The Android release of the JIL Widget Manager came out a little while ago with support for Android 1.6 and 2.1. You can download the Android (or Nokia S60) runtime here, listed under “Widget Run-Times”.
Installing the widget manager and runtime is pretty straightforward. You download the .apk file to your sd card, then install it as an Android app. (Installed as the “Apps” application). From there you can open .wgt files (using a file browser like Astro) and promptly install them with the widget manager. Configuration is more flexible on this runtime as it seems able to install JIL 1.2.x and 1.0 based widgets as well as Opera based widgets.
Now you are rocking the JIL widget manager on Android, time to see what it can do.
The Android version of the JIL runtime and widget manager seems to be built upon Opera Mini’s widget manager with extra support for JIL baked in. This also means it’s a presto based rendering engine (unlike LiMo’s widget manager). Webkit would of been a much better renderer to go with in my honest opinion (like on LiMo’s runtime renderer), but building upon and leveraging the Opera runtime it can provide some extra capabilities for developers such as remote debugging (with Opera 9.64) and a baked in widget manager.
All in all I’m still very giddy to get my hands on this upcoming widget manager.
Performance and Usability
Keep in mind this is a debug enabled release and is still being developed and extended. Performance seems to vary with widgets sometimes taking way too long to load, then again loading nice and fast. Aside from that, testing on a Nexus One with Android 2.1, the UI seems responsive and is, for lack of a better word browser like. Although I must nitpick the fact that scrolling stops as soon as you lift your finger off the screen, not allowing for that “flick like” scrolling on native applications.
Accelerometer, preferences and launching applications seem to function to spec.
*Update* So does Geo positioning (if your GPS is turned on!).
CSS media queries do work but I found that on the Nexus One (at least) the widget manager calculates the screen PPI as ~240 (media queries catch at 240 min PPI). I can only speculate on why the PPI is different. However this does make creating media queries with confidence difficult, as there is no definitive viewport resolution/measurements. Which also means any device specs can not be used as a proper reference.
However, others have done a lot more in depth testing and there seems to be quite a bit of bugs/issues with the current (debug) release. Have a look at the http://jil.org forums to keep up to date on the latest developments/bugs.
The Bottom Line
Now that Vodafone support is starting to stretch even further across multiple platforms (including Android, Symbian and LiMo) it’s a huge win for Vodafone (and JIL) as well as developers. Just the reach of Android devices in the wild proves a big step forward for JIL platform adoption and the mobile widget movement itself.
I’m looking forward to future releases of the Android runtime and shall be on the lookout. If you want to as well a great blog to keep in your feeds is Vodafone’s mobile widget developers blog where announcements are posted including runtime releases.
* Update *
Upgraded my Nexus One to Android 2.2 Froyo and (as noted by Vodafone) there is no support. Though I do hope there is support asap (all other apps including Opera Mini work), as a lot of new devices are getting updated or coming out running 2.2 stock.