When the iPhone SDK launched and the platform was opened to native applications, it was huge news. No longer limited to cruddy web apps, developers flocked to the platform and the App Store exploded.
Last night, Google announced that developers were now free to develop native applications for the Android platform. Unfortunately, this move isn’t nearly as monumental.
Unlike the iPhone’s web apps, the non-native applications that run on Android are actually quite capable. Android apps generally run inside of a virtual shell called “Dalvik”, allowing improved compatibility across devices without hindering the functions supplied by the platform. Native applications are a big tradeoff; they can perform better and can make use of C/C++ code, but require significantly more work for the same functionality and device portability.
In other words: don’t expect the Market to fill with goodies because of this, but some apps might make use of it in time.