Google Walks Through Android OS

With a strong Cupertino influence folded into a more flexible platform Apple may not be sleeping easily.

Next week is going to be all about the 3G iPhone in anticipation of the device’s grand unveiling during Steve Job’s WWDC opening keynote the following Monday, so let’s finish off this week looking at a platform which may yet outgun it…

Google’s Android open source mobile OS is gathering real momentum ahead of its formal launch next quarter and its developer conference this week, ‘Google I/O’, has had jaws hitting floors. Let’s push through some of the highlights…

First up is the unique unlocking system which – unlike the iPhone’s single swipe – lets users choose their own pattern from a nine dot grid. Naturally enough Google chose to trace a ‘G’. With only so many combinations available this certainly isn’t a hack proof approach, but it will discourage colleagues and children (closely linked in my opinion) from messing with your handset if you leave it lying around.

From here Google showed off the new, yep, iPhone-ish homescreen with individual application buttons complete with fluid animations and banding. A full page rending browser will be featured with integrated Gmail (additional to the standard mail app) and calendar all within easy reach. Next was the impressive Google Maps app which not only mimics the iPhone’s gesture based navigation and finger scrolling, but ingeniously incorporates Street View and a built-in compass so you can literally move your phone and it will follow that onscreen. Who needs GPS?!

Lastly Google demoed some of the user applications being developed of which an extremely faithful port of Pacman proved very popular. A strong third party developer community is building for Android and with far more flexible rules than Apple’s iPhone SDK it will be interesting to see if one comes out on top or whether the two will co-exist peacefully. Personally, I’d expect a lot of developers to be working on both platforms.

In related news, rumours are spreading that Android handsets will also come with an third party ‘App Store’ for browsing and downloading these apps similar to the one about to be launched with the iPhone 2.0 firmware. Both Android mobiles and the iPhone really look likely to scrap it out over the next few years so let’s hope Google’s handset builders are up to the task. The OS certainly looks to be…

Google I/O

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links. Tell us what you think – email the Editor