Google on Android

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 8:16 AM

At Google, we develop products that we love to use ourselves. For example, we're avid users of Search, Gmail, Maps, and many others. But for those of us in mobile, it's tough. Not all products work the same on all devices, and although we try and optimize for each device, we often run into challenges specific to certain mobile phone platforms. I, for one, used to carry three devices with me all day. I love my iPhone for its powerful browser and music player. I use my BlackBerry for Gmail and Calendar (and occasionally Brick Breaker), and I carry a Nokia N-series phone because of its camera and YouTube application.

The first Android-powered phone, announced today by T-Mobile, comes 'with Google'. The following Google applications are preloaded on the device: Search, Maps, Gmail with Contacts, Calendar, Google Talk, and YouTube. There are a few things I'm particularly excited about:

  • Easy to use. It's never been easier to use Google on your phone. With single sign-in, you can log in to your Google account and have instant access to all your favorite Google products. No messing around with settings, your login never expires, and everything just works. If you don't have a Google account yet, you can set one up on your phone and be up and running in seconds.
  • Fully synchronized. Your emails, contacts, calendar entries, Google Talk chats are fully synchronized with Gmail and Calendar on the web. New events are pushed in real-time to your phone and any changes you make on-the-go are immediately available on the web. If you ever lose or break your phone, all your data is safe and secure in the cloud.
  • Designed to work together. Search is now available as a feature in many applications, including non-Google ones, such as the music player. While you're listening to a song -- like something from Depeche Mode -- just 'long-press' the artist's name. You'll see a menu pop up that let's you search Google for the Depeche Mode Wikipedia entry, or search YouTube for the music video. The contact application lets you see your friend's IM status, view his address on a map, and communicate with him using Gmail or Google Talk. And, of course, you can call or text him as well.
Check out the video below to see these features in action:



The Google applications on Android take full advantage of the features of the Android platform. Gmail is built on 'embedded WebViews', the real-time push features and synchronization use the multi-tasking capabilities of the platform, and the integration between applications relies on the 'Android Application Framework'.

We're kicking off a new blog series, called 'Google on Android'. Over the next couple of weeks, we will dig deeper into each one of the Google applications available for Android, and at the end of the series, I'll let you know whether I've decided to switch phones or switch to pants that let me carry four phones instead of three.

40 comments:

Darnell Clayton said...

Wow. And I expected the T-Mobile to be "okay," but I did not expect it to be this good.

While it still has a ways to go before I dump my iPhone (sorry Google, double tap beats the "rectangle square zoom" I've been seeing all over YouTube), I am quite impressed with the street view mapping app as well as the Amazon music store (which is a lot better than iTunes).

Either way, this makes a great gift for my T-Mobile friends, who have been drooling over my iPhone for quite some time now.

Darnell Clayton said...

Oh I forgot to mention: the screen lock pattern is ingenius! I wish I had that feature for my iPhone. :-(

Robert D said...

3 Questions:
1 - Does the web browser support flash?
2 - Do my Google bookmarks sync with the phone's browser bookmarks?
3 - We've heard of European announcements. Any word on it coming to Canada?

Simon Liss - We Love Mobile said...

Congratulations google! Integrated apps that all sync with your PC, updates that are pushed to the phone (no logging on, no constant connecting to the web), and the seamless and intuitive way that information is shared across apps and platforms is truly outstanding.

Sorry to the doubters, but this is surely the future of mobile and I’m sold.

nitesh said...

Cool to see Google employees like good music. Next post should be about New Order, then I would think you guys are coolest company evar!

Simon said...

Nice! But that URL at the end isn't working yet.

Todd said...

T-Mobile? T-Mobile??? The worst coverage areas of the major carriers. I guess I won't be getting an Android phone for a while...

Emi said...

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! More carriers!! T-Mobile is not available here! Sprint is one of your partners in the Android project - any idea when they'll get an Android based phone? I've got another yr with them, but can get a new phone in Nov......

Lozbo said...

I think there's still one not so irrelevant application missing here: an official to do list, so we could completely switch from Ms Office to Google Apps.

The other (most common) personal data organization applications are already there (g)Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Notes...

Maybe unofficial versions will come out in the app store, but I've always liked better the official stuff.

I know there are other third parties like remember the milk and tada lists and others, but I heard Google had something on its own on the works? Or perhaps it will acquire one of these other independent startups?

r said...

I really hope it'll be available with other carriers - I absolutly do not want to use T-Mobile.

I like the idea of a never expiering login to gmail, but what to do if I have two acounts and want to check them both? Did you think about this?

olternaut said...

At first I must say I really like your product. Well, actually its a first gen handset from one manufacturer running on one carrier.
So the potential is there for many great products on different carriers to come from this.
But unfortunately I'm also extremely annoyed about the fact that HTC (who was given the responsibility of debuting the very first commercially available android handset) chose to NOTTTTTT include a 3.5 inch jack on the device but a proprietary one?
Its going to be a deal breaker for many people despite the handset being liked.
I'm sure Apple is laughing over this.

WHAT THE LIVING HELL IS THAT ALL ABOUT GOOGLE? Google should be angry about this and screaming at HTC over it. I hope you guys are.

Stefan said...

Lovely piece, really.

And I'm all for android, even if I am going to skip the 1st gen hardware. Oh, and please get someone else than HTC to manufacture the hardware.

Anyway, the thing that bothers me is that it seems with android, the iphone is off your radar. no streetview, no international version of the google app. that is really annoying..

still, congrats for the launch.

Jigar said...

How do you guys test the performance of the applications in a mobile environment, especially delay-sensitive apps like VoIP, streaming video and games?

studyaid said...

How am I going to get my contacts and calendar from Outlook into the phone? I mean I know it can sync up with gMail, but how can I sync with Outlook?

Ed said...

I'd like to know about the outlook contacts too. I am not a big fan of outlook, but have to use it at work. Also what about Excel Mobile and other Windoze mobile apps?

Stephen Hind said...

Well Marc Vanlerberghe I guess you will still "carry a Nokia N-series phone because of its camera" so you can record videos? Also can you record audio?

chetson.com said...

What would make this an amazing would be the ability to set it down in front of a monitor and have the monitor have the display, and a bluetooth keyboard interface as well.

That would spell the end of the desktop, laptop, and put computing in the palm of the hand.

Julie said...

I'm a great Google fan, and will be looking very seriously at an Android phone when my current contract expires. I'm certainly looking for a device with qwerty KEYS (not a touchscreen interface - drove me mad on Windows mobile devices, and I'm much happier with my Nokia E90). Despite all the hype over touchscreen interfaces (and they do have their advantages in some areas), I MUCH prefer tactile buttons that don't require me to look at the screen for everything I do. So the G1 looks (from what I've seen so far) to be my ideal form factor. Yes, slim would be nice, but on the plus side, a big screen is great for web browsing, email and eBooks, and the only way to combine large screen and small size is to get most of the keyboard out of sight except when needed.

I'd like to know how it works in Offline mode (or if it even HAS an offline mode), though. There's lots of talk about syncing and connectivity, which is great when you need it. But most of my day I'm not near WiFi, and I choose not to incur data costs for synchronisation that really just isn't that time-critical. I'll save that for when I'm back home with (flat rate = "free") WiFi coverage. Who cares if my phone and online contacts are out of sync for half a day or more? And I can certainly live without email being pushed to my phone when I'm not interested in reading it. Again, most of my email isn't time-critical enough for me to want to rack up data charges "just in case".

Do Calendar, Contacts etc. work WITHOUT a data connection, and can we decide how and when to connect for syncing? What I'd want as my default setting is automatically connect/sync whenever I have WiFi access, and don't use a 3G connection without asking me first.

This issue becomes even more important for anyone travelling abroad with ridiculously high roaming data charges - not that I do, but it's another argument for the same level of control / offline use.

Other than that, I'll be waiting for Mobipocket to bring out an Android version before I'm ready to switch ;-) Can't do without my eBooks any more. Oh, and availability on a different carrier.

Whoever said...

Okay, this is scary! Two days ago I was thinking: "hmm, the example app for my thesis would be so much cooler if I had a phone with a digital compas"...
And now..I can (SHIP IT TO DENMARK ASAP BTW!)!
Mind reading Google?? :)

Anyway, I look forward to developing for Android.

Kevin (Google-sceptic, iPhone-mocker, founder of the non-existing "N95 is THE powermobile"-association)

P.S. The camera doesnt appear to be able to do proper scanning of tags.

Calidreaming said...

Great job, I'm Italian and I gonna wait a lot, but this is the smartphone i waiting for I suppose ;)
byez

Thomas Gruber said...

Please delete the Spam entry above. Can't wait to see the Google Cell in Austria. Now i'm using a Nokia N95 but since it will take some time till the launch in Europe it will be ready for a replacement.

My vision is a cellphone with a mini beamer included and on the other side one of this virtual laser keyboards.

DK said...

wowgold is going be really sad when he realizes that comments links are no followed.

Ionut Alex Chitu said...

I didn't understand something: do you need to have a Gmail account to use the phone or just to launch some of the applications? T-Mobile's press release mentioned the Gmail account in the list of requirements, but I hope you can still use the phone without logging in to Gmail.

Alberto said...

Supports Microsoft Exchange like Blaclberry?

bgmt said...

when will it come to india . i am dying for this one

Paul said...

First impressions of the G1 and i feel its a genuine competitor to the iPhone!

A great site to see all the G1 Video reviews & features is http://www.g1tube.com

Shashank Tiwari said...

Wrote about this blog post at RIA Revolution, in a news article titled : Google G1 Launched -- http://riarevolution.com/2008/09/24/google-g1-launched/.

I have one question though -- when will non T-mobile users see Android in action?

chaz said...

Does anyone know if my personal domain, hooked up with the Google Apps service, will work as my Gmail login for the T-Mobile G1?

Vladimir said...

Is G-phone compatible with 64 bit PC ?

Radical said...

I'm just wondering... when will the iPhone get push Gmail support? Or is that going to remain Android exclusive?

Joey said...

so is it true there is 'no' headphone jack? What about Stereo Bluetooth?

Jason said...

This just might be the phone to put the iPhone to shame. Hopefully it will be able to be span across multiple carriers without much involvement from them. Hackers Unite!!

pilotgreg said...

@chaz, I have the same concern. After doing some googling, I found a discussion where it looks like your Google apps for your domain account CAN be your account for the G1.

http://www.talkandroid.com/android-forums/android-applications/202-will-android-support-google-apps-your-domain.html

Syed said...

That cycling jersey looks really cool. Is there any way I could get one??

Carla said...

I have a question. Once I receive my G1 and install my sim card with contacts, will it automatically sync to my g1? What if my contacts are not stored on my sim card but are stored in my Tmobile Address Book which is synced phone to pc, will my contacts automaticaly go to my G1? or do I have to enter all of my contact information onto my Gmail account? Can someone answer these questions, please.

TeleSynergy said...

Google revolutionized and democratized information by becoming THE portal that allows users to find and connect to the websites that they need. Google would not be Google if it restricted our access to only certain websites with specific products and services. Yet, in today’s mobile landscape of fragmented and incomplete cell phone products, application services, and communication servers, this is exactly what is happening.

We at TeleSynergy believes that Google, with its GrandCentral and Android play, is uniquely positioned to revolutionize the mobile communication industry with built-in VoIP infrastructure and servers (at home, in the office, and in the cloud) that make Android as the end device and GrandCentral as the portal that allow consumers to freely choose which services and servers they want in their life. When the end users can access a wide range of open source products (mobile phones offered by chip set vendors which leverages the great R&D effort Android has already invested,) open source services (applications built onto Android’s platform, fully integrated and working flawlessly with the services from mobile phone operators in the cloud or service rendering servers at home and in the office,) and open source service rendering severs (small home server, the modern-day answering machine, and office phone system that take the place of the expensive “Class 5” switch of the Phone Companies,) then Android’s smart phone will truly be THE phone that we all must have.

For a simple analogy, let’s say that the mobile phone is the iPOD, the services are like the iTunes’, and the servers are like the PCs.

In real life, we choose our iPOD (our cell phone) because it allows us to easily access the iTunes (the service that connects iPOD to a wide variety of content) that we enjoy. The iPOD would be useless without music, movies, pictures, and other applications to use it with! We also love iTunes because it sits easily on our own PC (server) so we have a full control of when and how we connect with the iTunes (services).

However, in the current mobile landscape, the iTunes (services) sits on old traditional mainframes (servers) that only the big companies can build and own. There is only one supplier of the service, and there is no server (PC) that you can easily work with. Can you imagine how annoying it would be if you had to take your iPOD to the mall and wait in line with thousands of other people while they downloaded a limited music selection from a restricted iTunes? (Of course, today’s iTune is not open enough, but that is another story…)

Yet, that is exactly what our mobile phone system is like. We are under the control of the big servers that control the end-services we access. Thus, the innovations in the services are also slowed down because it is difficult for the server to create different services to serve all the unique customer demands. So we are still forced to choose from pre-made packages that never quite meet our needs.

But, just like personal computer became smaller, cheaper, and even better than the best of the old, large, and expensive main-frames, so too have home and office phone servers become more affordable, scalable, and customizable than traditional large servers that sits in telecommunications’ companies’ infrastructure. The time has come for all people to have a home and office server that they can control with rich features such as one number follow me, advance voicemail, and other applications that are still not available on services from the dominant player of the mobile services.

When people have this home and office server, they need a phone with built-in VoIP SIP standards and well architect application program interface that can connect with their service rendering servers. People make the majority of their mobile phone calls at home and at office, so it only makes sense to use the VoIP phone to replace our current, outdated analog phone systems and cordless phones that sits our own home or office. What this means is that people can have only one phone that they can use for any situation, anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. They will save thousands in their phone bills by using VoIP for phone communications at home and at office. With functionalities like One Phone, Many Numbers and ReachMe Control, they can easily control which calls reach them while in the office, out of town, in the car or at home. They can even block numbers. They can also route incoming calls to a series of phone numbers and devices, ensuring they get the message no matter where they are.

We wrote a little article called The Missing Pieces in Android’s Mobile Revolution Play: Service Rendering Servers, VoIP, and Chip Set Vendors.

We would love to hear your thoughts on our suggestions.

http://androidmobilerevolution.blogspot.com/

jim said...

Nothing here for a month? Where on the web can I go to be in touch with the google phone developers?

For example, I want to know if a "to do" list is in the phone, will be available, or if I can write one.

Where can I talk to the guys behind the google phone / android ??

Thanks....

jkk251@gmail.com

timb said...

OK OK OK - MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHERE CAN I GET MY GOOGLE CYCLING JERSEY FROM!!!

Phone looks awesome btw.

Shawn Mullen said...

If you want a pretty good calculator try this:

http://www.handango.com/catalog/ProductDetails.jsp?storeId=2218&deviceId=2073&platformId=80&productId=247245&merch=recently_viewed_titles

Ian MacGregor said...

The T-Mobile g1 handset is a very nice phone, but I am seeing a problem with the way the market is set up. Currently the g1 market allows rating an app with a star (from 1 to 5 stars) depending on how useful the user sees the app. The g1 market also allows text comments to be posted for each app and this is where the trouble begins.

First I would like to mention that when you browse the apps market, cache is created on the g1 and this cache grows with further market browsing with no way to clear it. This market cache subtracts from the amount of memory available to the user for other tasks such as messages and browsing the internet.

There was an app in the market called MemoryUp and dozens of people left comments that suggested this app was a virus/malware or that it deleted all of their information. Google removed the MemoryUp app from the market, researched it and found no evidence of malicious code or that it was even able to delete user information. I installed and used MemoryUp and didn't have any problems with it. It now appears that all of those negative comments were false, but the market cache on the g1 handsets is larger due to the false comments. You can browse almost any app in the g1 market and find comments like "First!" or comments that contain nothing more than dozens of blank lines, and still other comments which contain cursing and/or attacks on the sexual preferences or the race/nationality of others.

The g1 apps market will soon open to paid apps where developers can post their apps and users can pay to install and use them. The problem is that some users (myself included) are fed up with the comments feature of the market (and the ever-growing cache) and won't be browsing the market anymore because we don't feel like having to wade thru a lot of unnecessary junk just to decide if an app is worth paying for. This translates to a potential loss of income for the developers. I have a friend who was interested in buying a g1 but declined when he saw the comments section of the market. He said he couldn't take the device seriously if the carrier allowed "childish antics" to fill up the market and the memory on his phone. This means T-Mobile lost a customer because of the market comments feature.

There was a recent OTA (Over The Air) update to the g1 software which includes a new feature that allows users to flag market comments as spam. However, given the large user base of the g1 and the high number of apps in the market, it will likely require more than 25 flags to remove a single spam comment from the market. Given that the market cache on the g1 increases each time a user browses the market, I don't feel this flagging feature will be of much help.

I feel that the g1 is a nice phone and has potential for improvement, but the market setup needs to change or T-Mobile and app developers face losing customers.