Wanted: Virtual Smartphones
There is a simple solution to this problem. A smartphone is, among other things, a computer, and most of us own computers much more powerful than any smartphone. One of the things a more powerful computer can do is to emulate a less powerful computer. I gather that (at least) Google and Sony-Ericsson have provided, as part of their software developer kits, emulators for Android and the Xperia.
My suggestion is that they should provide emulators, on the web or downloadable, targeted not at developers but at customers. I want an Android G1 on my desktop. Ideally it would not only emulate all of the software, it would also make at least a reasonable effort to emulate connectivity, not for phone calls but for the internet. And, ideally, it would make a reasonable effort to emulate the performance of the actual phone.
Some time back, I bought and then returned a high end smartphone, a Nokia E90. Part of the reason I returned it was the discovery that its word processor would only permit one document at a time to be loaded and took about ten minutes to load a book length document. Two of the things I do with my current smartphone are to read books and to go over my own manuscripts while noting on them things I want to change. That does not work very well if it takes ten minutes to change what book I am looking at. The E90 was supposed to be a much improved version of my current 9300, but in fact had strikingly inferior software, at least for my purposes. If I had had access to a reasonably realistic emulator of the E90 I could have saved myself and the seller the cost and trouble of my buying a phone and then returning it.
I am not sure if the companies producing the phones would want to make emulators available pre-release or not. On the one hand, it lets customers try for some time before they buy, and it might make possible useful feedback. On the other hand, it reduces the excitement of the release. But I can see no good reason why they would not want to make emulators available when the phone is released. Doing that should increase the excitement, since it lets customers get something close to a hands-on experience on the day of release.
Is there a technical problem I'm missing, some reason why it isn't practical to produce a reasonably accurate emulator for a smartphone?
It almost looks as though someone was listening. Not a full implementation, but a step in the right direction. Thank you T-Mobile.