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May 29, 2008

Google Makes Changes; Demonstrates Android

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The Google (News - Alert) I/O developer’s conference made waves as Google provided updates on several of its Web-related initiatives and a demo of its Android software for mobile devices.

Considering the growing demand in the mobile industry, Google’s solution should be highly anticipated – that is if the company can grab some of the iPhone (News - Alert) attention away from Apple.
An unnamed manufacturer provided the prototype phone to demonstrate the Android (News - Alert) software during the keynote. The device offered a touch screen display and a startup screen features colorful icons for launching programs and Web services, including Gmail. 
According to Google mobile platforms director, Andy Rubin, some of the feature shown today were shown publicly for the first time. The Android software is the result of development at Rubin’s company, Android.

Google bought the company in 2005 and the software is the centerpiece of Google’s Open Handset Alliance (News - Alert) (OHA). This organization aims to create an open source mobile platform for developers.

Upon the completion of the Android, OHA’s goal is to make the solution available on a wide variety of handsets. This is expected to give developers a far easier, more standardized way to distribute mobile applications.

During the demonstration, Google used the demo phone to show Google’s Street View along with a compass feature that allows the user to change his or her view as they turned with the device.

Rubin is sticking to his claim that Android-powered phones will be available the second half of 2008. He also emphasized Android as a complete software stack with all the security and features to produce a new generation of mobile phones.
"Many of the devices used today are based on 20-year-old platforms, when security wasn't really thought about," he said during the conference. "Starting from a clean slate has its advantages. This is a platform that will let the carriers to more innovative things."

There is also still the possibility that Android could be adapted to run on existing phones if the provider or developer seeks a partnership.

During the conference, Google also confirmed that it is now opening up the preview release of its hosted App Engine developer platform to anyone willing to give it a try. Since its announcement last month, the company has limited participation to a waiting list that grew to 75,000 on top of another 75,000 already registered.

Google’s Web browser plug-in will drop the ‘Google’ name and will be known only as Gears. The plug-in is now more broadly focused on advancing the Web as an open source project powered by developers on all sides.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC (News - Alert) and has also written for Market Drive News. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.

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