IMAGINE A PHONE YOU CAN CONTROL--really control--from its opening screen. Imagine a phone that let you see whether your friends were within a half mile. Imagine a phone whose desktop you can set up quickly and manage efficiently. Imagine having a phone that can provide "access to information to users wherever they are," a goal of Andy Rubin, the developer. Google hopes to deliver such a phone by providing an operating system that others can use to set up and manage. This is part of Android, the much-awaited Gphone. Google plans to give away its software to handset manufacturers. The idea behind the giveaway is (1) software developers and content distributors will design applications for it and (2) Google will be on the ground floor of the mobile advertising market. If this giveaway succeeds, it will put Open Source code in the pockets of millions of smart phone owners around the world. Moreover, some of the software invited onto the handsets will make smartphones more like mobile personal computers. It's something I'm watching first-hand while helping a college student select the technology he will use to combat his increasing blindness. If he has a choice, he would rather take his notes onto handheld phones that can offer him zoomable fonts and that can read him documents. There are good profits in this kind of market, not only for the special user like a visually-challenged student, but also for anyone interested in getting more than voice conversation out of their mobile phones.
Here are the key points about the phone:
* Android does not differentiate between the phone's core applications and third-party applications. They can all be built to have equal access to a phone's capabilities.
* Users will be able to fully tailor the phone to their interests. They can swap out the phone's homescreen, the style of the dialer, or any of the applications.
* A developer can combine information from the web with data on an individual's mobile phone -- such as the user's contacts, calendar, or geographic location. With Android, a developer could build an application that enables users to view the location of their friends and be alerted when they are in the vicinity giving them a chance to connect.
* The phone allows devices to communicate with one another enabling rich peer-to-peer social applications.
The gPhone will be coded on the open Linux Kernel, but the rest of Android will be covered by the Apache v2 license. You could program the gPhone platform in C or with Java. Wind River, one of the partners in the gPhone Alliance has a library of C programs and they market a commercial Eclipse-based C development system. Another partner, Esmertec, says “beyond Open Source of Android, Esmertec’s leading edge Jbed Java Virtual Machine (JVM) platform can easily be made commercially available per customer request for the Alliance ’s mobile platform.” Jbed lets you run standard Java ME applications, but it’s not open source.
Jyri Engestrom -- "Android is out"
John Markoff -- "I, Robot: The Man Behind the Google Phone"
Andy Rubin -- "Where's my Gphone?"Probably being coded with the SDK.
Open Handset Alliance -- What would your magic phone do? [One minute MP3.]
Robin Blandford -- "OpenSocial will meet Jaiku who will meet the G-Phone. Talk about power."