Google Demos Slew of App Dev Tools For The Web


In an effort to woo the crowd, Google said its developer products are aimed at making it easier for developers to build applications for the Web. Those initiatives include making clouds of computing power more accessible to all developers; making the browser more powerful; and supporting connectivity so that the client and the cloud work are integrated.

"Openness is great for developers and for users because it knocks down hurdles to building great applications, and because it speeds the next wave of innovation by letting good ideas be shared," said Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering for developer products. "The Web doesn't depend on any one API or tool or product from Google or anyone else. What makes the real difference is the aggregate effect of us all working together, with open standards and open source."

Towards that end, the company discussed upgrades to its App Engine which enables developers to build their Web applications on the same infrastructure that powers Google's own applications.

Google App Engine is now open to everyone with no wait -- the company said that over 150,000 developers were on its product waiting list for the past six weeks.

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The company said that based on developer feedback, its App Engine will provide two new APIs sometime in the coming weeks. The image-manipulation API will let developers scale, rotate and crop images on the server. The other new solution is a memcache API, a high-performance caching layer designed to make page rendering faster for developers.

In addition, Google said it is now allowing developers to purchase additional computing capabilities. Initially, the product will be free and in the current preview release applications will continue to be restricted to that free quota. When the preview period has ended later this year, developers have to pay a range of fees:

- 10 cents to 12 cents per CPU core-hour - 15 cents to 18 cents per GB-month of storage - 11 cents to 13 cents per GB outgoing bandwidth - 9 cents to 11 cents per GB incoming bandwidth

Google also said it is releasing its Web Toolkit Release Candidate 1.5 later this week, which includes Java 5 language support that will let developers use the full capabilities of the Java 5 syntax, such as Java generics, enumerated types, annotations, auto-boxing and variable parameter lists.

At the conference Google talked about updates for its Gears project, an open source browser extension that lets developers create Web applications that can run offline. New features include: support for Windows Mobile; HTTP requests and timers for workers; improved support for handling errors in workers; and the ability to load workers from a URL, even cross-domain URL. This can be used with allowCrossOrigin to create secure mashups without iframes. Google also disclosed that social networking site MySpace will use Gears to power its Message Center.

Google also demoed a prototype of the Android-enabled mobile phone, which allows users to access core mobile device features through standard API calls. The phone is a UMTS handset, and the demo was on HSDPA 3.6Mbps, and is based on a Qualcomm 528MHz processor, has a Synaptics capacitive touch screen and 128MB of RAM and 256MB of flash.

The Android is being developed by The Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies that includes 34 companies including Google, T-Mobile, Qualcomm, Motorola, Intel, NVIDIA, Synaptics, Aplix and Ascender. The phone is slated for release in the second half of the year.

Google said that Android does not differentiate between the phone's basic and third-party applications, and that even the dialer or home screen can be replaced. With SDK tools, developers can build apps and also run Android applications that include a true device emulator and advanced debugging tools. The phone will have tools such as zoom, a compass, site navigation, and Google Maps capabilities.

In the Android demo, Vincent Nguyen of the Android Community organization was asked if users have to buy a device with Android on it, or if Android can be loaded onto an existing device.

"The software will be released as open source when the first handsets are available, so people can do with it pretty much whatever they want," Nguyen said. "We don't dictate how it's used."

Nguyen also said that the platform was designed to be very generic.

"It has to work with touch screen devices, D-pad devices and trackball devices," he said. "Some devices might not even have a screen. We choose to show a demonstration with a device that happened to have a trackball; we have other devices with a trackball. We could've shown that exact demo completely driven by the trackball. That's pretty compelling as not a lot of platforms have that flexibility."