Interview with Google Android's Makers


After years of rumors of a Google phone, the search giant a week ago finally unleashed its mobile play: an alliance of handset makers and an open software platform dubbed Android.

On Monday, Google released the software developer kit, or SDK, for Android and announced that it would set aside $10 million to give out as prizes to developers who create programs for the new platform. (Android Developer Challenge)

Android is based on the work of Andy Rubin and several other founders of Danger. Google acquired their newer venture, Android, in 2005.

Q: What does Android look like?

We've been building it as a mobile mashup platform. That is a new concept for cell phones. So the developer can now stand on the system platform and take advantage of other developers' work for the first time. So, that just creates more flexibility for the developers, less work, faster turnaround, rapid prototyping, and all that stuff, and we're really, really excited about that concept.


The platform itself has the ability to be targeted toward all sorts of different screen sizes and input mechanisms--touch devices, trackballs, five-way keypads, portrait displays, landscapes, big displays, small displays, QWERTY keyboards, non-QWERTY keyboards. When the developer writes an app, and that app is on portrait display, the platform also will run that same app on a landscape display.

This platform has been contemplated in different devices, from car navigation systems to set-top boxes to laptop computers and, of course, cell phones.


Q: Which is more important to you: the richness of the platform or the affordability of phones the platform runs on?

Rubin: I would say both are equally important, and that is the reason we made this an open-source project. By having a free and open platform, we're reducing the cost of software, which, in turn, reduces the cost of the cell phone. When we built the platform, we didn't go for the really expensive $600 smartphones. We went for the mid-market.


Related: Wired’s Interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.


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