Feeds

Google opens Android kimono

For about 10 minutes

Seven Steps to Software Security

Google I/O The second loudest cheer was for the opening of Google App Engine. The loudest was for a compass built into an unnamed mobile handset running Android.

This morning, during an extended keynote speech at Google's I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Android engineering director Steve Horowitz demonstrated the fledging mobile OS on a mystery handset with a Synaptics touch screen, showing off several applications for the first time. Among these was a version of Street View that moves through Google's virtual world in response to the physical movements of the phone itself.

"With a flick of the finger, you can navigate around," Horowitz said, as he used the device's touch screen to wander through Street View. But then he switched to "compass-mode," tapping into the device's built-in compass and accelerometer. He could spin through those virtual streets simply by spinning his phone. "This is one of my favorite new features on Street View," he said, as applause erupted from several hundred developers. "The device can actually track my movements."

Google Android Demo

What Android might look like

Google bills Android as an "entirely open source world-class mobile stack." But at the moment, it's not open source. Google is privately developing the platform in tandem with more than 30 mobile-industry partners, and it won't open things to outside developers until version 1.0 is released "in the second half of this year." No, Google wouldn't get more specific than that - even when pressed.

So the demo from Horowitz provided a rare glimpse of the Android stack, designed to give you "everything you need to build a mobile phone from the ground up."

Before opening the kimono on his Street View compass mode, Horowitz demoed a "customizable unlock screen." Think the Jesus Phone unlock screen - except you've got more options than a finger swipe. "You can choose what your unlock pattern is," Horowitz explained. "You can use a simple gesture or you can have a more secure pattern" - such as tracing the letter "E" on your touch screen.

Horowitz also showed off Android desktop icons for quick application launch; a "status bar" that centrally displays new emails, missed calls, and calendar appointments; and a mobile version of Pac Man.

All this was demonstrated with touches to a touch screen. But at a press conference following the Horowitz keynote, Android project leader Andy Rubin told reporters that all these applications would also work with a BlackBerry-esque track ball.

Naturally, certain phones will handle certain apps better than others - a device without a compass can't do compass mode - but Rubin pointed out that Android is designed to work with practically any phone. "Even phones without screens," he said. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.