android

The Tmobile Google Android Event is today! Check out Gizmodo’s Liveblog for up-to-date information!

If you’re out of the loop and don’t know much about the new Android technology and TMobile G1 (or HTC Dream), check out this post from Boing Boing:

Android
POSTED BY RUSHKOFF, SEPTEMBER 23, 2008 2:08 PM | PERMALINK
I played with Android yesterday. I don’t gush over products. At least not in years. But this one makes me feel a bit like I did when I got my Kaypro. It’s a solid device that hints at the beginning of a “golden age” of solid and reliable smart phone technology.

For those of you as uninformed as I’ve been lately, Android is Google’s new cell phone operating system, coming to you any day now on a phone made by HTC – the folks who have been making the Treo (but without their own name on the case).

I’ve played with a lot of phones, but this is the first true “smart phone” that is as easy to use as an iPhone, Sidekick, or Helio Ocean. Unlike the iPhone, it has a real keyboard that slips out from the bottom (and a bit more effortlessly than the one on my Ocean). Real keys, too, that feel good and click.

Oh, did I forget to mention it? Copy and paste.

The touchscreen interface does everything I could think of, as easily or moreso than the screen on the iPhone. Less of that weird delay-jitter. Extreme clarity. Everything in its place. It’s not like trying to operate a laptop through a two-inch screen.

What I like best about Google’s approach (as compared to some other companies who shall remain nameless) is that they’re creating a site where people can just upload the apps that they’ve written for the phone. No licensing, filtering, or requirements – other than they not be malicious. Further – by writing the code in the “sandbox” fashion of the Chrome browser, applications that screw up are isolated from the rest of the operating system. Programs are separated if they don’t play nicely with others.

My fear (what would a post about Google be without a little fear) is that the openness of the Google world really means openness to Google’s advertisers. The World Bank, for example, forces nations borrowing its money to “open” their markets to foreign investment. This means they have to let multi-national corporations build plants, destroy the environment, compromise local agriculture; whatever low standards the WTO has agreed upon become the standards by which the country has to operate. Is “openness” really an ethos for Google, or just a means to a very particular end? Is what’s good for Google good for the entire communications infrastructure? I’m not so sure.

While I doubt Google will suddenly push ads on the unsuspecting T-Mobile subscriber, I could foresee a Google future in which people get cheaper phone plans for giving Google’s advertisers access to their screens. This could subject those without sufficient funds to buy their way out of marketing to an entirely different communications experience than everyone else.

Still, for the time being, this device, this OS, and the relatively open source model Google is pursuing feels less restrictive, more stable, and just a bit more virtuous than what I’m seeing elsewhere. (Douglas Rushkoff is a guestblogger)

The officials details are finally out! The TMobile G1 is now available for pre-order on the T-Mobile G1 website if you’re an existing T-Mobile customer [Does it count if my parents are?!]. It will be available in retail stores on October 22 and will be sold for $179 with a 2 year voice and data plan agreement. And here are the official features via CNET’s Crave:The Gadget Blog

WiFi, 3G (with dual-band UMTS), multimedia messaging, email support (GMail as well as other POP3 and IMAP email services), instant messaging (with Google Talk as an option of course), full HTML browser, GPS functionality, 3-megapixel camera, the ability to multi-task, a music player with access to the Amazon MP3 store, Bluetooth, and quad-band GSM support. Another very exciting feature (in my opinion) is it has one-click contextual search, which lets you search for anything simply by typing in something with the keyboard. This is very similar to the search feature on the Helio Ocean, in that it can search your contacts as well as the Web just by tapping in a few letters.

As for Google Maps, it will support Google Maps Street View that will let you explore cities as street-level as if you were right there at the street corner. It will also have a built-in compass on the phone and allow you to view locations and navigate 360 degrees by moving the phone around. The aforementioned Amazon MP3 store is also a huge boon for the T-Mobile G1, as all the of songs on Amazon are DRM-free, and you can buy and download the song directly from the store to the device (only if you have a WiFi connection though; you can search, sample, and buy with a cellular connection however). A song is $0.89 while an album is anywhere from $5.99 to $9.99.

Last but not least, the G1 will offer access to the Android Market, which is an application store similar to the iTunes Appstore. Some of the available applications include ShopSavvy, an application that lets you scan the UPC code of a product with the phone’s camera and instantly compare prices with other stores, Ecorio, an application that tracks your carbon footprint, and BreadCrumbz, an application that lets you create a step-by-step visual map using photos. Of course you can also buy games like Namco’s Pac-Man.

It’s important to note that the T-Mobile G1 won’t have Microsoft Exchange support right off the bat, though its open source infrastructure means that can be easily remedied with a third-party application (according to Google anyway). Also, GMail is available as push and yes, you can use it to read MS Office documents and PDFs. There is no stereo Bluetooth, and you can’t use it as a tethered modem. And no surprise here, the G1 is SIM locked to T-Mobile for the time being, though I expect there’ll be efforts to unlock it.

I’m seriously drooling over this phone. I want one in my hands.

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