Android phone makes its debut

Open-source HTC smart phone sold by T-mobile has a touch screen similar to the iPhone's, sports 'Chrome-light' browser, (See video below)

The first Android phone looks a lot like the fuzzy pictures that have surfaced online for months, with a touch screen similar to the iPhone's and a full slide-out keyboard.

T-Mobile Inc., Google Inc. and HTC Corp. unveiled the long-awaited G1 Android phone at an event in New York today, revealing pricing, availability and some of the initial applications available for it. They emphasized that the software is open source.

The phone will first become available in the U.S., and a U.K. launch will follow shortly afterward. Starting Oct. 22, U.S. consumers will be able to buy the G1 for $179. Users can subscribe to a limited data plan for $25 a month or $35 for unlimited data access.

The G1 will go on sale in the U.K. in early November and in other T-Mobile European markets in the first quarter of next year.

"We believe open will drive the future of the mobile Internet," said Cole Brodman, chief technology and innovation officer at T-Mobile USA. "From garages to graduate schools, from small towns to big cities, we believe third parties will drive the innovation and future of the mobile Net, along with partnerships with carriers and key manufacturers."

A demonstration of the phone showed a user flicking the screen to scroll through items, in much the same way people can use gestures to navigate the iPhone. The G1, however, also supports the "long press," where a user holds a finger to the screen to open up a menu. For example, holding a finger on a photograph opens a menu offering options such as the ability to send the photo to someone else.

The phone includes a browser built on Webkit, the same technology that drives Apple's Safari browser, said Andy Rubin, senior director of mobile platforms at Google, who is credited with leading the Android development. He called it "Chrome-light," comparing it to the Chrome browser that Google recently introduced.

The T-Mobile G1
The T-Mobile G1, an open-platform Android phone that includes a touch screen and a slide-out Qwerty keyboard.

In a browser window, a user can drag a small box around the Web site and the content behind the box is magnified for easier viewing on the small screen.

The phone, which the executives referred to as "G1 with Google", features many Google applications, including Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Flickr and GTalk. It is also integrated with the Amazon MP3 store, allowing users to easily buy digital music, and it features the Android store where users can browse and buy new applications.

The phone also includes a dedicated search button. When users press it, a Google search bar pops up on the screen.

G1 users will be able to read Word, PDF and Excel documents but, initially at least, they won't be able to sync Microsoft Exchange mail with the phone. "Currently there's no Exchange compatibility, but that's a perfect opportunity for a third-party developer," Rubin said.

T-Mobile, Google and HTC unveiled the long-awaited first Android phone at an event in New York today.

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