Google Contest Spawns Apps, Android Market


Google yesterday announced winners of the Android Developer Challenge, which put up US$10 million in prize money to developers of the best applications for its nascent mobile platform. In doing so, Google also helped to stock the shelves of Android Market, a forthcoming online retail site for Android applications akin to iPhone's App Store.

Development teams of the top 10 applications each received $275,000, the 10 next-best applications got $100,000. Another 30 applications were recognized as finalists.

Many of the top finishers employ location-based services of some kind. There's GoCart, which uses the phone's camera to scan a bar code while you're shopping and then price-compares like items from nearby stores and online retailers and provides inventory data and user reviews. Compare Everywhere, a similar product, also helps manage shopping lists. An extremely clever app is cab4me, which combines GoogleMaps, GPS and cell data to hail a cab to your location with just one button-press. No phone call, no directory assistance. You don't even need to know where you are.

It's remarkable that an operating system released only last November has spawned so many great and useful applications, especially when they involve technologies as complex as mobile cell networks, global positioning and the restrictions of embedded programming. The first phones to use Android, which is Linux-based, could be available to consumers as early as October, according to an August 14 report in the New York Times.

About the Author

I am Technical Editor of the [url=]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=][/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

Between '06 and '09 I was editor of [URL=]ST&P[/URL], a software testing trade magazine. I also wrote a software [URL=]Test & QA [/URL]newsletter, and was chairman of the [url=]Software Test & Performance conference[/url].