All you need to know about Google's Android

For Android to succeed, Google will have to build a head of steam behind it, and get operators and application builders to accept it.

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No Google phone exists yet, but the search giant's announcement of an open platform for mobile-phone apps is a step in the right direction. So when will we see the so-called Android phones from members of the newly founded Open Handset Alliance? We'll dig into those and more of the key questions surrounding Google's phone platform in this FAQ. Be sure to check back for updates as the story evolves.

Will a Google Phone ever be made?

Google's chair and CEO Eric Schmidt won't officially say. But Schmidt does say that if all goes as planned, we'll likely see many "Google phones" from a variety of wireless carriers. He also says that once software developers create a mature Android OS, it would be a prime time for Google to release a gPhone.

What has been announced so far?

The release of the Android platform and the launch of the Open Handset Alliance were the two most substantive news items to come out of Monday's press conference.

So what is this Android?

Android is a Linux-based mobile software platform that Google hopes will be the operating system of mobile phones in the future. It will compete with platforms such as Apple's OS X on the iPhone, the BlackBerry OS, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, and the Palm OS.

Google announced the Android platform along with other members of the Open Handset Alliance, a group of 34 hardware and software companies plus wireless carriers committed to creating open standards for mobile devices.

The Android platform, according to OHA, is free software available under the Apache open-source license. On November 12, a software developer's kit (SDK) will release to developers. This will be the first chance for people to see an early incarnation of the OS.

When will I be able to buy a Google-powered phone?

The first Android phones are expected to be available to consumers in the second half of 2008. The most likely candidates to release Google-powered phones are the wireless carriers that are part of OHA - T-Mobile and O2 in the UK, and Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile in the United States

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