Android takes developers to school with new courses

by Kristen Nicole

Google continues to fight off Microsoft on a few different fronts, the most recent being an all-out Android bash session where Microsoft rewarded the “most compelling” tale of Android woes with a brand new Windows Phone device. Microsoft’s been after Android developers for several months, and is now making a direct play for consumers, too. But two can play at that game. Google launched an Android Training program for developers, helping them to create apps designed around the Android platform. So far it has about 11 general sections, with a total of 34 lessons to get you going. It’s an important step for Android to show it’s a resource to developers, especially with a promising new Android version having just hit shelves.

“From designing effective navigation, to managing audio playback, to optimizing battery life, these classes are designed to demonstrate best practices for solving common Android development problems,” writes Retro Meier, Android Developer Relations Tech Lead. “We’re starting small and this is just the beginning for Android Training. Over the coming months we will be increasing the number of classes available, as well as introducing over-arching courses and sample apps to further help your development experience.”

Is Google making its own Siri?

Another project Google may be working on is a Siri competitor for Android. Android fans won’t be truly happy until it has a deeply integrated personal assistant function akin to the iPhone 4S’s Siri, and it’s quite likely Android will eventually incorporate such a feature, given its existing commitment to speech recognition and ability to leverage its own expanse of data towards a rather useful artificial intelligence program. Rumored to be code-named “Majel,” the Siri-like initiative is said to work as well “or better than Siri.” The story’s been gaining traction throughout the week as anonymous tipsters reveal more details of the Majel project, indicating that Google may very well see value in tying together things like Maps, Search, Places and Google Plus apps for a personal assistant tool.

Facebook Timeline hits Android first

Another development is the Facebook update for Timelines. The new profile feature that aggregates your life’s milestones is now available for Android users, delivering a beautified interface designed for your phone. The Timeline features a cover photo, map thumbnails and the ability to swipe through albums without leaving the screen, which is a very nice touch. And for once, Facebook updated its Android app before pushing an iOS update.