Government // Mobile & Wireless
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Todd Ogasawara
Todd Ogasawara
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Microsoft on{X} For Android: A Visual Tour

Microsoft--yes, Microsoft--has a new Android programming platform called on{x} and it's great. Developed by the Microsoft R&D team in Israel, on{x} lets anyone turn an Android phone into an uber event-driven notification gadget.
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on{x} is an Android app and companion website from Microsoft that lets you add notification capabilities to your Android phone. You simply download the on{x} app to your phone, then select from among various canned Java scripts (called "recipes") at the on{x} website. These scripts remotely program your phone to take actions when certain events occur. For example, you could have your phone automatically send a "Coming home" text to your significant other when you leave work, or tell you to take an umbrella when rain is in the forecast. You can write your own scripts or customize the canned ones to make your phone do other cool things, such as remember where you parked your car.

on{X} does not have all the features of Microsoft's other mobile development platform, TouchDevelop for Windows Phone, which has access to the camera API and even remote speech recognition and OCR servers. However, on{X} provides a much better development environment--the Web--and uses as its underlying language JavaScript, which is familiar to many Web developers.

The two sample images above demonstrate the revolutionary nature of on{x} programming, especially in a language as accessible as JavaScript. On the left are three on{x} events. The first event demonstrates a time-based event, but it also shows that it is easy to access other apps. The second event demonstrates a location-based event, as the program needs to know where you are--although it seems to us that you would want to be reminded to buy milk when you are out, not when you get home. The last event one shows a lot more: It identifies the person from contacts listed as boyfriend, it reads an SMS text, and it uses GPS to get the current location and send a reply text.

The image on the right is from the development environment and shows how on{x} programs can tell whether you are walking, running or driving, and fire off events based on that status.

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