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iPhone vs. Android : An Open Source Devs Perspective

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NEW YORK. All right here's the question everyone wants to know - What's better - Apple iPhone or Google Android?

According to Andrea Gazzaniga, software development manager at mobile open source vendor Funambol the answer is not entirely clear. In a rambling overflow presentation at AjaxWorld's iPhone Sumitt, Gazzaniga attempted to outline the differences and similiaraties between iPhone and Android.

"iPhone is cool and that's what's bringing us all here," Gazzaniga said. "With Android the claim is that it will be open and we're hoping it will overcome the closed nature of current mobile development.

Gazzaniga had a few other (not so startling) points such as Android is based on Linux while the iPhone is based on Mac OS. For the most part Gazzaniga implied that Android from an app developers point of view behaves much the same as iPhone, though he did point out a few serious limiations to the iPhone (from what he could tell from the iPhone SDK).

According to Gazzaniga iPhone does not allow in its SDK for background processes. That is an app must close when the users leaves it. The obvious question resulting from that issue then is - how does an application listen for a network event after a user leaver it ? (for instant messaging or sync operations).

There is not official email integration in the iPhone SDK which begs the question  - is it possible to deliver email other than with Apple's client and built-in protocols?  Gazzaniga also noted that developers of iPhone native applications will need Apple to distribute their applications. As an example Gazzaniga commented that you can't get Skype for the iPhone today. 

Overall though in my view, Gazzaniga's presentation left the audience with more questions than answers. It will be interesting to see as the iPhone and Android SDKs mature and gain adoption, precisely what the differences between the two are from a practical point of view.

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