Epic Games, the creator of the widely-used Unreal 3 game engine, is gearing up to release its Unreal Development Kit (UDK) for iOS, which will give iOS game developers unrestricted access to powerful 3D game development tools.
The UDK is Epic’s free version of the Unreal Engine, a powerful game engine that has been used to power such graphically intensive titles as Gears of War and Epic Citadel (pictured)—the latter of which has already been released for iOS as a demonstration of the Unreal Engine 3′s performance on the platform.
When it ships, the UDK iOS will include the same editors and code used to create a number of blockbuster games, and will be available to anyone wishing to publish games via the App Store. Toolsets of this quality generally cost developers anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars, so by releasing the UDK for free, Epic is drastically lowering the barrier of entry for iOS developers wishing to create graphically impressive games.
Research In Motion (RIM) is extremely excited about the opportunities available with the new BlackBerry® Tablet OS and its corresponding application platform. Building on the incredible power of the QNX operating system that’s uniquely suited for tablet computing, the BlackBerry Tablet OS will lay the foundation for the future while preserving the key investments that have made the BlackBerry platform so successful.
For nearly seven years, Skype has revolutionized communications through software that offers not only free voice and video calling, but also low-cost calls to phone numbers anywhere in the world. Now, we are taking Skype into new directions by empowering consumer electronic and desktop software innovators to embed Skype into their products through the availability of our new software development kit (SDK) called SkypeKit.
SkypeKit will initially be available as a beta on an invitation only basis. SkypeKit for consumer electronic device makers will be available tomorrow, June 23, based on the Linux OS. For desktop software developers, SkypeKit will be available for Windows and Mac in the next few weeks.
If you are interested, please check out the Skype Developer site, and feel free to sign up for the SkypeKit Beta membership. Although please keep in mind, we will activate registrations on an invitation only basis during our beta period.
I wonder if they have even suggested an iOS SDK to Apple?
With all the antitrust shenanigans going on around Apple at the moment, I think this article is probably worth a read.
What’s even more fascinating is how closed Android is, despite Google’s don’t be evil mantra and the permissive Apache 2 license which Android SDK source code is under. Paraphrasing a famous line from Henry Ford’s book on the Model-T, anyone can have Android in their own colour as long as it’s black. Android is the best example of how a company can use open source to build up interest and community participation, while running a very tight commercial model.
Just to be clear here; we are talking about the closed aspects of Android’s OEM (pre-load) ecosystem, and not the software developers (post-load) ecosystem that you or I use.
From a high level, Google uses 8 control points to manage the make-up of Android handsets:
1. Private branches. There are multiple, private codelines available to selected partners (typically the OEM working on an Android project) on a need-to-know basis only. The private codelines are an estimated 6+ months ahead of the public SDK and therefore essential for an OEM to stay competitive. The main motivation for the public SDK and source code is to introduce the latest features (those stemming from private branches) into third party apps.
2. Closed review process. All code reviewers work for Google, meaning that Google is the only authority that can accept or reject a code submission from the community. There is also a rampant NIH (not invented here) culture inside Google that assumes code written by Googlers is second to none. Ask anyone who’s tried to contribute a patch to Android and you hear the same story: very few contributions get in and often no reason is offered on rejection.
3. Speed of evolution. Google innovates the Android platform at a speed that’s unprecedented for the mobile industry, releasing 4 major updates (1.6 to 2.1) in 18 months. OEMs wanting to build on Android have no choice but to stay close to Google so as not to lose on new features/bug fixes released. The Nexus One, Motorola Droid, HTC G1 and other Experience handsets serve the purpose of innovation testbeds for Google.
4. Incomplete software. The public SDK source code is by no means sufficient to build a handset. Key building blocks missing are radio integration, international language packs, operator packs – and of course Google’s closed source apps like Market, Gmail and GTalk. There are a few custom ROM builders with a full Android stack like the Cyanogen distribution, but these use binaries that are not licensed for distribution in commercial handsets.
5. Gated developer community. Android Market is the exclusive distribution and discovery channel for the 40,000+ apps created by developers; and is available to phone manufacturers on separate agreement. This is one of the strongest control points as no OEM would dare produce a handset that doesn’t tap into the Android Market (perhaps with the exception of DECT phones, picture frames, in-car terminals or other exotic uses of Android). However, one should acknowledge that Android’s acceptance process for Market apps is liberal as it gets – and the complete antithesis of the Apple vetting process for apps.
6. Anti-fragmentation agreement. Little is known about the anti-fragmentation agreement signed by OHA members but we understand it’s a commitment to not release handsets which are not CTS compliant.
7. Private roadmap. The visibility offered into Android’s roadmap is pathetic. At the time of writing, the roadmap published publicly is a year out of date (Q1 2009). To get a sneak peak into the private roadmap you need Google’s blessing.
8. Android trademark. Google holds the trademark to the Android name; as a manufacturer you can only leverage on the Android branding with approval from Google, much like how you need Sun’s approval to claim your handset is Java-powered.
In short, it’s either the Google way or the highway. If you want to branch off Android you‘re completely on your own and you need resources of the size of China Mobile (see their OMS effort) to make it viable (hint: China Mobile is the biggest network operator bar none).
The Open Handset Alliance is another myth; since Google managed to attract sufficient industry interest in 2008, the OHA is simply a set of signatures with membership serving only as a VIP Club badge.
A fair conclusion :
So, is Android evil? No, it isn’t. It has done no harm – quite the contrary, Android has boosted the level of innovation [in] mobile software. The point of the article is not to vilify Google or concoct visions of Darth Vader; but to balance the level of openness hysteria with a reality check on the commercial dynamics of mobile open source.
What is quite interesting to note though is one of Andy Rubin’s answers to a question in a recent interview :
When asked whether Android apps from Google might have an advantage over other companies’ apps in the Android Market, the discussion again seemed to implicitly veer toward Brand X.
“We use the same tools we expect our third-party developers to,” Mr. Rubin said. “We have an SDK we give to developers. and when we write our Gmail app, we use the same SDK. A lot of guys have private APIs. We don’t. That’s on policy and on technology. If there’s a secret API to hook into billing system we open up that billing system to third parties. If there’s a secret API to allow application multitasking, we open it up. There are no secret APIs. That is important to highlight for Android sake. Open is open and we live by our own implementations.”
As I argued yesterday, without Apple and the iPhone, much innovation in the smart-phone marketplace would not have happened. Likewise with Google. They are also spurring innovation. But they too are operating as closed a system as they can get away with, and just like Apple want to control as much as possible.
Make no mistake, Android is Google’s, and no-one else’s. No matter how much branding and innovation third parties put into their devices or OEM software.
It will be interesting to see how well Flash is able to plug into the various flavours of Android OS, and how long it is before Adobe and Google are sniping at each other.
An announcement so quickly after the iPad launch makes me expect less, rather than more. So I expect this presentation to be interesting, but underwhelming overall :
Multi-tasking, but not quite the way one might expect.
And not on all devices. Expect some wailing and screaming.
OS Unification : One OS to rule them all!
This will also entail some of the newer User Interface widgets and modes from the iPad’s current OS being shared across the iPod and iPhone platforms.
Advertising integration into the SDK:
Apple purchased Quattro Wireless (a mobile advertising company) some time back, and have not done much with it. It seems obvious to me that Apple would like to leverage this network across all it’s iDevices, and as such I expect it’s integration into the iPhone SDK being announced at this event.
Possibly : A Music Streaming service :
Apple also recently purchased LaLa; known for its 10-cent streaming songs and digital music locker service. At the time of purchase the company was apparently only weeks away from introducing an iPhone application that would allow users to stream songs they already own from the cloud, rather than loading them onto the mobile device as MP3 files. So Apple could be well advanced in it’s development towards providing this service as part of the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad ecosystem.Part of me though, would expect Apple to have a special event in it’s own right for this. Perhaps more iPod focussed. But then we are in the iPad age now. So who knows.
It’s possible that we may see some other UI niggles tidied up, and features like file syncing and notifications matured. Perhaps a first peak at an overall UI overhaul. But nothing final until new devices are announced. And this is not typically the stuff Apple would focus on at such an event.
Other features that people are speculating about include front facing cameras, support for higher screen resolutions, support for a second camera and so on. It would be hard for Apple to announce any of these at this event as it would give people advance knowledge of upcoming hardware. So I don’t expect any of this to feature in the presentation.
It’s also been rumoured that some new iPhone OS 4.0 versions have been discovered; iPhone OS 4.0, 4.1 and 4.0.1 : Not quite sure what to make of that, other than it may be that one or other feature (that may or may not be announced) from all I’ve discussed above, may be part of those different point releases.