Yesterday, Google announced the “Android Open Accessory Toolkit” and this announce got me really excited.
iPhone already supports accessories, but as you will discover very fast if you actually try to hook up an accessory to an iPhone the official way : it’s a pretty damn close ecosystem they’re offering here. You need some special hardware, pay licenses to apple, and the communication with the device is very limited. Thus although it has been around for over a year now, few devices have actually emerged around the iPhone.
Contrary to Apple, Google has taken an open approach to this question using low-cost and easy-to-use components such as the Arduino platform as core of their Development kit. I’ve been toying with Arduino to build a quadcopter and the platform is really amazing by both its power and simplicity to hook up with the external world thus making it the platform of choice for quick prototyping. Doing accessories for Android was already feasible but with this SDK the bar has been lowered a lot for would-be developers / hackers to come up with incredible stuff!
This moves is definitely smart, and I can’t wait to see the first projects taking advantage of this capability.