Android, the licence-free platform for mobile devices, generates significant interest. Google has brought together more than 30 companies from all over the world to form the Open Handset Alliance and to cooperate on developing Android. The aim of the platform is to allow rapid access to internet data, such as e-mails or interactive maps, using mobile devices. Mobile data can be combined with data stored on the device, for example mobile geo-data and saved contact details. The software development toolkit for Android is now available for developers all over the world to download so that they can transform their ideas into programs.
The Vision of the Open Handset Alliance
The objective of the Open Handset Alliance is to accelerate innovation on the mobile market. They created Android for that purpose. The companies Noser and Esmertec represent Android in Switzerland as members of the alliance. Netcetera benefits from its participation in the Android Challenge to which it has contributed its in-depth Java expertise and extensive experience of open source platforms. In addition, Netcetera also has a considerable network of potential customers for Android-based applications. Alongside the Android Developer Challenge, the company is holding its own Android competition and has initiated Android prototype projects.
The Netcetera team submitted their project to the Android Developer Challenge in April. The prizes for the development of the best applications total 10 million US dollars. Daniel Eichhorn and Stefan Ferstl's project is appropriately called Tramdroid. As its name suggests, the program provides information about tram lines, routes and departure times in the city of Zurich. The development process involved data from 13 lines, more than 170 stops and 260,000 departure times which the developers have cleverly compressed and concatenated. The result is a highly functional and user-friendly program with a visually appealing user interface.
The Vision of the Tramdroid Engineers
The concept behind the development of the application is to allow rapid access to travel information in situations where time is short. Current information systems for mobile devices are slow and not particularly user-friendly. Tramdroid allows users to find out a tram’s departure time and direction of travel within just a few seconds. The program identifies the location of the cell phone users and advises them whether they need to run or simply stroll to the next stop. The stop can either be selected on an animated map or entered in text form. Tramdroid displays the departure times of the next trams and, in the text-based version, the journey time to the destination.
A Glimpse of the Future
The first version of the Tramdroid software is based on timetables and not on real-time data. This means that it currently does not take account of service interruptions or delays caused by accidents or heavy traffic. Incorporating the real-time data is feasible and worthwhile - we anticipate exciting developments in this area. However, no mobile devices are yet available to run Android applications. The Open Handset Alliance is working hard towards solutions for a new mobile world.
Engineers in test mode: Daniel Eichhorn (center), the initiator of Tramdroid; Stefan Ferstl (right), software developer and Stefan Tramm (left), Netcetera's Android project leader.