Today, Google, T-Mobile, and HTC came together to introduce the first phone running the Google mobile OS, Android, at a press conference held this morning in New York City. The overall message was one that focused on openness. But will the future of the mobile internet be driven by open platforms? That's what Google is betting on with Android, but more importantly, it's what T-Mobile is hoping will stop the flood of customers leaving their service for AT&T's iPhone. To entice customers away from the iPhone, we now have the G1, a slick alternative with a touchscreen and an app store of its own. The companies want you to believe the G1 is just as good, if not better, thanks to the real QWERTY keyboard and the open nature of the Google OS. Now that we have all the facts, are you convinced?
Officials from all three companies took turns introducing various aspects about the new phone, now officially being called the "T-Mobile G1 With Google." Sergey Brin and Larry Page from Google even made a surprise appearance to talk about Android's importance. After some initial introductions and setup, they showed the phone and its features in a promotional video. What we learned from that video is listed below:
Features Demoed In The Promo Video:
- Touchscreen - You can swipe across the screen, use a long press to access more features, drag-and-drop
- Music - one-click ordering from Amazon confirmed
- Music player is built in - one long press lets you access more features, like song options
- Gtalk IM included
- Address book can take you right into Google Maps
- Google Maps: Directions/Traffic View/Street View; can do panning in Street View thanks to the touch screen
- In "Compass Mode" the scene moves as you do
- In the web browser, there are onscreen controls to zoom in
- You can open multiple web pages in Google's browser
- There's a search button on keyboard
- A long press lets you share a link (URL) from within the web browser
- For apps, there's the Android Market, complete with user ratings and OTA downloads
Q&A From The Press
Q: Status of T-Mobile's 3G network?
A: Will be in 22 markets by commercial launch data (October 22nd) and by mid-November it will be in 27 markets
Q: Will the phone be available in Europe?
A: There are 30 million U.S. customers and 100 million customers in the European market, so yes, it will come to Europe. It will be in the UK in early November and will be across Europe by 1st Quarter, 2009
Q: Can you use the phone as tethered modem?
Q: Can you buy just a data plan only?
Q: Can you view office documents?
A: You can read Word, PDF, and Excel docs
Q: Will it work with Microsoft Exchange?
A: There is no Exchange compatibility, but this is an excellent opportunity for a 3rd party developer.
Q: Can the phone be unlocked and used on other networks?
A: No, the phone is SIM-locked
Q: Is email push?
A: Gmail is push/IMAP supported
Q: Will there be a desktop app?
Q: Does the phone work over Wi-Fi?
Q: What's the marketing plan?
A: Google and T-Mobile are working together to produce both TV and in-channel marketing which will debut in October. It will be the biggest campaign ever for a mobile device.
Q: Is the browser Chrome?
A: No, it is Web-Kit, which is "Chrome-like"
Q: Who's the target demographic?
A: The phone has mass appeal, there's something for everyone, but it's more of a consumer device.
Q: Will it work with iTunes?
A: It supports standard music formats like AAC, WMA, MP3, but not anything wrapped in DRM.
Pricing and Availability
The phone is less expensive than the iPhone! It's only $179.
Existing T-Mobile customers can order online on a micro-site and have shipped to their homes. October 22nd is the commercial launch date when it will be available in stores. There will be 2 plans. One is $25 for unlimited web and some messaging; the other is $35 for unlimited web and unlimited messaging. (In addition to whatever voice plan is selected).
The Open Platform
From the Google blog post about Android, we learn that there's now a new version of the SDK: Android 1.0 SDK R1. With this SDK, Android developers can tap into the hardware and software capabilities of the device, allowing them the ability to "develop more freely," Google says. This is just the opposite of what Apple allows with iPhone, a device so locked down there's not even a copy-and-paste function.
Developers will be able to distribute their apps through the Android Store, a place that will deliver the apps over-the-air to the handset, but where developers won't face the same kind of restrictions as they do with Apple. There won't be Android apps being blocked, pulled, or killed, from what it sounds like. And thanks to the Android Developer Challenge, there are already more than 1,700 applications available for the phone as of now.
Today's launch of Android on T-Mobile is only the beginning. By the end of the year, the Open Handset Alliance will open source the entire Android platform, which will allow Android to run on any wireless carrier or handset.
Note: Stay tuned. We'll update this post with some more video and images shortly.
See more Android images in the slideshow below:
New Android Videos: