Google Android – Liveblogging at the T-Mobile and Google webcast 23/09/08

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Usually I’d begin my liveblogging with descriptions of the hall I’m in, the anticipation in the room and the annoying fat bloke next to me taking up all the room, but today I’ll be watching Google and T-Mobile’s press conference about the release of the first Google Android HTC Dream handset over the information superhighway via webcast at my desk in Shiny Towers.

We’re being given the hype so far and all the intros to all the speakers.

15:31 Yes, this is indeed the launch of the first Google phone, the T-Mobile G1. The gentleman from Deutsche Telecom is telling us that T-Mobile are the first company to be opening up mobile telecoms throughout the world and that mobile internet is the growing sector.

15:36 Andy Ruben from Google is on stage now. Android is supposed to be as open on the mobile as Google has made the web. They’re using the word “open” one hell of a lot – at least 20 times in the first few minutes alone.

15:37 – An HTC rep is now on his feet. Like the others, he’s spending his time congratulating the other three members of the team. He’s proud of the iconic design of the T-Mobile G1 handset and its ability to bring the open internet to the user. He says it’s quick and nimble and he hopes we enjoy it. Me too.

15:40 – Mobile internet has only got as far as 16% of the US market so far. That actually sounds quite reasonable to me but more than anything else, I’m a little annoyed they’re focusing this on the US.

15:42 – Ok, finally, here it is. We’re being treated to a video of the G1 in action and it basically looks like the iPhone ad. The UI looks more or less identical and it looks just as finger-stroking smooth.

There was also a sneaky slide in the show of what looked like the Amazon Music Store as rumoured this morning.

15:46 – Features vid – framing and cropping of photos, dragging and dropping of files; yes, there is indeed the Amazon Music option! Naturally there’s Google Maps and Street View as well. You can pan around with the touchscreen and use the maps in compass mode with the scene moving as you do so.

The home screen looks very nice indeed, the navigating smooth. The Android Market is another feature, obviously the same as the iPhone app store but of course with the promise of the open development environment.

Ok, the video has stopped and they’re giving us the talk again. They want this phone to be ubiquitous throughout the market with developers from every walk of life.

Now we’re seeing a video of developers talking up the openess of the system. No paid for SDK required to work with the platform.

Some application developers are taking the stage. There’s Shop Savy who allow you to scan any bar code of any product in any store to receive comparative pricing.

22nd October is the date when the US can all get one. In the States it’s going to be $25 per month for unlimited internet and no messaging and for $35 you get messaging and presumably calls as well.

The G1 will be available in the UK from early November and then across the rest of Europe a few weeks after.

Questions

16:00 – The G1 will not be usable as a tethered modem and it won’t be available without a voice plan.

You will be able to read Microsoft and Adobe documents on the handset and, drat, it will be SIM-locked to T-Mobile. They’re being asked about the potential of unlocking in comparison to the iPhone which, incidentally, they will not even mention by name!

The handset will be available to those outside of 3g networks and, of course, works on Wi-Fi as well. It will work with all the usual Google apps as well as a host of others including AOL chat. They’re looking to push IM as a whole.

The G1 uses a tabbed browser called WebKit which, apparently, can be thought of as Chrome-lite.

The phone will work with Bluetooth but does not support A2DP as yet.

It supports all manner of music and video codecs but nothing with locked DRM of course. It’s quad-band and will work on any network in the world.

Wow, the Google founders have taken the stage. That sounds like something out of DS9. They’ve been geeking out, writing their own apps to use on the phone. They’re excited about being able to modify their own phones. They’re excited about having computers in their pockets. How exciting.

16:15 Photos, general hubbub and me running for a glass of water. Oh, it’s over. Link cut. Right, next thing is our Susi will be getting her hands on a G1 and we’ll have some close-up footage for you later. That’s me out.

Daniel Sung