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The Google Phone: Understanding Android

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Android is the basis for a new generation of smart web-based phones. Michael Miller takes a look at what Android is and what the first Google phone will look like.

IN THIS CHAPTER

  • What Is Android?
  • Examining the HTC Dream: The First Google Phone
  • A Final Word

In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone, a revolutionary take on the traditional smartphone. This led to rumors of a “Google phone” to compete with the iPhone, especially in the realm of web-based applications and services.

But Google isn’t a hardware company, as Apple is, and had no interest in manufacturing or selling a phone itself. Google did, however, see tremendous profit potential in the mobile market, but from selling advertising tied to mobile services, not from selling phone hardware. This, then, was to be the “Google phone”—not a mobile phone but rather a mobile platform on which Google could port its many web-based services and break into the mobile advertising market.

This new mobile platform was dubbed Android—and is the basis for a new generation of smart web-based phones from a variety of global manufacturers.

What Is Android?

Android is not a mobile phone; it’s software, not hardware. Specifically, Android is a software platform and operating system for a variety of mobile devices. It was developed jointly by Google and the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 34 hardware, software, and telecom companies.

The Android project was unveiled on November 5, 2007, shortly after Apple’s release of the first-generation iPhone. Android is based on the Linux operating system; software developers write programs for Android using a Java-like scripting language.

The Android platform supports a wide variety of connectivity technologies, including GSM/EDGE, CDMA, Bluetooth, and WiFi. It supports both text (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) messaging, and includes an open-source web browser. Android also supports a variety of audio/video/photo formats, including JPG, PNG, GIF, MP3, AAC, MPEG-4, and H.264. It can also accommodate touchscreen input, video/still cameras, and GPS technologies.

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