An Initial Overview of the Android User Interface

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Although there has been a great deal of talk about the Android smartphone platform that was announced last week, initially little was known about what it would actually look like. Fortunately, Google and the Open Handset Alliance have released a video showing prototype Android devices in action.

The first demonstration is of this upcoming operating system and applications on a mid-range model without a touchscreen. The video shows how the smartphone’s address book and Google Maps can work together to display a contact’s location on a map.

It also includes a demonstration of SMS messaging, including the way incoming and outgoing messages are grouped together as conversations.

The video later moves on to a more advanced device with a touchscreen and support for 3G wireless networking. The star of this portion of the demonstration is Android’s web browser. Steve Horowitz, the Engineering Director, shows how he can zoom in and out on a web page, and scroll around by touching the screen. He also demonstrates a visual history feature.

Next the video highlights some of this operating system’s 3D graphics capabilities, most notably by playing Quake.

$10 Million for Developers

To give people more incentive to create software for the Android platform, Google has launched the Android Developer Challenge, which will provide $10 million in awards for great outstanding applications. The award money will be distributed equally between two phases.

Android Developer Challenge I will run from January 2 through March 3, 2008. The 50 most promising entries received will each receive a $25,000 award to fund further development. Those selected will then be eligible for even greater recognition via ten $275,000 awards and ten $100,000 awards.

Details of the Android Developer Challenge II will be announced after the first handsets built on the platform become available in the second half of 2008.

More About Android


Android is being created by the Open Handset Alliance, a collection of 30+ companies led by Google but also including Intel, TI, Sprint, T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and Wind River.

This group is putting the finishing touches on this platform, which will consist of a Linux-based operating system, middleware, and key mobile applications. Many of these are likely to tie into Google’s services, like Gmail and Google Maps.

Because this platform will be open source, the Alliance hopes it will be quickly extended to incorporate new technologies as they emerge.

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