Next Month Google and T-Mobile are expected to deliver the first mobile device powered by Google’s Android operating system. Android has been the subject of controversy, speculation, and rumor over the last several months. Developers working on applications for Android complained that the SDK (or Software Development Kit) was too difficult to work with, and did not provide the necessary tools for development. Google heard their complaints and responded with an updated SDK. In the last couple of months there has been a wild amount of speculation and rumor that Android would be delayed until the first part of 2009. This proved to be, by and large, groundless rumor-mongering.
Now the T-Mobile phone dubbed the HTC “Dream” is due to hit stores next month, and Google has released a few hundred phones to their own teams for testing in the real world. The Dream features an iPhone-like touch screen that takes up most of the front area of the phone. Integrated below the touch screen are hardware keys for making calls and menu selections, as well as a small trackball that allows a user to quickly navigate menus. Although neither Google nor T-Mobile have confirmed a price, analysts predict it will be set at $199, in direct competition with Apple’s iPhone. You can view video on YouTube of the HTC Dream taken during a demonstration. This video is a few months old, so it’s reasonable to assume that both the software and hardware have seen some significant tweaks.
One of the exciting things about the Android is its fast interface and suite of applications that come loaded with the phone. Early in development of the phone Google announced a contest for developers. Those with the best proposed applications would be awarded $275,000 and their applications would be featured on Android phones, or available for download from Google. The list of winners can be found here.
What does this mean for you?
In a market already saturated with choice (windows mobile devices, palm devices, and-of course-the iPhone), Google’s Android provides you with another option for your mobile device needs. Android promises to deliver a selection of applications that can be downloaded to the phone. Many of these will be free, but paid applications are expected to start arriving sometime next year. The largest benefit of the Google Android platform is in its nature as open-source software. Unlike the iPhone you will not be locked in to a single provider. Although T-Mobile is the flagship carrier of Android phones, the operating system could theoretically be integrated into virtually any phone by any mobile provider. Of course, this means that (eventually) you will not have to switch networks in order to get a mobile device using Android. It is this fact almost more than any other that sets the Android-based device apart from others.
If you would like to learn more about Android take a look at the following sites: