Everyone, it seems, has a mobile SDK. Apple has one for its iPhone. Likewise, Google, Microsoft, Palm, and RIM each have one for their mobile OSes. Then there are the third-party, multiplatform mobile dev toolkits such as Rhomobile Rhodes, Nitobi PhoneGap, Appcelerator Titanium, and Ansca Corona, plus the Eclipse Foundation's forthcoming Pulsar.
But wait, there's more. Verizon is working on one for developers of Windows Mobile and BlackBerry apps. And today Motorola announced it is entering the fray, with plans to release later this year its MotoDev Studio mobile IDE for Android, upon which the company plans to base most of its mobile devices in the coming year. A beta version will be available sooner.
Why would a mobile developer choose Motorola's IDE over Google's Android SDK? Christy Wyatt, Motorola's vice president of software platforms and ecosystems, said the difference is that MotoDev Studio is a full IDE, not just an SDK.
“Android is a vehicle for innovation; it's not the innovation itself,” Wyatt said. For example, she said that MotoDev Studio will let developers optimize applications for various hardware capabilities, such as 3-D graphics using OpenGL, let developers optimize the user experience for different types of customers, and better manage development of apps for different devices and customers.
But Wyatt is quick to note that MotoDev Studio is not limited to Motorola devices, so it could be used for broad Android development, not just for Motorola-oriented mobile development. (The MotoDev technology also forms much of the basis for Eclipse's Pulsar, she noted.) “We fundamentally don't believe in walled gardens,” she said. “There is nothing in our technology that would pull apps from [running on] other devices and make them work only on Motorola devices.”
Motorola's approach contrasts with Verizon's planned IDE, which is only for apps to be sold through Verizon's app store, and will include enhanced APIs for BlackBerry apps sold through Verizon, according to a spokeswoman.
Developers in Motorola's App Accelerator Program will also have access to multiple distribution channels, such as the Android Market, carrier app stores, and enterprise-managed installation. Wyatt said the goal is to support developers in whatever markets and distribution channels they want. Although the IDE will have one set of services for all apps, it will also have services that developers will select from based on the apps' needs, to allow rich but streamlined apps.
“There's a difference between an enterprise user and my 13-year-old daughter,” she said, claiming the MotoDev Studio IDE will help developers satisfy those differences.