Google Releases Open Source Android Code

"Today is a big day for Android, the Open Handset Alliance, and the open-source community," wrote Google software engineer David Bort on in a blog post on "All of the work that we've poured into the mobile platform is now officially available, for free, as the Android Open Source Project."

The release of the Android code is a prelude to a busy time for Android, which will reach the hands of the public later today when a San Francisco T-Mobile store offers an exclusive presale of the G1, the first Android-based smart phone. The T-Mobile G1 will be available nationwide at 8 a.m. local time Wednesday in areas that have T-Mobile 3G network coverage.

The code's release falls in line with the roadmap for Android developers, which noted the open source code would be available later this year, following last month's release of a Software Development Kit (SDK).

The code package is hefty, hitting 2.1 gigabytes. But its release represents an open, fully featured mobile platform that will allow developers to create a mobile device without restrictions while also building an unending number of applications to run on Android powered devices.

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Along with launching the code, Google said it is planning to add local language support for Android starting with German in 2008 and then adding support for a host of other languages including French, Spanish and Chinese come 2009. Later, Android will also wrap in support for soft keyboard.

In his blog post, Bort noted that while the T-Mobile G1 will be the first Android-based device to hit the streets, the potential for Android is unlimited.

"Android is not a single piece of hardware; it's a complete, end-to-end software platform that can be adapted to work on any number of hardware configurations," he wrote. "Everything is there, from the bootloader all the way up to the applications. And with an Android device already on the market, it has proven that it has what it takes to truly compete in the mobile arena."

Bort said developers can use the code to create a host of new features. The code includes the Linux kernel, the application platform, the system library, graphics and speech-recognition libraries, a media codex and applications such as the browser, dialer and contact manager.

"Have a great idea for a new feature? Add it!" Bort wrote. "As an open source project, the best part is that anyone can contribute to Android and influence its direction. And if the platform becomes as ubiquitous as I hope it will, you may end up influencing the future of mobile devices as a whole."

According to Google, since Android is an open source project, users and developers can contribute by downloading, building and running the code needed to create an Android-based device. Android features a full set APIs that lets the platform host applications written by third-party developers.

"This is an exciting time for Android, and we're just getting started," Bort wrote. "It takes a lot of work to keep up with the changes in the mobile industry. But we want to do more than just keep up; we want to lead the way, to try things out, to add the new features that everyone else is scrambling to keep up with. But we can't do it without your help."

Bort concluded by asking "What will you do with Android?"