Yesterday at the Google Developer Day Training Event in London, Mike Jennings, a Google advocate gave a surprise demonstration of Google’s upcoming Android mobile phone operating system (OS). (I recently discussed the Android ‘OS’ in relationship to the new browser, Chrome, from Google).
The Android OS is still in development, but Mike Jennings pulled a mobile phone covered in masking tape (to hide the phone brand) from his pocket. Speculation has it that a phone referred to as “Dream” manufactured by HTC Corp in Taiwan will be the first phone to use the new OS when its released, possibly late this year. Jeremy Kirk, of the IDG News Service reported “the device looked similar to HTC’s Dream”.
Jennings used the Android SDK (software development kit) to create an extremely simple application: a blue dot that bounced within the phone’s ample screen space and moved as the phone was tilted, showing the device has an accelerometer, also a feature in Apple’s iPhone.
An accelerometer is a device which detects motion, so if the phone is tilted one way, objects on the screen will move in that direction as if they were rolling downhill. Other phones have used accelerometers to allow simple hand gestures to activate features. For example, turning the phone face-up when it rings can answer a call, while turning the phone face down can end a call, and shaking the phone can swap calls on call waiting or activate a speakerphone. (See demo video below.) Famously, the Nintendo Wii uses an accelerometer in its game controllers to allow players to swing the controller as they might a tennis racket or paddle when playing video games instead of using joysticks or toggles.
Those wondering “What’s new about Android?” that the iPhone or other phone’s haven’t done? The big news is that companies, other than Google, developing software for the new operating system will have access to the code. Other OS providers such as Microsoft and Apple haven’t provided outside companies that much access to their code, which has resulted in some “buggy” applications. The Android system is part of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA):
…a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies who have come together to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience. Together we have developed AndroidTM, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform.
We are committed to commercially deploy handsets and services using the Android Platform in the second half of 2008. An early look at the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) is now available.
Included among the OHA members are HTC, Sprint NexTel, LG, Motorola, Samsung, T-Mobile, eBay, Google, Broadcom, Intel, nVidia, Qualcomm, Marvell, Synaptics, and Texas Instruments, Inc. Apple and Microsoft are not members of the alliance.
Here’s a video of Mike Jennings demo yesterday at Google Developer Day in London.
Here’s a demo video featuring one of Google’s founders and President, Sergey Brin, and Steve Horowitz, Google’s Engineering Director.
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