T-Mobile has just pulled the covers off the G1, the world's first mobile device powered by Google's Android operating system.
The device, which is manufactured by HTC, combines full touch screen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard with a mobile Internet experience that includes Google Maps Street View, Gmail, Calendar, YouTube, Google Talk and others. It measures 116 x 54 x 16mm and weighs about 160 grams.
The G1 also uses a WebKit browser, which was referred to as 'Chrome Lite' during the press conference. The functionality of the browser will be fairly similar to the iPhone browser – it renders web pages as it would on a PC, but you're able to zoom in on parts of web pages that you want to read.
However, unlike the iPhone, the G1's web search functionality is exposed with just a single touch.
From the demos we've seen, the device's interface looks pretty slick and some of the features look potentially interesting. For example, access to Amazon's MP3 store will be available on the device, where there are over six million DRM-free tracks to purchase and download with a single click. The store will require a WiFi connection in order to download tracks—just like the iPhone—but unlike the iPhone, you're able to browse the store anywhere with network coverage.
However, arguably the biggest feature though is the device's open sourceness – users will be able to tinker with and develop software for the G1 and other Android-based devices and share them on the Android Market. The G1 is also the first phone to include access to the Android Market which Sergey Brin, one of Google's founders, referred to as the "App Store" during his brief talk at the press conference. Oops.
Other noteworthy features include a 3.2in screen with a 480 x 320 HVGA resolution, which matches the iPhone's screen, and the device also includes a 3.1MP camera that includes photo sharing capabilities. However, there's no flash and no video recording capabilities, along with a complete lack of cut and paste functionality - at least it's not just the iPhone that lacks this feature. There's also no Microsoft Exchange support, but there is Push Email support for Gmail - some have suggested that Exchange support may follow later down the line though.
I guess the good thing is that Android's open sourceness will enable the community to 'fix' any problems with the device. Take note, Apple.
T-Mobile says the device will be available in limited quantities both at retail and online in the US from 22nd October for $179 with one of two, two-year voice and data plans (believed to be priced at $25 and $35). The mobile phone operator also added that it'll be coming to the UK in early November and then across Europe in the first quarter of 2009. Confirmed countries in Europe include Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Holland. No pricing information was given for the device outside of the US.
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