Android Becomes Official

On Tuesday, T-Mobile had their official press conference announcing their new G-1, which is the exact same phone as what HTC has called the Dream, just rebranded by T-Mob. Of course, it appears to have been renamed on HTC’s website, so all I can figure is that they signed a hell of a deal with T-Mobile. Don’t feel bad, Europeans, apparently Deutsche Telekom will also be offering the G1, though that’s not much of a surprise, since they’re owned by T-Mobile.

This is really exciting because we’re finally about to see honest to God Android hardware on the market, in a very short people of time. Unfortunately, many people seem to have mixed feelings about the device. People are upset it doesn’t have Multitouch, though that’s apparently due to patent issues relating to Apple and/or Microsoft. It doesn’t have a headphone jack. Many people don’t like the asthetics, but almost all the complaints I’ve seen are related to people not liking the phone, but mostly liking Android.

I’m not going to lie, I want one. I want one bad. But, I’m not going to switch to T-Mobile, so the $179 price tag for people willing to sign two years with T-Mobile doesn’t entice me. Luckily, Engadget spoke to the CTO of T-Mobile, and T-Mobile won’t stop unlockers, and they’ll be selling an out-of-contract phone for a mere $399. Not bad at all. Of course, they claim they won’t help you unlock the phone for 90 days, but I’m pretty sure that’s bullshit and they can’t enforce that.

Regardless, I like the device. The pictures are all kind of iffy, but I’ve at least read that it’s well constructed, and for me the only real turn off is that the Music Player isn’t that fantastic (which an Android Developer could capitalize on, unlike the iPhone), and the lack of the 3.5” headphone jack. I don’t really want to buy a ExtUSB set of headphones, but I may be forced to. I wonder if the G1 will limit output to my Bluetooth Headset…

In some ways the bigger announcement than the phone, was the available of the 1.0 release of the Android SDK, it’s great to have seen two SDK releases in as many months, and the actual final ABI-stable build of the SDK. I’m definitely going to be playing around with development again, if nothing else to give another reason to convince the wife to let me spend $400 on a phone.

The fact is that Android is in quite a position here. Google and the other members of the Open Handset Alliance have said that they won’t restrict what users install on their own phones, and the behavior exhibited so far lends credence to that. In fact, Google encourages developers to replace functionality in the phone, if they can do it better.

Android has great potential to be a healthy ecosystem, and while the target platform isn’t as stable, there is a reasonable baseline that can be expected. Location Services won’t always be available, but you can be sure that Internet access always will be. You’re not even guaranteed that Media playback will be available, but I suspect most phones will implement that.

The iPhone has the benefit of every phone being the same. But that same benefit is an enormous weakness. In a few years, even the cheap freebie phones could be running Android, and have access to high-quality apps and the like. I firmly believe that the future of computing is not the cloud, it’s the mobile device. In my opinion, Android is best positioned to be that future. Now, if Google would just release the source, as they’ve promised to…