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Feature Articles

Google Android Preview: Too Human?

By Aloysius Low - 17 Jun 2008

Too Human - A Google Android Preview

** Updated on 18th June 2008 **

Too Human - A Google Android Preview

It's not everyday that one gets to have a chat with the guy in charge of Google's Android platform, Mr Andy Rubin, the Senior Director of Mobile Platforms, and overall head honcho for Android related stuff. But what's Android you ask? If you haven't been following the mobile phone scene lately, you'll probably be thinking that Google's building a life-like robot like those found in the Stepford Wives or AI.

Well, it's not.

No, dear readers, Google isn't actually building a life like robot (but we can wish). Instead, Android's a mobile platform for mobile phones from Google that's designed to be open source - thus leading to cheaper handsets since you don't actually have to pay for the operating system license on your mobile. According to Google, that's about 20% of savings which can be passed down to consumers!

Besides being free, being open source also means that applications that are developed for the Android platform will be freely available to everyone (though whether you would have to pay for the application itself will be left to the developers). The application distribution method isn't exactly confirmed as yet and Mr Rubin was pretty shy on revealing details, but he did say the download ranking system would involve something similar to Youtube's star rating system, and would also have other requirements such as number of downloads and number of uninstalls to determine the application's ranking.

Right now, you're probably wondering who's on board the Android express, well, Google's part of the Open Handset Alliance, which comprises of around 34 big name companies around the world like Intel, HTC, LG, Samsung and more. Most of you, we're sure, are familiar with these brand names and you'll be interested to know that the handset manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung will debut their Android-based mobile phones soon.

While we can't provide pictures of the actual handset that was used for demo purposes to showcase the applications that Google showed us, we do have some screenshots of the applications running, and based on what we've seen on the demo unit, Android looks to be giving Windows Mobile and Apples iPhone operating systems a good run for their money.

Google's Android platform is designed around the fact that most modern day phones equipped with a 200MHz (or better) processor will be able to run it easily. Applications are also all designed around this minimum requirement, so applications will work for all phones that meet the minimum requirement. Of course, if you're still holding on to a black and white LCD display phone, well, good luck to you.

Youtube applications like these will provide the full Youtube experience - unlike the iPhone, which is only capable of streaming H.264 videos. While Mr.Rubin declined to answer questions about when will the first Android phone be available, we do know that a few of the companies in the Open Handset Alliance are developing phones, so keep an eye out folks!