Google's Android Phone Makes Waves

Google's Android-enabled Phone, under development by the Open Handset Alliance, is scheduled for release in the second half of the year.

Andy Rubin, Android's lead developer, gave the crowd at the I/O conference hope that the day will come when carriers allow people to install the software.

"Why wouldn't the carrier want to allow any application to be put on a cell phone?" said Rubin. "So far they've not had a platform robust enough to give them a feeling of security. The platforms today, a lot of them are 20 years old. Now, here we are in the Internet generation, when you build a platform from a clean state you have a chance to think about those things, think about what's going to give the industry, whether an OEM or a carrier, a safety net should malware be produced for these handsets. It's a platform that will enable the carriers to do more innovative things with their services."

The phone is a UMTS handset and the demo was on HSDPA 3.6Mbps, based on a Qualcomm 528MHz processor, with a Synaptics capacitive touch screen and 128MB of RAM and 256MB of flash. The Android's interface and menu structure features a pattern-based unlock screen. Users can create shortcuts by pressing down a finger and going through menus.

The phone will feature tools such as zoom, a compass, site navigation, and Google Maps capabilities. When the first handsets are available, software will be released as open source. The platform was designed to be generic so it will work with touch screen devices, D-pad devices and trackball devices.

The compass allows users to manipulate maps based on which way they are looking and as with Google Maps, display addresses, satellite views and traffic.

Will the Android break Apple's iPhone stranglehold in the market? It's much too early to tell, but even though the 3G iPhone is slated for demo next week, many online posters have said they will wait to purchase a phone until the Android is available.

For their part, Android developers tip their hat to Apple.

"The iPhone sets the bar high and rivals like Samsung's TouchWiz GUI really pile on the pressure," said Android Community team member Vincent Nguyen. "What [Google] has given us is, at first glance, a blend of the successful parts of each of those, together with a dose of Google's own minimalist aesthetic."

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