Analyzing the Android apps


Analyzing the Android apps

By now you've no doubt read over the list of winners for Google's Android Developer Challenge. The contest received 1,788 submissions in all, with the 50 best applications earning their developers a $25,000 prize. While much remains unknown about the Android OS, perhaps the winning entries offer some insight into Google's overall vision for the platform--with the Phandroid blog's app-by-app breakdown as a guide, let's see what we can parse out.

Location-based services are going to be huge. Applications including BreadCrumbz (a navigation tool), City Slikkers (a location-based game), PedNav (a daily activities planner tied to the urban environment), Locale (a location- and time-based user profiling app) and LifeAware (a family and friends tracking service) all underline location's vital role in Android's makeup. Which really shouldn't surprise anyone given Google's dominance in search and advertising.

Social networking is going to be big, too. Applications like Beetaun (a social networking service based on geographical content), Sustain (tagline: "Keeping Your Social Network Alive") and Pocket Journey (which promises connections to a global community of artists, historians, architects, musicians and comedians) all earned finalist prizes.

The forecast calls for weather apps.  Em-Radar delivers emergency and severe weather alerts. HandWx offers seven-day weather forecasts. And The Weather Channel for Android is self-explanatory. It should be interesting to compare and contrast these apps once they launch to determine whether they offer sufficiently unique experiences to justify their inclusion among the finalists.

The enterprise is on the outside looking in. Where are the enterprise apps? While the details of some of the ADC winners remain under wraps, those that have been disclosed focus almost exclusively on the consumer market--only BioWallet, a biometric authentication system featuring iris recognition, would seem to offer something new and exciting as a corporate security safeguard. Especially given Android's emphasis on social networking, it's surprising that not even collaboration and unified communication tools made the cut.

We don't know everything…yet. Four of the 50 winning applications remain unnamed at their creators' request, which may also explain the absence of mobile games and other lingering question marks. So no rush to judgment--just a slow crawl. -Jason