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Google announces open source operating system for smartphones

Ed Hardy

After months of rumours and speculation, Google has officially announced Android, an operating system for mobile devices it is developing in partnership with a wide variety of companies.

Despite today's announcement, devices running this open-source OS aren't expected to be on the market until the second half of next year.

Although Google appears to be taking the lead in this project, it won't be developing this operating system by itself. Instead it will be created by the Open Handset Alliance. Other companies currently participating include Intel, TI, Sprint, T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Wind River, and 26 more.

According to a statement from the group:

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"This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today's mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers."

More about Android

This group is going to create Android, a Linux-based operating system that will be open to third-parties to create applications using Java.

Because this operating system will be open source, the Alliance hopes it will be extended to incorporate new technologies as they emerge.

In addition, the group will be developing middleware as well as key mobile applications. Many of these are likely to tie into Google's services, like Gmail and Google Maps.

Very open to applications

The Open Handset Alliance idea is to make devices that are easy to customise to meet whatever the users' needs are. Developers will be able to create software that can call upon any of the phone's core functionality such as making calls, sending text messages, or using the camera.

Android will not differentiate between the phone's core applications and third-party applications. Users will be able to swap out the phone's homescreen, the style of the dialler, or any of the applications.

On November 12, the Alliance will release an early look at the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) to allow developers to start building applications.

More about the Open Handset Alliance and Android can be found at www.openhandsetalliance.com.