Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Google Android

The Google Android operating system was announced on the 5th November 2007 with quite a strong introduction:

"A broad alliance of leading technology and wireless companies today joined forces to announce the development of Android, the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. Google Inc., T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm, Motorola and others have collaborated on the development of Android through the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational alliance of technology and mobile industry leaders."

Any sentence with "open platform", "HTC" and "Qualcomm" in it is sure to excite smartphone fans, but this was something special. A Google phone had been speculated for quite some time in 2007, but this was a better announcement than just a phone, it was the announcement of an open source operating system for a phone. Let's see, what other famous open source range of operating systems are there... Oh yes, LINUX.

In 2008 the first phone to carry the revolutionary Google Android platform (dubbed the HTC "Dream") had all sorts of rumours thrown around about it, and was eventually officially unveiled during a T-Mobile press conference on September 23rd 2008 in New York City. The "Dream" started shipping on October 13th 2008 and was in stores for October 17th 2008 under the name "T-Mobile G1". The G1 hosted so much speculation you would think another iPhone was being released, and with it being released at a price of $199 with T-Mobile (the same price as the iPhone 3G on AT&T) it was a very good competitor to the iPhone...

The revolutionary device featured Google's Android platform,
3G/HSDPA/Wi-fi connectivity, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a fantastic
3.2-inch TFT-LCD HVGA 320x480 touch-screen display, a 3.2MP camera with auto-focus, a micro-SDHC card slot giving it up to 16GB of expandable memory, a Qualcomm MSM7201A processor clocked at 528MHz, 192MB of RAM and 256MB ROM, at the very affordable price of $199 with a contract (not sure on the price) with T-Mobile USA, or a price of £99 with a £20 contract with T-Mobile UK.

And it gets even better... On the 17th of February 2009 at the Mobile W
orld Congress 2009 trade show in Barcelona, Spain, the second mobile device to use the Google Android platform was announced... The HTC "Magic". It sports the same Qualcomm MSM7201A 528MHz processor as the G1, it still has 192MB of RAM, it still has the same 3.2-inch HVGA 320x480 touch-screen display, the same 3.2MP camera w/ auto-focus and still supports up to 16GB expandable memory in the form of a micro-SDHC card and still features 3G/HSDPA connectivity, but now comes with 528MB ROM and is completely touch-screen dependant. Think of the G1 as the HTC Touch Pro, and the Magic is the Touch Diamond. There will be an on-screen keyboard (hopefully with big enough letters to type on without the need of a stylus) similar to the downloadable one on the G1. But will the phone still be offered on T-Mobile?

No, this time it is only available on contract with Vodafone. No prices have been officially announced yet, but it's rumoured it will cost around $149 on a contract with Vodafone US, with no Vodafone UK prices yet. This switch of carrier brings to mind the question: Will HTC/Google make a new phone for each different carrier? Will we see different Android-powered phones available every 6 months on Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Rogers, Sprint, O2 UK and Orange? Or will the Android-family of phones be released sim-free eventually? Who knows...

Although, if you are part of the Android-developer team, you are able to buy the "An
droid Dev Phone 1" for a price of $399. It is essentially a black G1, already unlocked and available straight from Google/HTC but with certain restrictions taken off it and Developer tools installed on it. It is meant for developers to test there applications on actual Android-phones before sending them to the Android app store, but it can be bought and used with any sim card, and still has all the normal features (such as GPRS/EDGE/3G connectivity and all the normal applications).

The future for this amazing open-source platform known as "Android" looks bright, and I'm certainly excited about it, let's see what other phones it brings in the future ;).