Notes of interest on Google's Android announcement

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Google's launch of the Android mobile phone platform on Monday has been followed by a slew of updates and reactions, including from Apple. Some notes of interest follow.

  • Android is not an announcement pertaining to any one piece hardware such as a Google gPhone. Instead, Google hopes Android will spawn "thousands of gPhones." The company is not ruling out its own device running Android at some point but is not announcing anything today.
  • Android's code will be made available for free "under one of the most progressive, developer-friendly open-source licenses," the company says. The core is based on Linux but can use Java for some of its programs. A 200MHz ARM9 processor is the only practical minimum requirement, so most any design should work.
  • A key component of the Android platform is a "very robust" Web browser, though the company would not say which software it would use. However, Google currently contributes to Mozilla's Firefox web browser.
  • T-Mobile plans to announce its first device running Android for the US and Europe sometime in 2008. Sprint has not committed to a timeframe but says Android "aligns" with plans for its Xohm WiMAX Internet service next year.
  • HTC will release its first Android supported device in the second half of 2008. The company has not named the device, but Forbes speculates that the device may be an upcoming phone codenamed the "Dream."
  • The Dream is said to include a touchscreen that swivels to reveal a keyboard and is responsive to the duration of a press rather than just the location. Like the iPhone, common services like YouTube would be accessible from the top level of the interface. The device is only under consideration at the moment but would arrive in time for Android's debut, says HTC chief Peter Chou.
  • Most of Google's partners today don't expect Android to completely replace existing options; HTC says it will continue to release devices with Windows Mobile alongside the Google platform. Competitors such as Microsoft and OS developer Symbian dismiss the effort, however.
  • "It really sounds that they are getting a whole bunch of people together to build a phone and that's something we've been doing for five years," says Microsoft's Windows Mobile marketing general manager Scott Horn.
  • Apple has been placed in a unique position by Android; Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, currently sits on Apple's board of directors and so has some input on the direction of the iPhone. The company is not concerned about the change, according to Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris.
  • "We have a great relationship with Google and this doesn't change anything," she says. "They are certainly an important partner for iPhone."