Google Celebrates 10 Billion Downloads on the Market: Several Great Apps Available for Only 10 Cents Each!

Android Market
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Android is booming very rapidly, and the market share has gone from nothing to dominating the market, within only a couple of years. I still remember when just a bit more than a year ago, competitors still thought that Android was only going to fill a niche market, and that it was “clunky” and “slow”. Well, its open nature has led to a rapid explosion of devices with Android, and rapidly improving speeds are getting rid of the Android “lag”.

From the Android Developer’s Blog:

The Android Market has recently crossed 10 billion downloads, and Google is celebrating:
“One billion is a pretty big number by any measurement. However, when it’s describing the speed at which something is growing, it’s simply amazing. This past weekend, thanks to Android users around the world, Android Market exceeded 10 billion app downloads—with a growth rate of one billion app downloads per month. We can’t wait to see where this accelerating growth takes us in 2012.”

“To celebrate this milestone, we partnered with some of the Android developers who contributed to this milestone to make a bunch of great Android apps available at an amazing price. Starting today for the next 10 days, we’ll have a new set of awesome apps available each day for only 10 cents each. Today, we are starting with Asphalt 6 HDColor & Draw for KidsEndomondo Sports Tracker ProFieldrunners HDGreat Little War GameMinecraftPaper CameraSketchbook MobileSoundhound Infinity and Swiftkey X.”

For 10 cents, why not try out a couple of apps? It’s amazing to see just how the quality of apps has improved over the past year, especially games. Unfortunately my Nexus S did reboot while playing one of the games, so the stability still isn’t all there, but I definitely do see an improvement in quality as compared to last year.

Check out the post for more details. It sounds like there will be a new set of apps at 10 cents each day!

Note: If you don’t see the apps at 10 cents on your phone, try going to the Android Market from your PC, instead. I had the same issue, where the app was listed at $4.99 on my phone and at 10 cents on the web. If you have a Google account linked to your phone, then you can just purchase from the web and Google will automatically send the app to your phone.

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Open Source Cross-Platform OpenGL Frameworks for Android

Android robot logo.
Image via Wikipedia

Let’s say you’ve decided to develop the next viral game for Android. You now have a choice: Do you go with a pre-packaged solution, flawed and rough around the edges though it may be, or do you decide to DIY (Do It Yourself) which has the disadvantage of reinventing the wheel and spending more time writing boiler-plate code? You also need to decide if you are going to go with a commercial solution or with one of the open-source libraries available.

Here are two of the more well-known open-source libraries that won’t cost you a dime to use:

libgdx

libgdx is an open-source framework which abstracts away the job of developing graphics for Android, and it also allows you to build for the desktop with only a few lines of code. It also appears to have support for OpenGL 2 on the desktop, though using standard OpenGL 2 instead of OpenGL ES 2.

forplay

forplay is a cross-platform library for developing games to target to the desktop, HTML5, Android, and Flash. It seems to be geared toward making 2d platformers rather than more intensive 3D games. Examples of forplay in action and more information can be seen at the Google IO 2011 session titled “Kick-ass Game Programming with Google Web Toolkit“.

Using a framework versus DIY

The pros

You can focus on the implementation of your app or game and save development time by not having to reinvent the wheel and rewrite boiler-plate code; being able to build for different platforms with only a few lines of code is a neat thing. Rovio reportedly used forplay in the development of the WebGL version of Angry Birds.

The cons

By using a framework, you won’t learn about the finer details of OpenGL ES and other aspects of game development, and ultimately, you’ll want to learn and understand these finer details if you also want to understand the broader picture. You’ll also have to live with the design decisions and implementation details of the various frameworks, as well as any rough edges. If you’re targeting Android and the Android Market, it’s better to test on and develop for the phone rather than on the desktop — it’s better to do well on one platform than mediocre on a few.

Conclusion

With the wide availability of code snippets and open-source libraries, there’s no need to go either-or. You can go with an existing framework if that’s most convenient for you, or you can start building from scratch, while taking code and math from the vast array of resources available on the Internet. Be sure to check the licenses before using code from other libraries — some open-source libraries are GPL licensed, which requires you to make your source code available for others should you incorporate it into your own code.

As always, don’t hesitate to leave your comments and feedback. 🙂

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