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Google Businesses The Internet

First Sight of Google Android 166

Posted by kdawson
from the it's-little-it's-lovely-it-lights dept.
CorinneI writes "At the Mobile World Congress show, four mobile processor vendors demoed pre-production devices running versions of Google's Android OS — a Linux-based, open operating system for mobile phones that will sport Google applications. The biggest surprise of the demos was how well Android runs on slow devices. 'TI showed Android on a Motorola Q-like QWERTY handheld with its 200 Mhz OMAP 850 platform, where the user interface felt smooth and fast, even with little Apple-like animated transitions between screens.' HTC, Motorola, LG, and Samsung all belong to Google's Open Handset Alliance"
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First Sight of Google Android

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  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erick99 (743982) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:35PM (#22398816)
    "The biggest surprise of the demos was how well Android runs on slow devices. TI showed Android on a Motorola Q-like QWERTY handheld with their 200 Mhz OMAP 850 platform, where the user interface felt smooth and fast, even with little Apple-like animated transitions between screens."


    I don't know why that would be so surprising. Google has quite a bevy of talented people at all levels. All products that come out of Google seem to have something to do with advertising and Android will be just such a vehicle for them. It's how most everything in cyberspace gets funded. You get something for free (a video, a song, a game) and an advertiser pays.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:43PM (#22398956) Homepage
      Also, 200 mhz really isn't that slow for an embedded device. My Mio 339 had a 233 mhz processor running Windows Mobile 2002. It flew, I really loved it. I replaced it with a Dell Axim x50v Windows Mobile 2003SE. The Dell has a 624 mhz processor and I'm always waiting for it. I believe that speed is 10% hardware, 90% software.

      I won't even talk about the performance of Compiz-Fusion on my Inspiron, as compared to Vista on the same hardware that an associate has.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Brian Gordon (987471)
        I don't know why that's slow for any device? Why on earth do you need fancy graphics for a telephone anyway? Linux runs on much slower hardware.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:58PM (#22399166)
          I'm guessing the ascii version of google earth wouldn't wow people much.

          You are here ---> .

          Your destination is here ---> .
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Funny. But am I the only person who thought how cool googleearth would be through aalib?
            • by bkr1_2k (237627)
              "Funny. But am I the only person who thought how cool googleearth would be through aalib?"
              Yes, you are.
          • Screencast it and play it back in mplayer. Mplayer on the console is just so much fun.
        • by Zelos (1050172)
          Rendering web pages takes a decent amount of CPU to do quickly, for one.

          Also, it's an ARM core, so (presumably) no FPU and a single integer pipeline. Something like the performance of an mid-range Pentium 1.
          • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

            by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:23PM (#22399502) Homepage Journal

            Rendering web pages takes a decent amount of CPU to do quickly, for one.
            Not really. Web-page rendering is memory intensive and I/O bound. The amount of device memory available combined with the speed of your connection and phone bus will have a much greater impact on the performance of page rendering than the CPU.

            In fact, there are few common tasks which are CPU-bound these days. Video encoding/decoding come to mind. (Thus the low resolution of the Android player.) This can easily be mitigated in a multimedia device by including hardware decoder chips. Gaming is another area where CPU can have an impact, but I imagine these phones aren't being presented as portable game machines. If someone wanted to make the next Android NGage, they'd probably look to NVidia for an embedded 3D chip to offload much of the work from the CPU.

            The iPhone's success wasn't because it had a fast enough CPU to render web pages. Quite the contrary. The success was that its memory, storage capacity, and touch screen allowed the iPhone developers to provide an easy-to-use interface to the browser. Safari itself isn't necessarily "better" than Opera Mini, but it is wrapped in a superior user-interface.
            • by Zelos (1050172)
              I wasn't aware of the memory issue - I just remember how slow web pages rendered on my Nokia 9500 with its puny CPU even using a WiFi connection.
              • Basically with more memory, you only do the initial rendering once, and cache that. Then when you scroll around, etc., it is just basically just blitting from memory.
          • Palms seem to do it with Blazer pretty well.
            The bandwidth is always the bottleneck not the hardware.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          God...why do people need color and graphics? Why can't they just use the console to do everything on their phones? God, people are so stupid. If everyone would just learn how to use emacs and program in Fortran, every computer could just have a 133MHz processor and 128MB of RAM. People are so dumb.

          ./ruby phone.mask/maps fsk -kshk BOOM!!1 (fire, people screaming in the background)
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by krazytekn0 (1069802)
            You young'uns and your new-fangled "FORTRAN" and "CONSOLES". It's like you don't even know how to use punch cards any more! Oh sh^t gotta go, my vacuum tubes are getting overloaded.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Gilmoure (18428)
        My Newton 2100 runs on a 162 Mhz processor. Is still plenty fast.

        Martha will never know what hit her!
      • Of course, there's an upper limit to software speed. You can always throw more hardware at the problem, but at a certain point, there just isn't a faster algorithm you can write. (I just finally got this when, after scoffing at the though of using Ruby to run a webserver, I discovered how easy and (relatively) cheap it is to simply throw more hardware at a well-written Rails app. Ruby does have massive speedups in its future (maybe 2-3x), but I can get that now by simply booting 2-3x as many EC2 instances.)
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        I have a Motorola Razr V3i and before that had a V300 (hacked to V500.) Both phones have a 32 bit, ~200MHz RISC chip and the interface is SLOW AS HELL because Motorola is lame. Also the Java on both phones sucks. I hope this google thing takes off.
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:44PM (#22398964) Homepage Journal
      The OMAP 850 is a multimedia-focused chip with graphics acceleration built in. The only surprise is that the reviewer called it "slow" based on the mere fact that it's a 200MHz chip.
      • The OMAP 850 is a multimedia-focused chip with graphics acceleration built in. The only surprise is that the reviewer called it "slow" based on the mere fact that it's a 200MHz chip.


        The OMAP 850 is slow. There are 4-year-old phones which had an OMAP 850. Can't we do better than that?
    • not only that (Score:3, Informative)

      by nguy (1207026)
      Not only are the developers good, they have implemented exactly this system before and run it on low-end processors: they developed Danger's Hiptop (a company built from the ground up on Java, strangely enough recently purchased by Microsoft).
    • by symes (835608)

      All products that come out of Google seem to have something to do with advertising and Android will be just such a vehicle for them
      And that is why I'll probably pass - Google has permeated through to many corners of my life but when it comes to such an intimate gadget (in that... nah, I'll let you work that out) I think I'd rather pay a premium and leave the advertising behind.
      • Several of Google's services have "paid-for" versions which are ad-free:
        Google Earth [google.com]
        Google Apps [google.com]
        Google Appliances [google.com]
        Also, Google SketchUp Pro, and a few others. Many of these don't even send data back to Google.

        As long as they can monetize it, Google will sell it; it doesn't have to just be an ad platform, and I think that their mobile push is an attempt at diversification away from Ads.

        I don't think Google is an Ad company; I think it is an information company, and so far the best way they've found to turn hig
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dlim (928138) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:14PM (#22399378) Journal
      I can't say I'm surprised either. If you look at their design philosophy [google.com], the first subheading is "Fast". Coming from a web/desktop development background, I was surprised at first to see the constant focus on efficiency. But apparently, it's paying off.
      • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @01:16AM (#22402744)
        ... both on ARM simulators (ie a reasonable comparisons). Android is about 5-10 times as fast as WinCE for equivalent tasks.

        As others have posted, 200MHz is nothing to sniff at (unless you're throwing it away with bloatware). If Windows 3.11 could run snappily on a 50MHz 486 then there is no good reason for slow software on a 200MHz ARM.

        One of the interesting outcomes of the speed difference is that this means Android based devices should have far better power figures than equivalent Windows CE devices.

        Efficiency is something you have to design in early. The idea that you caan make a bloaty architecture efficient is broken. You don't get a gazzelle by shaving an elephant's legs.

    • by omeomi (675045)
      I don't know why that would be so surprising.

      Well, the emulator is a tad on the slow side. I for one, was hoping the actual devices were going to be faster, so it's nice to hear that they are.
    • by Erpo (237853)

      "The biggest surprise of the demos was how well Android runs on slow devices. TI showed Android on a Motorola Q-like QWERTY handheld with their 200 Mhz OMAP 850 platform, where the user interface felt smooth and fast, even with little Apple-like animated transitions between screens."

      I don't know why that would be so surprising.

      Android is based on Java. In many minds, Java = slow. Also, some mobile phones have very high latency interfaces. Example: on the Virgin Mobile MARBL phone that I just replaced, it wo

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Muad'Dave (255648)
        Is Smug's Pizza at 1034 G Street, Arcata, CA 95521 any good?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Erpo (237853)
          It's all right if you don't want to leave town. If you're up for a 45 minute drive, go to Ferndale Pizza Company instead.
  • by theGreater (596196) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @05:43PM (#22398950) Homepage
    ...seem destined not to converge in any significant way, in spite of some pretty awesome hacks:

    http://benno.id.au/blog/2007/11/21/android-neo1973 [benno.id.au]

    -theGreater.
  • ... to be able to flash older phones which have the hardware support to handle Android..

    I'm lookin at YOU E70.. (Or Treo..)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Since only the kernel is Linux, and that is the only GPL component, I'm not sure you can call it linux (it the distribution sense), or open.
    • As opposed to the alternative of .. sorry you can't own your own phone you bought and its all drm locked and you can't develop your apps and you need to buy all your $3 midi ring tones and proprietary apps from us only.. alternative?

      It should be alright illegal to drm something you own. Imagine if our desktops were that restrictive? Why put up with it on your phone?

      With the google phone I can at least download apps and develop my own.
      • I suppose it is a bit depressing, though, coming from something like OpenMoko, who would actually reject hardware because they couldn't get GPL'd drivers for it.

        I mean, it's nice to have a little sandbox, sure. And it's better than nothing, and it seems a lot more likely to happen than OpenMoko or Qtopia, but it's still damned depressing, considering what might have been.

        But is Android really better than, say, Windows Mobile? Think of it this way: I can download apps and develop my own for Windows on my des
    • Since only the kernel is Linux, and that is the only GPL component, I'm not sure you can call it linux (it the distribution sense), or open.

      Only the kernel of my Kubuntu system is Linux. It should perhaps be properly called Mozilla / OpenOffice.org / KDE / X.org / GNU / Linux.

  • by fohat (168135) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:07PM (#22399296) Homepage
    it's got a pain in all the diodes down it's left side. (and it's very depressed)
  • 200MHz is slow? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigdanmoody (599431) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:15PM (#22399382)
    Since when was 200MHz slow? My old Visor Edge has a 16MHz processor and it feels quite peppy. It does everything I would expect a smartphone to do (other than the fact that it can't make phone calls), and it's easy to use. Have we gotten so used to bloat and poorly optimized code that a 200MHz processor in a phone seems slow? It's a *phone* for Pete's sake.
  • Too long to wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre@nospAm.geekbiker.net> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:15PM (#22399388) Homepage Journal

    I'm looking for a new smartphone right now. The Android based phones will fit the bill, but I doubt any products will be available until near the end of the year - perhaps just in time for the Christmas rush.

    What I want:

    1. QWERTY keyboard, the LG Voyager has the nicest keyboard I've tried. To bad the Voyager is locked down in BREW hell.
    2. Internet connectivity.
    3. Supports IMAP email to any server (I run my own).
    4. I don't have to pay a damn fee to enable for every little feature that it already comes with.
    5. I can install new applications without using some paid for server, e.g. there's a Symbian OS version of Putty. An ssh client would be awesome.
    6. Unlimited data plan available with provider - and reasonably priced.

    Would be nice, but not required:

    1. Linux based (not much out there, probably have to settle for a Symbian based phone).
    2. GPS module.
    3. Wifi support.
    4. If the phone has music playing capability, support for OGG (I'm not holding my breath).
    5. Camera, not really a big deal to me. I can live without one.

    Deal breakers:

    1. Locked down. It's my damn phone, you won't be telling me how I can use it!
    2. Windows Mobile. I'm a Linux system administrator, running a windows based phone would be so wrong.
    3. BREW/GIN or anything similar.

    So far, the Nokia E90 is the closest to match what I want. The Road's HandyPC S101 surpasses it, but isn't available in the US (afaik).

    • by lubricated (49106)
      I got the sidekick id. It's got an sdk but you can't install any application. There is an ssh client for it though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PitaBred (632671)
      I've got a Blackberry 8800 with all of the features you require (free apps for SSH and everything, I also run my own IMAP server) on T-Mobile, which has a flat-rate data plan and doesn't lock any devices. In fact, I just got a cheap Motorola L6 to toss in my pocket for when I don't feel like putting my crackberry on my hip when I go out. It has GPS, but no wifi. It does support music, but only MP3's, and no camera unfortunately. But the Pearl has Wifi and a camera, just no GPS that I'm aware of. So you
      • by blincoln (592401)
        The BlackBerry has some points in its favour as a smartphone, but there are some serious gaps:

        - The web browser is terrible (no support for the "display: none" and "visibility: hidden" properties in CSS? Abysmal HTML table support? What were they thinking?). There is a third-party alternative (Minuet) which is even worse in most ways. Opera Mini will run on it, but you are sending all of your data to Opera by using it and because it proxies all connections you can't use it to access intranet sites if you ha
    • by rindeee (530084)
      Okay: Nokia N810. Done. Hear me out. I have an n810 (does EVERYTHING you ask for save for the built in unlimited cellular data plan) and a cheap-o Cingular phone with data service (MediaNet Unlimited for $15/mo) which lets me run everything via a Bluetooth connection to my Cingular phone over the data service. I have a VoIP carrier I'm very happy with that I use at home with a second line for my n810. Works fine over HSDP and works 'okay' over EDGE. Even the VTC over SIP works over HSDP. When I'm so
      • by rossz (67331)
        I've actually considered going that route, but dislike having to carry around two gadgets instead of one. A really good smartphone will support putty so I can ssh into a system to do an emergency repair. If it's something so complicated that it's too much bother to use the tiny phone screen and keyboard, then I'll go home and get on a real computer. The idea is to use the phone to avoid having to interrupt something if at all possible. I have no intention of using it as a total replacement of a real com
        • by rindeee (530084)
          If you bide your time a bit, the N810 is rumored to be coming out with WiMax and 3/3.5G built in. I haven't heard if it's going to include carrier branding/lock-in, but I'd venture to guess it will be available unlocked regardless.
  • by marcushnk (90744) <senectusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:29PM (#22399608) Journal
    I can testify that the Q9 is a piece of crap with Windows Mobile 6. very sluggish and clumsy feeling after coming from the slick responsive world of a Blackberry 8800.

    Also I notice there isn't any "e-mail" icon on any of the screenshots...
    Does this mean it's going to be another iPhone (can only get push mail from Yahoo) type device..

    that would really suck if true. I _really_ hope that they're thinking of the enterprise with these things.. having to accept either RIM or MS devices only sucks balls when I know that Linux based OS's would be so much better.
    • "iPhone (can only get push mail from Yahoo) "

      Wow, that's among the most ignorant comments I've heard about the iPhone yet.

      Try IMAP/IMAPS/POP/POPS/ExchangeIMAP

      It's as good as any other phone for email.
      • by marcushnk (90744)
        IMAP/IMAPS/POP/POPS/ExchangeIMAP none of which are PUSH MAIL.

        True push mail doesn't require the remote unit to call the server if there is a new mail.

        Yeah big deal I can POP3 from a mobile device, what I want is for when my mail server receives an update it finds and update my handset.
        Immediately.

        Do your research,oh glass house living stone thrower of great ignorance.
        • by blincoln (592401)
          What do you expect? That type of functionality requires an interface between your mail server and your cell service provider. IE it will cost them money - probably a lot of money. Yahoo is probably the only company willing to fork over for it, since MS wouldn't want to support users of anything other than Exchange and Google was working on Android. I wouldn't be surprised if Android supported having mail pushed to it from GMail, but from other providers? It seems unlikely to me.
          Anyway, is it even really tha
  • going trough the trash outside my block.. mumbled something about having seen tank ships on fire off the shoulder of orion or something..
  • Smooth and Fast (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @06:43PM (#22399792)
    The UI was smooth and fast on my 486/33 running Windows 3.11. It's still quite capable running a no-frills X window manager and Pentium Overdrive. The Apple ][GS was reasonably snappy when it didn't have to access a drive. The only reason why a multi-hundred MHz device could be slow is programmer laziness.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! (33014)
      In part it's laziness; in part it's architecture; in part its economics.

      Economics means you have to have a product in user's hands if you want to make a difference. That's true even in open source. Things would have been much different for Linux if BSD hadn't had licensing issues. I myself, when faced with downloading either 386BSD or Debian 0.9 over a 28.8KBaud modem, went with Debian first because of uncertainty over the licensing. I wanted a "real" unix, but it turned out Linux was good enough.

      Then t
  • What matters most for me is reliability. I've a crap Orange SPV C600 that crashes all the time. Even the alarm function is buggy.

    My experience with mobile implementations of linux hasn't been great, experiencing laggy software and random crashes (the GP2X even had an issue where it would randomly brick itself). A mobile OS which is a Java software layer on top of Linux on devices with limited resources makes me uneasy.
  • snappy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joe Snipe (224958) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @08:46PM (#22401004) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who thought snappy meant you didn't see the apple like animations?

    BTW- slashdot: fix mobile.slashdot.org so us new centro owners don't have to fight with the webpage!
  • The TI OMAP850 [ti.com] has an ARM9 in it for the application processor and an Edge radio [ti.com]. Everyone blasts Apple for coming out with Edge on the iPhone, but since this is Google it's OK?

    Actually, for Edge, the OMAP1030 [ti.com] is the current TI solution, but it has only a single ARM9 for the radio and application processing.

  • by realdodgeman (1113225) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @01:39AM (#22402866) Homepage
    Google does have a GIT repo for all the open source components of Android. The kernel is here: http://git.android.com/ [android.com]

    You can also read (here [google.com]) that

    Over time, more of the code that makes up Android will be released, but at this point, we have been concentrating on shipping an SDK that helps application developers get started. In short: Stay tuned.
  • I figure anybody with a phone running Android will quickly become the Commander of Data. ...Anybody? Anybody? Data? ...

    Try the veal!
  • Nuts (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jivecat (836356) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @11:46AM (#22407528) Homepage
    I'm out of it... I was really hoping Google Android would be something that could walk around my house and help me find my keys.

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