Google demoed its forthcoming Android mobile operating system at its I/O developer conference today, complete with some flashy new applications. The most impressive: a Google Maps app with an internal compass of sorts, which responds to your specific orientation when you’re looking at Google’s Street View. As you turn, the screen turns.
What we still don’t know: When phones running Android will actually go on sale. (The second half of 2008 is still the best Google will give us.) But Android head Andy Rubin shared a few more details during a press Q&A:
- Multi-Touch: The demo presented by Google was flashy but it was all single-touch. Rubin said that’s because the hardware used in the demo was only capable of single-touch control. (He didn’t specify the manufacturer — HTC?) If a gadget company can cook up a multi-touch phone like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, then Android might someday support it — but nothing now.
- Cooperation with carriers: No update on whether the two biggest U.S. carriers — AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) — would join the Android party. Rubin asked rhetorically, “Why wouldn’t a carrier want to allow any application to be put on a cell phone?”
- Applications: The winners of Google’s Android developer challenge won’t necessarily get any help from Google, like having their apps built-in to phones. Rubin said that there might be an additional promotional push (besides the prize money), but nothing is guaranteed. We assume most of the apps that ship with the phone will be Google-made.
Video of the demo, courtesy AndroidCommunity.com: