Android to have no Google Talk, Bluetooth API


28 Aug 2008

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Ironically the forthcoming release of the Google-owned Android operating system (OS) for mobile phones is not going to have Google Talk on board and just as strangely the radical new OS that was meant to set the mobile phone free has not included an API (Application Programming Interface) for Bluetooth.

What these two omissions mean is that firstly, Gmail users will not be able to avail of its instant messaging application vie their handset and secondly, programmers who want to develop Bluetooth wireless functionality for their Android application simply cannot.

However this does not mean that Bluetooth will not work on any handsets running the Android OS – Bluetooth headsets will sync while any other functionality will have to be designed by Google.

Defending the decision to omit the Bluetooth API from the first Android devices that hit the market, Google engineer Nick Pelly said that they “plain ran out of time”.

“The Android Bluetooth API was pretty far along, but needs some clean-up before we can commit to it for the SDK (Software Developers Kit). Keep in mind that putting it in the 1.0 SDK would have locked us into that API for years to come.”

So rather than ship a faulty API Google has decided to hold back and perfect Bluetooth integration for the release of the next version of Android.

“I would love nothing more than to start seeing some neat third-party applications and games over Bluetooth, “said Pelly.

“In my opinion, Bluetooth is completely under-utilized on most mobile platforms and I’m excited to someday see what the developer community can do with Android.”

Google Talk, on the other hand, is developed by Google as is Android, so what is the beef with not including an application that eager punters assumed would be included? It would be too much of a risk because of security issues says Google.

Once we brought in our security review team to examine Android, however, they soon realized that, as exciting as it is, the GTalkService has some fundamental security problems,” said Dan Morrill, Developer Advocate on the official Android Developers Blog (http://android-developers.blogspot.com).

Carrying out the tinfoil hat test Google realised that the way the instant messaging platform worked over the Android operating system effectively exposed individual users’ details and meant that your Google Talk friends “had almost the same control of your device as you did”.

So while Google Talk is not completely shelved it will not be on Android for now.

The first Android devices are set to hit the shelves by as early as next month with Taiwan-based mobile firm HTC bringing the Dream handset to market.

Pictured: The Open Handset Alliance, which includes Google and HTC

By Marie Boran