First Look at the Next Generation Android Mobile Development Platform

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Zoom_mdpZoom_mdp Are you dreaming of becoming an indie software developer for the next wave of Android phones or building an Android-capable device and don’t have Big Phone testing resources?  How about developing apps to load on a jail-broken Android Palm Pre?  All of these desires may soon be slaked by the Zoom OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform (MDP), debuting at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona today.

Traditional development kits have been tethered to test benches and are distinctly, er, functional in their aesthetics.  The photo below compares a standard development board (on the right) with the Zoom MDP and its debug board (on the left).Zoom_mdp_comp_dev_kit_2Zoom_mdp_comp_dev_kit_2

This truly mobile development kit with a consumer-level finish is the result of a partnership between Texas Instruments  and Minneapolis-based Logic. Testing GPS location based apps, cell capabilities, and Roller Coaster g-force metrics is now made more simple for the application developer.  You won’t see it on retail shelves but Logic allowed GeekDad to preview the Zoom MDP before the unveiling. 

It is likely that the apps you buy for your Android phone later this year will be built and tested with one of these.  The web-enabled phones releasing in late 2009 and early 2010 could be prototyped on the Zoom MDP.  The video after the jump shows the Zoom MDP in action. I was unable to verify phone or internet functionality in my time with the Zoom MDP, but the startup, touchscreen and keyboard inputs functioned without a hitch.

More photos and details after the jump

TI’s OMAP 3430 on a System on Module (SOM) designed by Logic is the heart of the Zoom MDP.  Full wireless connectivity via Bluetooth 2.0 w/EDR, Wifi a/b/g and FM TX/RX comes on a single chip with Navilink GPS.  A 3G modem is optional.  Two accelerometers, navigation button, QWERTY keyboard and a 4.1" WVGA TFT multi-touchscreen allow multiple tactile inputs. HDMI and video out allow sharing of the photos created with the 8 megapixel camera or loaded onto the SD card. The photos below show the front and back of the Zoom MDP’s internal components, including the SOM and accelerometers.

Zoom_mdp_internal_rearZoom_mdp_internal_rearZoom_mdp_internal_frontZoom_mdp_internal_front

"The new OMAP™ platform is based on the market’s first broad offering of the ARM® Cortex™-A8 core to provide an unprecedented combination of laptop-like performance at handheld power levels in a single chip. With more than four times the processing power of today’s 300MHz ARM9 devices, the superscalar 600 MHz Cortex-A8 core is integrated into four new OMAP35x applications processors." link 

The Zoom MDP connects to an included hardware debug kit via a 200 pin connector. The debug board carries additional connections. Zoom_mdp_debug2_2Zoom_mdp_debug2_2

The Android store opens this week, are you ready?

Specs:
·    4.1″ WVGA multi-touch display with a QWERTY keypad in a landscape, handheld form factor
·    High performance OMAP3430 applications processor that supports up to 720p HD video encode/decode
·    Support for popular leading mobile operating systems, including Android Mobile Platform, Linux, LiMo, Symbian OS and Microsoft® Windows® Mobile
·    Wireless connectivity technology from TI, including WiLink™ 6.0 (WL1271), a single chip with Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® and FM; and NaviLink™ GPS functionality
·    8-megapixel camera sensor
·    Optional 3G modem solution, as well as flexibility to support any third party modem through an extension card
·    In the future, an optional DLP Pico projection module will be available, taking mobile content from “tiny screen” viewing to a shareable “big screen” format

Wired: Releases mobile Android app development into the wild.  Fast, energy-efficient, feature-rich.

Tired:  Priced beyond the reach of hobby developers at $1150-1399. The Pico projector module is still behind the curtain.

Logic 

Texas Instruments 

Android 

OMAP SOM-LV 

Get the Official GeekDad Books!