The Android operating system is seeing some impressive adoption and sales rates. A lot of phone and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs, like the Nokia N810 and Lenovo U8) manufacturers are starting to use Android as the main OS on their new devices. May 2010 has seen more Android powered devices being sold than even iPhones, which says a lot about them.
The benefits for the manufacturers are obvious: by choosing an open source, free and collectively managed OS, they cut costs and save millions by not having to develop and maintain their own operating system. The Open Handset Alliance and a big community of open source developers take care of everything, from the drivers to device compatibility and application development. User feedback plays another important role in the development and maintenance of the Android OS.
The current version (2.1, code name Éclair) of Android are relatively problem-free (on the same level as the iPhone OS and Palm WebOS, crashes occur mainly because of bad third party apps), have a good developed interface, are easy to use and have a big database of apps on the marketplace, which is exactly what most users need.
At first, Android was used mainly by developers, coders and business people who needed the power and flexibility of the OS. But later, in September-November 2009, we started seeing a lot of new smart phones running Android, which signified that the OS was ready for the masses. By then, there were thousands of good quality apps on the marketplace (a lot of which are free), and anyone from a graphic designer to an entrepreneur and gamer could find, download and use what they needed.
High quality games were the last thing to start appearing on the marketplace, mainly because of the complexity of OpenGL 2.0 graphics and the unavailability of drivers for mobile video chips. But once those issues were sorted out, we started seeing some of the best games appearing for the Android, too. A lot of them have the same graphics quality as their iPhone counterparts, and are light years beyond what Windows Mobile has (or had, because now it’s dead . Here are some of the best games for the Android operating system.
This is one of the best flight simulators for the iPhone and Android devices. The 3D graphics are very good, on par with a lot of PSP or Nintendo DSi games, and the controls are also good. The game uses the phone’s accelerometer for control, so you control your plane by moving the phone. The game play is very well done; you get in the seat of some of the best World War 2 planes, armed to the teeth with machine guns and bombs. The missions vary from bombing land bases and war cruisers to hunting down submarines by exploring every inch of the patch of ocean below you.
Battle for Mars.
This is a great turn based strategy for Android devices, with a lot of unit types, maps and weapons. You fight alien races using your own soldiers, robots and spaceships. The maps vary from forests to mountains to deserts and sea. The controls are good and rely heavily on the touch screen. The game is best played with the biggest possible resolution on your screen, because it allows more things to be displayed at the same time.
Raging Thunder 2.
Until Need for Speed Shift for Android comes out, Raging Thunder 2 is the best 3D racing game for this operating system. And it’s very good, the graphics and controls can stand their own against NFS Shift for iPhone, and that says a lot. The game itself is pretty standard, you get a lot of vehicles to drive on a lot of maps, but that has never stopped racing and car lovers to enjoy these games over the last 2 decades. If you like racing and automobiles, this game is definitely for you.
This is, of course, the Android version of the popular puzzle game, which by now has had over 300 million downloads on Windows, Mac, Facebook (yes, there’s an online app version), iPhone and Android combined. And if so many people like it, it must be good, right? Yes, it’s actually a very addictive game, and those damn disappearing gems just don’t let go of you, making you want to play more and more .
Another twist on racing games, this time with boats. Wave Blazer is actually a pretty unique game for Android and iPhone, as there aren’t that many boat racing games available for the desktop or portable consoles like the PSP. The game play and controls follow the same rule as Raging Thunder: lots of great boats and maps and steering using the accelerometer. It’s a great game, and it’s very replayable, too.
Colorix is an amazingly addictive and beautiful game for Android and iPhone. It’s basically like Tetris, only instead of falling blocks it features rolling orbs. Despite not being 3D, the graphics are absolutely top notch: the backgrounds and those orbs look very nice and shiny, and the game is infinitely replayable (just like Tetris). You simply have to try this one out – that’s all I have to say.
There are a lot of other games coming out for Android this year. Stay tuned for Need for Speed Shift and Project Chronos, which promise to be the best 3D games for Android with the best graphics and controls. And of course, there are tens (or maybe hundreds) more games on the Android Apps Marketplace, just search for the genre you like and check all of them out.