Mobile device manufacturer Motorola has unveiled a series of initiatives intended to strengthen the use of Java with mobile devices. The company is offering a new toolkit to application developers who work with Java 2 Micro Edition in response to complaints about the current application-programming interface associated with the specification.
Motorola's free Lightweight Windowing Toolkit (LWT) can be used in conjunction with the Mobile Information Device Profile API, which is part of J2ME, to give developers more flexibility with the graphical user interface. With LWT, developers will be able to create interface elements such as buttons, text fields, and images with J2ME applications, while staying true to the overall protocol, according to Mark Patel, senior Java architect with Motorola. "One of the most frequent comments from developers regarding [the Mobile Information Device Profile], was that the API is too limiting."
Motorola also is testing a new graphical user interface for the gaming industry, one of the more lucrative markets for software developers. The company is seeking developers to test a new API for games being designed for mobile devices using Java. "In the past, something real simple like Tic-Tac-Toe or the Snake game was easily feasible," Patel says. "But with J2ME, more complex games become feasible, and we want to stay ahead of that market."
Motorola is also testing the ability to download Java applications to an Internet-enabled cell phone without a cable connection. Using two new J2ME-enabled Motorola phones, the i85s and the i50sx, which are supported by Nextel, the company will make it possible for users to customize their phones by downloading Java applications from a wireless link on both Nextel's and Motorola's Web sites. General availability of over-the-air provisioning is expected in August.
Java seems a natural fit for mobile devices, says Warren Wilson, practice director for analyst firm Summit Strategies. "I am seeing considerable activity around Java and wireless, and Motorola is maybe the largest single company in the list of examples," he says. "Applications promise to become much richer in number, at lower costs, in increased functionality, and increased access and integration with existing enterprise applications and data. Companies that are not planning wireless applications today stand to be left behind as things like Java turn wireless into a tool for driving revenues higher and costs lower."
Another firm pushing Java's use in wireless is iAnywhere Solutions Inc., a subsidiary of database vendor Sybase Inc. IAnywhere is working with Motorola to provide access to its m-Business platform using a Motorola i85s J2ME device to access corporate data, while iAnywhere has partnered with Kada Systems to support the Kada Mobile Platform for Java, according to iAnywhere, to access its platform from Palm OS or PocketPC devices.