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Google lets you code for Googlephones on Googlephones

Android's mobile scripting kit

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Google has introduced an Android scripting environment that lets you code stuff for the Googlephone on the Googlephone.

It's called, well, the Android Scripting Environment. ASE, for short. It sits on the Android handset itself, giving coders the power to write and run scripts in Python, Lua, and BeanShell - without help from a PC. Google thinks that coding full-fledged Android apps on a PC is like heaven on earth, but it's still interested in giving developers the power to code on the run.

"Android's development environment makes life pretty easy, but you're tied to a computer to do your work," reads a blog post from Googler Damon Kohler. "ASE lets you develop on the device itself using high-level scripting languages to try out your idea now, in the situation where you need it, quickly."

The new scripting environment gives you access to many - but not all - of the APIs available to full-fledged Android apps. Scripts can make phone calls, send text messages, scan bar codes, poll location and sensor data, use text-to-speech, and more. As an example, Kohler shows off a script designed to prevent an Android phone from running when it's placed face-down.

Google Android Scripting Environment

Android scripting on Android

You can run scripts interactively in a terminal, launch them as long-running background services, or run them via Locale, a third-party Android app and developer platform that changes the Googlephone's behavior depending on where it's, yes, located.

With BeanShell, you can access Android's Java API directly. With Lua and Python, you tap the API via JSON RPC calls to a proxy. At some point, Google will also offer scripting with Ruby and Javascript as well.

The environment has not been published to the Android Market, Google's answer to the iPhone App Store, but the company says it will be soon. In the meantime, you can download an alpha here. The open-source project page also includes sample scripts and documentation. ®

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