" on iPhone, says MIT $275K winner (xconomy.com)
31 points by waderoush on Oct 2, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments



Background processing is a big win here.

I think I've probably dreamed up about a dozen cool iPhone apps and then smacking against the "dang, that would require background processing" wall.

I understand Apple's reasoning as far as wanting to manage resources carefully. The problem is that they've missed a huge part of the mobile user experience, which is having a device with you 24/7 that can respond without active user cues. (That's what a mobile phone is after all, in essence.)

Who knows, maybe this is the killer feature for Android. At a minimum, I hope it spurs Apple to deal with background processing instead of simply disallowing it.


I hope it spurs Apple to deal with background processing instead of simply disallowing it.

I hope the iPhone just goes away and we can all get on with our lives. I don't understand why people hope that $FOO changes to be like $BAR when $BAR is already $BAR.


because someone mike like $FAR better than $FOO or $BAR


The title is misleading because it is technically possible to implement on the iphone. The only problem is Apple's current 3rd party SDK limitations.

Apple, of course, could develop its own version of Locale.

Informative forum post by Carlos in the linked article:

# Carlos 10/2/08 11:28 am

Facts:

- The iPhone SDK doesn’t allow third party developers to modify phone settings.

- The iPhone SDK doesn’t allow third party developers to run background applications.

- The Android platform allows third party developers to modify phone settings with user permissions.

- The Android platform allows third party developers to run background tasks.

Conclusion:

- You can develop an application like Locale for the iPhone if your name is “Apple”. Otherwise you can’t.

- Everybody can develop an application like Locale for Android phones.


That's interesting that it's not a technical limitation, but a business decision limitation. It will take Apple probably less than 4 months to come up with the same app on the iPhone, but it will take more than 4 months to debate whether they want to play catch up every time another cool app crops up in Android, or to revise their business decisions regarding their SDK. No ones likes to invest in mere "me too" apps, but in technology you either match quickly, innovate or die. This particularly "lame" app is only a proof of concept that there will be more apps and more developers for Android unless they change.

If you think about it that way this is more serious than if the hardware itself doesn't allow this kind of app to be built.


"This particularly "lame" app is only a proof of concept that there will be more apps and more developers for Android unless they change."

More apps? Possible, but it's up in the air. More developers? I would doubt it.

What Android offers in flexibility, it lacks in simplicity and availability. Most people on the planet don't know that Android exists. They wouldn't recognize it if they saw it. Compare that to the App Store, which got pushed out to every iTunes on the planet, and the iPhone, which is kind of a big deal news-wise. (I remember seeing it on the front page of the local paper. That's big considering it was just a tech announcement.)

The iPhone has things to offer developers that Android doesn't. For one thing, it offers slickness: the same slickness that Apple offers with most of its stuff. The ability to easily code apps that feel lickable. It's got the "high quality" name behind it. A lot of developers follow things like that. I'm thinking primarily of Instapaper - Marco has said before that he does not look at Android with any sort of eagerness, and that he doesn't think a Google OS is worth it. And I think Instapaper is by far the best and most useful application I've seen.

No, the iPhone can't pull off Locale. I disagree with your thinking that Apple WILL implement it. Locale seems nifty, but it's not a gamechanging app or anything. I personally LIKE that my apps can't run in the background. Obviously, other people are going to disagree. But you can't look at this and say "Oh, look, Android is going to cream Apple," because it's not, because the two attract entirely different sorts of developers, and because I think Google and Apple both REALIZE that they aren't directly competing here.


+1 on this point: "the two attract entirely different sorts of developers, and because I think Google and Apple both REALIZE that they aren't directly competing here."

on a semi-related note I really don't like people comparing Android to the iPhone. One of them is a good looking smart phone...the other one isn't even a phone. Apple has birthed a whole and completed creature, beautiful to behold. Google meanwhile has conjured up a spirit, or a virus that can latch onto any form. Google is hoping that android sticks around and reincarnates into various physical form factors which will one day out number or out-slick whatever any one single manufacturer can come up with. (Like the Nokia Morph!?) If successful it can be eventually be embedded to whatever device replaces the cell phone one day.

Not that many people on the planet knows what Symbian is either, but that's okay with Nokia Ericsson et al.


(1) Doesn't running the GPS all the time kill battery performance?

(2) Isn't this application a bit of a stupid pet trick? Turning the ringer off in theaters?

(3) It's probably worth repeating that Locale isn't possible on the iPhone because they've deliberately chosen to make it impossible.


  > (1) Doesn't running the GPS all the time kill battery performance?
I don't think it would need to run all the time, though. Something like polling once every ten minutes, checking more often if the position is actually changing, throttled down to e.g. once an hour if it's in the same place as the last two polls, might be enough. Perhaps existing data could also help here, such as noticing if the cell phone towers used have changed recently. (I really should learn more about how those things work...)

  (2) Isn't this application a bit of a stupid pet trick? Turning the ringer off in theaters?
Hey, I'm not going to complain if it becomes popular.


In addition, I assume Android has the (old) sexy that is accelerometers. So sitting at your desk or only walking a bit might not trigger it.


Cool idea. I wonder how sensitive it is to the location, and how well it deals when it doesn't know its location?

Also, the iPhone bashing is getting rather tedious and the Android phones aren't even out yet!


> the iPhone bashing is getting rather tedious

After reading the article twice, I couldn't find a single thing that even approached iPhone "bashing". The only thing that even came close was posted in the title, and even that was just a simple statement of fact with no malice intended as are as I can tell.


Agreed. Its as if someone wrote an article about how to do pointer manipulation chicanery and then commented "this wouldn't even be possible in Java." Its a technical "fact" of sorts here.




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