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Google Announces "Open Phone" Coalition, No gPhone [Updated]

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the well-isn't-that-special dept.

Communications 225

Ponca City, We Love You writes "USA Today has an advance story on Google's plans to announce a new operating system, geared specifically for cellphones with partners that include Sprint, Motorola, Samsung and Japanese wireless giant NTT DoCoMo. Although details won't be released until later today the new G-system will be based on Linux overlaid with Java and Google hopes to have a branded device ready for worldwide shipment by spring. Mobile Web browsing is notoriously slow and Google plans to change that by providing easy access to the Internet at PC-type speeds. Google plans to basically give away the software developer tools, used by programmers to write new applications. "If you're a developer, you'll be able to develop (applications) for the new Google Phone very quickly," said Morgan Gillis of the LiMo Foundation. AT&T and Verizon Wireless are noticeably absent from the coalition not wanting to support a device that favors Google over other providers. Sprint, the No. 3 carrier, supports the coalition, but it hasn't formally agreed to make the Google Phone available to its 54 million subscribers." Update 1727 GMT by SM: It's official, Google is releasing the mobile "Android" OS in place of the Google branded mobile phone that many expected.

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AT&T? (1, Interesting)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240331)

AT&T... [is] noticeably absent from the coalition not wanting to support a device that favors Google over other providers.
WHAT?! They support devices that favor Apple over other providers. Does anyone else see this hypocracy?

Re:AT&T? (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240437)

But that's different. Apple isn't Evil(tm) and Steve Jobs is a Demigod(tm). The iPhone is an innovative product that will revolutionize the world! Thanks to Jobs' powerful vision, we will all live in one happy Apple Utopia(tm)!

Am I getting the MacFanboySlashdotGroupThink(tm) thing right, guys?

Re:AT&T? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240515)

What was I thinking saying such blasphemy! *Bites tongue and bows head* Will the Steve ever forgive me?

Re:AT&T? (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240659)

Why is it that, every time I see a true Apple fanboy post here, I always get an image of James Earl Jones in "Conan the Barbarian," beckoning one of his followers to come to him by walking off a cliff?

Window Mobilers all just SHIT their pants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242463)

Window Mobilers all just SHIT their pants ..... AGAIN !!

it's funny because it's true

Re:AT&T? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241081)

It's called Apple iUtopia.

Get it right, you fucking peasant.

-- Steve Jobs

Re:AT&T? (4, Insightful)

KSobby (833882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240511)

All AT&T said was that they didn't want to favor Google over other providers. We have to assume that they meant Apple. And why would they? They have a sweet deal with Apple. How is this in anyway hypocritical or evil? AT&T favors Apple, so they don't join.

People just look for any reason to be mad at someone.

Re:AT&T? (2, Interesting)

wolff000 (447340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240641)

The only deal they have with Apple is for a single device. I don't see any good reason for AT&T not to join in. This is disappointing since they are my provider. If this platform turns out well I may be changing providers when it comes time to renew my contract. AT&T by the way has snubbed Google on most if not all of their devices. The phones they have come with pre-installed messenger apps and email notification and Google apps are not supported. The best you get is a download for gtalk but it is not integrated so you have to be "online" to use it. The others simple work without having to have the app open. AT&T has gone down hill since they started advertising fewest drop calls. That is when mine started dropping like mad and most of the people I know with service from them have had the same.

Re:AT&T? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240599)

>hypocracy?

Um, that's, like, a government made up of hypochondriacs?

Re:AT&T? (5, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240647)

AT&T... [is] noticeably absent from the coalition not wanting to support a device that favors Google over other providers.
WHAT?! They support devices that favor Apple over other providers. Does anyone else see this hypocracy?
Not as hypocrisy, no. If they said that all coalitions should be provider-neutral it would be hypocrisy. If they just say that this coalition conflicts with their existing deals then it's not hypocrisy at all.

Google phone, long awaited (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240363)

The new operating system will be called GNU/Goo/Do/Mo/SpriSamSun/Linux.

I, for one, welcome our new alliterative overlords.

Java on the G-phone. (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240581)

so what, now i have to code in java to contribute anything to the "G-phone"?

Re:Java on the G-phone. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241195)

so what, now i have to code in java to contribute anything

Jeez you people are spoiled. There's not a single thing that can be announced without some whiney brat crying about how he's been slighted.

Re:Google phone, long awaited (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240919)

Well, that sounds better than Windows Vista/CE/ME/NT/XP

The Advert here [snipurl.com]

Re:Google phone, long awaited (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240983)

The new operating system will be called GNU/Goo/Do/Mo/SpriSamSun/Linux.


Of course. Don't you realise how many extra minutes that'll rack up?

What version of Java? (2, Interesting)

$1uck (710826) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240393)

So what version of Java? Micro Edition? or full blown Java?

Re:What version of Java? (1, Flamebait)

musikit (716987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240471)

IMHO JavaME is a joke. it doesnt have anything useful that anyone would want. the spec most likely has changed since i last looked at it but when i was heavily into small device platforms i found a couple things wrong with it

1. it didnt use AWT. instead they create yet another windowing toolkit specifically for micro devices. i dont understand why it was essentially a copy of awt.
2. it didnt allow use of floats/doubles.

Re:What version of Java? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240929)

Mobile phone processor probably don't have native floating-point support.
Rewrite your app.

Re:What version of Java? (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241005)

1. it didnt use AWT. instead they create yet another windowing toolkit specifically for micro devices. i dont understand why it was essentially a copy of awt.
AWT was intended to wrap existing widgets. This doesn't make sense in a mobile device where there is likely to be little or no existing widget set. Swing would work, but it has higher overheads. The needs of a mobile UI are quite different to those of a desktop one, so a direct port would not make sense.

2. it didnt allow use of floats/doubles.
Most mobile CPUs don't support floating point arithmetic. Removing floats from the language makes it obvious to developers that, if they want floating point functionality they are going to need to emulate it. When I learned to program, most desktop CPUs didn't have an FPU. Languages supported floating point ops, but except in rare cases (i.e. someone had bought an external coprocessor) they were all emulated. A single floating point operation can need a hundred or so integer operations to emulate, but came from the same amount of source code as an integer op that took one instruction. This lead to people writing some quite inefficient code because they didn't understand that the cost of a + b varied by an order of magnitude or two depending on whether a, b, both or neither were floating point quantities.

Re:What version of Java? (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241487)

I don't know about AWT, but i can justify their disallowing of floats or doubles. Most microcontrollers on mobile phones don't have floating point units. They can be simulated in software, but this is very slow. This is why doing floating point math on a mobile is very discouraged.

Re:What version of Java? (2, Informative)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241569)

1. it didnt use AWT. instead they create yet another windowing toolkit specifically for micro devices. i dont understand why it was essentially a copy of awt.
Why would you want the horrible, horrible AWT on a mobile ?

2. it didnt allow use of floats/doubles.
It does now, and has for ages. CLDC 1.0 doesn't support floats, CLDC 1.1 does.

Re:What version of Java? (4, Interesting)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240501)

AFAIK, Sun is working on deprecating JavaME, and since Java's OSS now, it opens up the possibility of Google porting Java to the platform.

It's offical (5, Insightful)

neokushan (932374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240395)

Open Platform? Available to all? No hidden charges? It's official, Google is the polar opposite to Apple.

Re:It's offical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240503)

Open Platform? Available to all? No hidden charges? It's official, Google is the polar opposite to Apple.

And with no major carriers firmly supporting it it's also going to have zero adopters. Definitely the polar opposite of Apple's 1 million plus iPhone users.

Re:It's offical (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240571)

Okay I'm not an iPhone fanboi, but what hidden charges are you talking about? And how is the iPhone not 'available to all' (in the same way that a Porsche is available to all if you want to actually spend your money on one)?

Re:It's offical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240749)

It's not available to those who don't want AT&T as a provider.

Re:It's offical (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241075)

It is available to them, they just choose not to buy it. Very different.. that's like saying a tractor isn't available to those who would prefer to use gasoline rather than diesel (got to love the car analogies :) and dont bother pointing out a tractor that can run on normal petrol/gasoline, though hopefully there isn't one because it's preferable to have decent torque in a tractor..)

Re:It's offical (4, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240885)

Well, I am an Apple Fanboi (according to those with the time to track such things) so I'm obviously biased, but I'll answer your questions anyway.

Hidden charges: the iPhone is sold at retail for $400, giving the impression that you pay $400 and own one, but that isn't exactly the case. The device will not function (even as an iPod or whatever) until activated with AT&T. The AT&T plans available aren't exactly out of line for unlimited data plans but they aren't discount plans either. All these limitations are because Apple also receives a subsidy from AT&T, which is a sort of hidden charge.

As for "available to all", there are a few possible answers. As of now the phone isn't available outside the US and (without hacking) won't work with, say, Canadian carriers. Or if you speak in terms of development, right now nobody outside Apple can develop applications (without hacking).

The iPhone is still rather great, at least for those of us who happen to live in a place where AT&T coverage is really far better than any of the competing coverage. But I think everyone is glad to see Google put on some pressure in this space. Apple makes some good software but can get stuck in a bit of a cathedral mindset that can make their platforms a bit stale.

Re:It's offical (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241051)

That charge isn't hidden - I don't have one but even I know that you can only get it on a contract, it's quite normal to do that here in the UK at least..

I also would have marked myself as an Apple fanboy until they got better known for their iPods than their computers! I'm still an Apple computer fanboy, but the iPod and the iPhone so far still seem like overpriced underspecced gadgets to me. The iPod is getting there though, have been slightly tempted by the Touch - a solid state player capable of holding almost all my music and with a funky gimmicky interface \o/ Having said gimmicky, I have a MacBook pro and must say I love the multitouch capabilities of the touchpad, for scrolling and right clicking - it's really annoying using a non Mac touchpad now!

Re:It's offical (1)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242509)

And how is the iPhone not 'available to all' (in the same way that a Porsche is available to all if you want to actually spend your money on one)?

Among other things, if Apple lets you program the thing at all, it requires Apple approval to distribute the software, and you have to use iTunes to talk to the phone.

I'm not sure whether "not available to all" is the right way of putting it, but the iPhone is one of the most restrictive phones in existence.

gOS? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240399)

Ha - They must be pissed that gOS just got released... ;P

They'd better bring out chairs... Ballmer style...

Re:gOS? (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240481)

Ha - They must be pissed that gOS just got released... ;P

They'd better bring out chairs... Ballmer style...
Gosh, I just wet my chair. You are sooooo funny!

Need Women's Opinions (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240419)

We need the opinions of women on this thread. Women use phones too. Women please leave comments in reply to this one. Kthx.

Re:Need Women's Opinions (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240607)

I'm a man, you insensitive clod!

Re:Need Women's Opinions (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240857)

Whoever modded the parent down is b basement dwelling, sexist, male nerd. Women deserve to be able to comment in Slashdot.

Re:Need Women's Opinions (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21242093)

Also, please leave age/sex/location? Kthx.

Really.... how? (4, Interesting)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240423)

Mobile Web browsing is notoriously slow and Google plans to change that by providing easy access to the Internet at PC-type speeds.
There is so much wrong with this sentence that it makes me want to gouge my eyes out. I wasn't aware that PC-type is suddenly a benchmark for speed... and how exactly is changing the OS going to make cellphone browsing that noticeably faster?
Also...

One caveat: You'll have to use Google for navigation
Do no Evil, eh?

Re:Really.... how? (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240487)

I wasn't aware that PC-type is suddenly a benchmark for speed...


Well, in my experience with Rogers Cable in Canada, which is a major ISP and telecommunications company, surfing at the same advertised speed using a cell phone and computer was never the same. The PC was significantly faster. Donno why though.

I'd speculate that there is a "technical problem" [or trade off] with the way cell phones get their Internet access. But that's speculation so I could be way wrong here.

Re:Really.... how? (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241237)

I think a lot of the slowness in the cell phone is due to the limited resources of the phone. When I browse the internet on my EVDO phone it still seems like it takes about 10 seconds to display most basic websites. When I tether my laptop to it, the speed is nearly indistinguishable from a home broadband connection.

Re:Really.... how? (2, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241455)

Try putting Opera Mini on it.

Much faster.

Re:Really.... how? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240509)

Betcha that there will be a browser out within a day of release that will nullify that requirement.

Re:Really.... how? (2, Insightful)

DarkTempes (822722) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241097)

And I wouldn't be surprised if google was fine with that.

Most people would still use google in a new unlocked-browser, and google probably isn't too worried about a small niche of tech savvy people using an application (unless they screw up the initial browser the majority of users are going to use the original one aka MSIE vs netscape and friends)

Re:Really.... how? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240771)

nd how exactly is changing the OS going to make cellphone browsing that noticeably faster?
Leaner/cleaner OS, leads to more processing cycles and memory available. This would speed page rendering, which can be ungodly slow on some smartphones. I am unsure if there is something they can do to solve latency, but this is a big problem with browsing. I also believe changing the way a page is rendered will help. IE on Windows Mobile is bad at times and refuses to render anything until it has everything (or so it seems). You could improve this as well, not so much with the OS, but if you are going to put in the effort, might as well go all out.

Re:Really.... how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240851)

I wasn't aware that PC-type is suddenly a benchmark for speed
Yes, PC-type computers can download several libraries of congress in less time than it takes you to read this sentence. You can't do that with a cellphone!

Re:Really.... how? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241095)

I welcome an open phone platform, because the proprietary platforms give too much control over the feature set to the network operators who sponsor the phones. On the other hand, I really wish the effort wouldn't be spearheaded by Google, because we're being offered a Hobson's choice here: Full featured and extensible phones in return for giving Google even more of our privacy. Quite frankly, Google is the last company I would want to know where I am at all times.

Re:Really.... how? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241429)

It was put that way to frustrate pedantic asshats like you.

Everyone else in the world knows what the fuck "PC-types speeds" means.

Re:Really.... how? (0)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241851)

Troll much? Given the wide spectrum of speeds that one can get from their PC, the point is that specifying "PC-type speeds" is too vague. Would it be dialup speeds? DSL speeds? Cable speeds? DS-3? Exactly. Next time, think before you flame, douchebag.

Re:Really.... how? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242277)

I wasn't aware that PC-type is suddenly a benchmark for speed
At a certain point, the benefits of increased bandwidth are lost due to the computer (phone, PC, game console, etc) being unable to keep up. I imagine this is what they are referring to.

One caveat: You'll have to use Google for navigation
Do no Evil, eh?
It's Open Source, so this 'caveat' may not be so accurate. I'm guessing it's more like the iPhone where Google is the default and the nicest way to map, but it does nothing to stop you from using other services. They'd have to cripple the web browser to do that. The reporter is probably either playing loose with "have to use" (implying "without additional effort") or read/heard that it will have Google Maps built in, and (inaccurately) extrapolated from there.

Linux overlaid with Google? (2, Insightful)

nahgoe (901302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240435)

I'm really interested to see how Linux can be overlaid with Java and Google.

Or maybe someone needs to brush up on their punctuation.

Privacy (4, Insightful)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240459)

Let me guess... they're going to offer it for free/at a reduced price in exchange for giving up all your privacy.

Y

Re:Privacy (2, Interesting)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240569)

Wonder if they plan to (with the assistance of the carrier) to serve up local ads based on where you are positioned when you make a search or accessing any other Google service.

In metro areas where the phone network is fine grained, the positioning is quite accurate.

Re:Privacy (1)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240995)

Yeah, like:

Ej, CaptainZapp; in 20 meters to the right there is a sporting goods shop specialized on baseball bats. We have a FREE baseball bat for you. Come inside

That would probably teach them about spamming my cell phone.

Re:Privacy (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241107)

Let me guess... they're going to offer it for free/at a reduced price in exchange for giving up all your privacy.

Privacy is just another asset I can use to barter. Why is it intrinsically "evil" for someone to choose to sell it? And yes, I understand that not everyone understands exactly what they're selling, but that's a consumer problem.

Re:Privacy (2, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241573)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Google's privacy policy is probably a hell of a lot better than anything AT&T or Verizon have.

(AT&T taps your line for the NSA without a warrant, and Verizon will sell your personal information to marketers)

Google makes it plainly obvious that they're recording and storing what you do (and actually presents that data to you in a useful manner). A traditional ISP definitely has the capability to do the same exact thing behind your back. If the bits are passing through their tubes, they have access to it.

Oh If Only... (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241839)

1. It were so simple a transaction of exchanging my activities on the device for some access provided by Google. You don't know how/what your data is being used for until it is waaay too late. If it were such a simple black-or-white transaction, I'd go along with you as the moderators have. But it isn't. Not even close.

2. There's a **huge** personal data industry in the U.S. despite a maze of privacy standards. That suggests your personal data is worth way more than a little data access. If you don't realize the astronomical value of your personal data, then Google and others will take continue to take full advantage of you.

Re:Privacy (1)

mpcooke3 (306161) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242001)

Most consumer don't read 30 pages of legalease in software clickwrap agreements either, how far do we go when saying it's a "consumer problem".

When people click "OK" to giving away their first born child?

Re:Privacy (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242105)

Privacy is just another asset I can use to barter. Why is it intrinsically "evil" for someone to choose to sell it? And yes, I understand that not everyone understands exactly what they're selling, but that's a consumer problem.
Because when you "barter away" your privacy, it makes it harder for me to maintain mine. *Anything* that makes it harder for me to maintain my privacy gets tagged "evil" by default, unless and until it becomes sufficiently justified.

Re:Privacy (1)

Isaac-Lew (623) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241597)

What privacy do you currently have with your current cell phone?
  • They know who you've called.
  • They know where you were located when you called.
  • They know how long you talked to that person.
  • They have a history of sites you've visited from your phone.
  • They already do targeted ads (at least, Sprint does - how else would I get a DC-specific ad when I'm in DC, but a Baltimore-specific ad when I'm in Baltimore?)
So what would be different about Google?

Re:Privacy (1)

div_2n (525075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242409)

If Google tracking every text message I send in order to text me occasional ads or whatever leads to a cheaper monthly plan, I'm all for it. Next to the big ticket items such as our mortgage, the monthly cell bill is the single biggest expenditure in our budget for two people.

How open is open? (3, Interesting)

KenRH (265139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240485)

The article states it will be linux-kernel + java, and of course it will be google servises as default for everyting. That is all fine.
But my question is; what if I want to use other services, will that be possible/difficult?

We already have fifty! Finish one! (2, Interesting)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240489)

Isn't openMoko and others (something QT) developing an open platform mobile OS already? Why not just take what they've done and fork it or help out. What's the point in yet another open mobile platform when there are already people that have half finished implementations.

Oh I get it. This open platform would be closed from the public to tinker with and actually only be available to the mobile phone providers? Is that the idea?

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (4, Insightful)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240565)

Wait I read this wrong. It's not an "Open Phone" at all.

This phone is going to be like the Motorola A1200 Linux phone I already have.

The new G-system will be based on Linux, a 15-year-old computer operating system that is available free over the Internet. Google's version will be overlaid with Java, a popular computer language.
It's just a DRM'd Linux Kernel with their proprietary java OS running on top. This phone is no different apart from now they'll give you more information on how to write programs for it. Big wow...

Gillis says Google plans to basically give away the software developer "tools," used by programmers to write new applications. "If you're a developer, you'll be able to develop (applications) for the new Google Phone very quickly."
I can develop applications for my Motorola phone too. What the hell is new here?

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240827)

The article seems rather confused on the subject of open-ness. They say:

The finished product, expected within months, will unabashedly favor Google applications and services. "What's being developed is unlikely to be easily transportable to Yahoo (YHOO) and other (service) providers," says Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation
But then they state:

Consumers are potentially the biggest beneficiaries. Currently, many cellphone carriers limit the services and applications that their customers can use.
Ummmm.... it sounds like this new partnership is offering something that will, again, limit the services and applications that customers can use. Yes, it's another player in the market, and that kind of competition is a good thing... but having a phone providing Google-only services certainly doesn't qualify as "open" in my book.

I understand that they intend to make it easy for third party developers to make apps for this thing, but the above quote suggests that some components (in particular the Google apps) will be integrated at a level that third party apps won't be able to modify.

Again, I'm excited about the possibility of a new phone challenging the status quo in the cellphone market, but this effort hardly seems to be the drive towards openness that OpenMoko [openmoko.com] (and the now discontinued Greenphone [trolltech.com] ) is driving towards.

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (1)

Bee1zebub (1161221) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240669)

There was also the Tux Phone, which was reported in New Scientist a while back (unfortunately the article is behind a paywall). This was supposed to use generic hardware and run Linux (of course). No idea what came of it though: I read the article over a year ago, and I haven't heard anything since. This might have merged with, or turned into, what the parent referred to.

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240751)

Spring? OpenMoko plans to get the Neo1973 out by December at the latest! And a stable version, at that. How is Google going to compete with a completely open platform?

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (2, Informative)

abes (82351) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241021)

It isn't necessarily clear from a consumer's perspective why this is advantageous (I suspect we'll have to wait to see an actual product first).

However, there are some big benefits to both Google and the phone companies. For google, they get one step closer to world domination. They get a relationship with the phone companies, and the get to build a solid foundation for mobile devices (which will eventually cover more than just cell phones).

From the article, it sounds like they are planning on creating interfaces for their services. Like many of their services, part of the benefit they get is by simple collecting data on you. I wonder if they'll stick to web based (+Google Gears), or whether they'll make Java interfaces.

I suspect that they'll also create a new interface for Java (something along the lines of GWT, that uses native widgets). This might be a big boon to the cell phone companies which then only have to implement the specifics of the interface per new hardware device. I don't have a strong love of Java, but it's not a bad choice for mobile platforms -- especially considering there are chips have a hardware implementation of the JVM.

So the phone companies get: (1) software tools (Google doesn't have a long history of releasing development tools -- at least publicly, so it will be interesting to see how it actually fairs), (2) fast development of software with little to no licensing fees (OS, web browser, maps program, notepad?, etc.)

Also, an important note .. the partners are the companies that sell the phones, not make them. Which makes me suspect is seen as a good thing by the companies, as it allows them to tailor (i.e. control/limit use) services that they want. This can give them faster launch time for services, and a better way to annoy their users.

Again, no big win obvious for the consumer. However, I think in the end it will be seen by how good the interface is, how good the developer tools, and how things work together. The thing is, and a lot of people seem to forget this, is that phones are much more than just their specs. If the interface sucks, it doesn't matter the hardware, or what OS it's running. Likewise, if either the OS or hardware suck, you're equally screwed.

It will be interesting to see how OpenMoko fairs. I was a Linux user for a very long time. I remember when both KDE and GTK+ started off (and remember Enlightenment anyone?). I am therefore a bit skeptical when it comes to open source interfaces. Considering that they were developed by people on their free time for no money, they are great accomplishments. And at least the last time I used Linux and Windows at the same time (before XP), I could at least say that I preferred their interfaces over Windows any day.

HOWEVER, one of the big issues I observed was the inability to really create new ideas. The window managers seemed to always be a hybrid between Windows and OS X. I think a big reason for that is that innovation of that kind is really hard to do. It's hard because you have to come up with new ideas, and then you have to convince a bunch of people working on the same project that your idea makes sense. In large group projects, unless there is a clear leader, I think often the design ends up being a compromise between people. Which can make for robust interfaces, but not new.

Which is to say, I will be (happily) surprised if OpenMoko ends up giving new that other phone don't have. Google has the advantage of having large resources to throw at the problem, clear leadership on the interface issues, and a lot of people to help innovate. Of course, this still doesn't guarantee anything, but it is a long winded answer to why this is different.

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241533)

You know what gets on my nerves about all these discussions on new phone platforms. There is already a reliable, solid, muti-vendor phone OS out there: Symbian.
OK, it's not open source, but it could be if someone invested enough to buy it and open it. It's one of the most solid mobile OSes I've ever used, running on my Nokia E61i it's easily fast enough for web browsing, mutimedia,etc. Symbian also seems to be very supportive of developers, with good documentation. The sheer number of apps available is testament to it's developer support.

Re:We already have fifty! Finish one! (1)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241867)


Mod the parent up!

I've recently discovered Nokia's Series 60 development tools. Even though portions are closed, they provide support for almost every common language (I prefer their handy Python implementation - yes, Python on a cell phone that can make calls, talk to bluetooth devices, draw images/complex UI, take pictures, record audio, etc), making it trivial to develop apps for Nokia phones.

I think the US carriers are the real problem, not the lack of good dev tools. T-mobile lets me put my apps on my phone, but I'm not sure every carrier is this permissive (and even t-mobile has some limits if I want to easily distribute my apps.

-Chris

Open source or open specs (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240557)

The article is not clear, is the OS of the phone truely open source, or have they just opened up specifications for utilizing the OS?

Open source, yes. Open system? Don't know. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241887)

is the OS of the phone truely open source, or have they just opened up specifications for utilizing the OS?

If it's Linux, the kernel is open source. The article says it's Linux.

The bigger question is whether the specifications are open, or whether it's got binary blobs to talk to the hardware.

Thus opening the third layer of the Internet (4, Insightful)

christian.einfeldt (874074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240603)

Code, content, physical layer. Those are the three layers that Larry Lessig uses to describe the Internet. His concern, as expressed in The Future of Ideas, is that our common global culture could be locked down if we don't work hard to keep the Internet open. So Free Software, Creative Commons, and now this Google initiative are going to start to move us away from our dependence on Microsoft, ATT, and Warner Brothers / Disney. Google isn't perfect, but I say this is a step in the right direction. Don't underestimate the importance of having devices with open code at the fringes of the Internet. Microsoft wants to force you to have non-Free software to access the Internet. This effort by Google is one step away from that kind of lock-down. You go, Googlers!

Re:Thus opening the third layer of the Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240663)

are you going to start raving on about the blue pill and the red pill too? unless you're really new to this party you should understand that we were never dependent on ms. or is this just a bash disguised to make it look somewhat insightful or google's move revolutionary? it's really not. you know.

Re:Thus opening the third layer of the Internet (2, Insightful)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240815)

Quoting Redmond: Developers, developers, developers.

The easier they make it to develop the more popular it's going to be to make 'cool' apps.

What I want to know is (2, Interesting)

biggyfred (754376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240623)

What does this potentially mean for joe users like myself as far as interoperability with linux programs? Does this mean a platform that will be friendlier with syncing? Does it mean a competitive alternative to the WM phone OS? I ask because I really don't know. Any insights on this one?

Re:What I want to know is (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241197)

My guess is that the mail, calendar, RSS, GDocs (i would assume) will all by default stay in sync with your Google Account. I'd appreciate it if they were to make "hard" clients for all of those (calendar and Reader in paticular) for the desktop.

Re:What I want to know is (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242119)

I'd appreciate it if they were to make "hard" clients for all of those (calendar and Reader in paticular) for the desktop.
The calendar, mail (IMAP) stuff works well for me in Kontact [kde.org] . Kontact also has a RSS reader but you can't synchronize the settings with your Google account.

My plan (2, Interesting)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240683)

For all who are getting a little weary of all those great "Open Phone" initiatives being touted here and there without seeing much practical (affordable, stable, educational, worthwile) upshot coming of them, here's my plan.

1. Get a small (and I mean 'small', because it'll basically be the footprint of your phone-to-be), well-documented ARM development board, a small keyboard and a display.
2. Get one of them dirt-cheap GSM bugs (an online store recently mentioned on /. sells them for about $50 a pop)
3. Find out if it also supports a speaker-output, if and how programmable it is (some GSM bugs have an USB or serial interface on which you can send AT commands).
4. Hook it up to your board and test it.
5. Rig the OS for the board.
6. ???
7. Have Phun.

No brand tie-ins, undocumented hardware, binary blobs in the kernel, outdated development toolchains, whatever. Just dial and answer calls, damnit!

(oops) oh, so you want to browse teh intarwebs to? (2, Interesting)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241187)

(scant reply to post below me)

If you want data too, skip the GSM bugs (well, maybe some have GPRS feature hidden in their firmware somewhere :-) ) and go for a full-feature GSM/GPRS module.

These guys sell one [gsm-modem.de] (not affiliated with them, just an example). It's got all you could ask for. Just add an antenna and a battery to your board and you're set.

Add everything up and you will end up half the price of an iPhone. Best of all, it will run _Your Stuff_, and _Your Stuff_ Only. (_Your_ as in: only the stuff that you decide to put on, no crapola, undocumented "features" or government mandated remotely 'provisioned' (i.e. push-downloaded onto your set while you're not looking) snoop vectors).

Re:My plan (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241753)

now THAT sounds like fun!

I like openMoko (and i hope gphone uses something like it), but a project based on such an idea would be very popular.

I.e.
- Heres the hardware you need
- heres how you get openmoko/something else going on it.

It'd be like the wrt/nslu type projects but involving (and evolving) hardware and people in something very kewl.

Re:My plan (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242025)

Exactly! It's what I think the word 'hacking" should be used for. Tinkering with tech, then telling others how you did it. Shortest definition of any 'manifesto' I can come up with right now. Philosophers may add the ethical parts to it.

Sure as I am looking forward to what OpenMoko and others are going to be, I jost can't wait for the big brass to make up their minds as to which cell carrier they're going to strike a deal with, only to provide the eager geeks with a neat sandboxed, SIM-locked, (God forbid) NDA muzzled package...

Re:My plan (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242053)

oops, that last sentence turned out quite ironic, wasn't meant that way. I just wanted to say: I want it NOW, without all the locks and chains :-)

Wonder if it will be as successful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21240757)

As the Motorola A910 Linux based box.

Frist psot (0, Flamebait)

badzilla (50355) | more than 6 years ago | (#21240985)

Finally a company that actually has a clue. We can rely on Google to produce what I know everyone really wants - a phone that only makes voice calls not fancy-nancy "interweb" rubbish.

Re:Frist psot (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241219)

Your post has so many contradictions it's not even funny.
-The summary states that this will be a very Internet-heavy phone
-You assume Google actually knows what they're doing with this phone.
-Last post, anyone?

WIFI (3, Funny)

halfmanhalfpint (1184605) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241117)

So when Google gets into WIFI hotspots will they call them G-spots?

Re:WIFI (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241255)

Ha! But only partially funny, we have been wondering what Google's going to do with all that dark fiber it has in it's portfolio. Why not become an ISP? I'm a little worried about them partnering with a traditional (evil) telco, however. For various reasons, including the billing strategy. Perhaps the Google employees from outside of the US have some ideas since 3g has been around for quite a while in N. Europe, S. Korea, etc. Cell phones are a commodity now, and the minutes used should be treated as such also. It's amazing how big a ripoff American cell providers are, considering what you get. But they do have a lot of territory to cover, I guess..

Maybe this helps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241173)

to make Apple's iPhone SDK available for free... having 3 relatively open platforms (OpenMoko, Google, Apple(?)) available and competing for customers would be nice..

Linux, with Java on top... (1)

Jasin Natael (14968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241209)

Unless 3rd parties get to develop in any available language and it's just that the GUI is in Java, what's to differentiate this from what Danger (Sidekick) does? What differentiates them from billions of other handsets that run Java apps at slow speeds?

A perpetual skeptic, I'll read the announcement for my real evidence. But it sounds like a Microsoft-type ploy may be in order, where first-party apps are fundamentally better than later apps (although they both suck) not by any difference or deficiencies in the goals or capabilities of the third-party developers, but because the apps are subject to different arbitrary rules. Or like the iPhone, where 3rd-party apps to date have been relegated to Javascript and an active Internet connection... Google's motto aside, be wary. Putting other people down to make yourself look good a practice that seems to have pay off for others.

Reciprocal licensing. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241751)

Unless 3rd parties get to develop in any available language and it's just that the GUI is in Java, what's to differentiate this from what Danger (Sidekick) does? What differentiates them from billions of other handsets that run Java apps at slow speeds?

A product using many kinds of reciprocally licensed software (including the GPL and LGPL) can't be locked down into a "Walled Garden" like that. Linux is GPLed, so Google will have to release the code to their phone's kernel. If Google wanted to make a closed product like the iPhone they would have had to use a BSD core rather than a Linux one.

G-what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241241)

So now after the i-Everything wave of names we'll browse from our g-Phones using g-Spots?

iPhone, Apple and the Open Platform (1)

nick5000 (800669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241251)

By fostering open development for their platform and making it a central part of their strategy, Google may one-up Apple.

Alternative OS name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241351)

They could call it OpenMoko and then a lot of the work would have been done for them already;
OpenMoko.org.

Sprint = WiMax (2, Interesting)

Darth Cider (320236) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241369)

Sprint has invested heavily in 2.5 GHz spectrum, with 85% coverage of U.S. households. Predicted speeds [dailywireless.org] are 2-4 Mbp/s down and 1 Mbps up. Sprint's partnership with Google was announced in July [washingtonpost.com] . Quote: " '[T]his is not a cellular model,' said Atish Gude, Sprint's senior vice president for mobile broadband operations." At about the same time, Sprint announced a partnership with Clearwire, the other big WiMax spectrum-holder.

This could really put competitive pressure on telcos, especially if applications development leads to truly useful products. (Instead of silly little widgets.) Who wants a phone that can do less but costs more?

Nokia also absent (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241425)

I'd say that the absence of the #1 cell phone maker (while #2 and #3 is there) is more striking than some net providers missing.

Nokia is already in the game. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241837)

Nokia's already got an open source initiative, and it's quite possible that Google's phone will be using code released into the open source ecosystem by Nokia. From Nokia's web page:

Nokia has contributed to the Linux operating system kernel enhancements related to general OMAP support, OMAP/DSP gateway, Bluetooth, journaling flash file systems, power management, 2D graphics support of fbdev-subsystem on OMAP (omapfb), and USB (Universal Serial Bus).


On their project page [nokia.com] the following projects may also be relevant:

Affix - A Bluetooth Protocol Stack for Linux developed by Nokia Research Center in Helsinki and released under GPL.

Mobile Tools for the Java(TM) Platform (MTJ) - MTJ is an open source project in the eclipse foundation. The purpose is to enhance the eclipse platform with mobile specific features.

S60WebKit - S60WebKit is the engine behind the Nokia Web Browser. I'm not sure what browser Google is planning to use, but a webkit-based one would have a number of advantages, including greater compatibility with iPhone applets.

Second coming of the Jesus phone? (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241443)

It will be very interesting to see how well Google does the phone UI. The UI of their (main) search page is pretty clean, amazingly so for a company with as many products to promote as Google and as big as they are. But a Web UI and a phone UI are completely different and I'm wondering if they were able to resist the desktop paradigm.

It will be especially interesting to compare this to the iPhone.

I'm hopeful that we can see some additional progress on the phone UI front now that there are competitors to the "old school" mobile phone manufacturers. Maybe between the gPhone and iPhone, UI nirvana will be reached. But I'm not counting on it ;-)

Re:Second coming of the Jesus phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21241877)

I know it's popular to say that google has so many products. If you really stop and think though, they have very few things that we'd actually call 'products', especially given the size of the company.

The follow-up article (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 6 years ago | (#21241657)

Everyone missed the follow-up article!

"Nigeria has declared it will buy 500,000 gphones in the first batch but have decided to install WM6 over the top. Of course, they'll still pay for support from gphone".

The follow-up follow-up was something about Balmer, leaving the nigerian embassy) saying he had nothing to do with it while carrying a copy of Mandriva under his arm.

no single gPhone (1)

twoboxen (1111241) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242029)

There is no "gPhone". There are many gPhones on the Android open platform.

http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/ [openhandsetalliance.com]

I wish them luck (1)

bmajik (96670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21242413)

As much as my employer hates to see Google doing well, I hope that this announcement has the altruistic effect of making cell phone service in the US suck less..

but then, when i read the "pre-story" this weekend I almost posted a comment along the lines of what I'm posting now... ... no matter how good google makes something, once you start dealing with the US phone industry...it may be that not even google can make it worthwhile. GPhone changing the world was a much more credible idea when Google was going to own the airwaves. Partnering with existing cell companies means that we're going to get an almost-good, but ultimatly shitty product. However, I expect this will be a historical footnote that is used to trial/solve _some_ of the problems one encounters.. before google ultimately buys up that spectrum they're hoping to get and provides a mobile voice/data platform as a vertical market that they own completely.

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