Japan bets on Google CE with Android extensions

TechOnline India - August 11, 2009

Riding on Google's fame and momentum, Japanese companies hope to own, seize control of and leverage the Google-developed Android operating system as a key to the future for their consumer devices, by creating a host of extensions to Android.

MANHASSET, NY — The Google Phone might not turn the trick, but "Google CE," its rising son, might provide a badly needed boost to Japan's consumer electronics companies.

Riding Google's momentum in the global market, Japanese companies hope to leverage the Google-developed Android operating system as a key element of future consumer devices.

On Tuesday (Aug. 11), The Open Embedded Software Foundation (OESF), an industry group based in Japan, laid out details of its roadmap for developing Android software stacks on set-top boxes and other consumer devices.

This follows an earlier announcement by MIPS Technologies, which said it is partnering with another unnamed company to develop extensions to the Android operating system to support high-definition video displays.

According to the OESF, Android extensions under development include everything from digital TV and set-tops to IP-based business phones along with automotive and medical embedded systems.

More specifically, the group outlined a host of specific extension examples, including digital TV, Multimedia, DLNA, Bluetooth, remote control, pointing device and network manager extensions as well as a user interface extension.

Under the digital TV extension, for instance, the group is developing a set of APIs that will allow Android-based systems to receive digital TV broadcasts, display EPG and a BML (Broadcast Markup Language) browser and program recording.

A multimedia extension creates a framework for Android-based systems featuring large-screen, high-definition still and motion pictures. The group also is working on DLNA and UPnP stacks specific to Android-based systems.

OESF also is tackling a Bluetooth extension since Bluetooth profiles are not supported by Android. The Japanese group regards Bluetooth as essential for wireless communications in embedded applications like for health care and game consoles.

The remote control extension also will be critical for Android-based consumer devices which do not come with either a keyboard or touch display.

For member companies, OESF's first release based on Android version 1.5 will be ready in November. Public release is slated for February 2010. The release will be available on the Internet as free, open-source software under Apache License 2.0, according to the OESF.

An indication of how much enthusiasm OESF's work is generating among local Japanese companies is the project's codename. OESF's first release, previously dubbed "Blueberry," is in fact an homage to the Japanese fascination for cuteness. Its full name, according to a Japanese language press release, is "BlueberryCupcake."

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