T-Mobile and Google just announced the first-ever handset with the new Google Android operating system. Called the T-Mobile G1, it has both full touch-screen functionality, a QWERTY keyboard, a trackball for one-handed navigation, plus access to mobile Web applications like Google Maps Street View, Gmail, YouTube, and more. The G1 is available for pre-order now in the U.S. in limited quantities at T-MobileG1 if you're an existing T-Mobile customer. It will be available in retail stores beginning October 22, for $179 with a two-year voice and data agreement. As for our European brethren, it will be available in the U.K. beginning November and across Europe in early 2009.
Without further ado, here are the features: Wi-Fi, 3G (with dual-band UMTS), multimedia messaging, e-mail support (Gmail as well as other POP3 and IMAP e-mail services), instant messaging (with Google Talk as an option of course), a full HTML browser, GPS functionality, a 3-megapixel camera, the ability to multitask, a music player with access to the Amazon MP3 store, Bluetooth, and quad-band GSM support. Another very exciting feature (in my opinion) is it has one-click contextual search, which lets you search for anything simply by typing in something with the keyboard. This is very similar to the search feature on the Helio Ocean, in that it can search your contacts as well as the Web just by tapping in a few letters.
As for Google Maps, it will support Google Maps Street View, which lets you explore cities at the street-level as if you were right there on the corner. It will also have a built-in compass on the phone and allow you to view locations and navigate 360 degrees by moving the phone around. The aforementioned Amazon MP3 store is also a huge boon for the T-Mobile G1, as all of the songs on Amazon are DRM-free, and you can buy and download the song directly from the store to the device (only if you have a Wi-Fi connection though; you can search, sample, and buy with a cellular connection however). A song is $0.89, while an album is anywhere from $5.99 to $9.99.
Last but not least, the G1 will offer access to the Android Market, which is an application store similar to the iTunes App Store. Some of the available applications include ShopSavvy, an application that lets you scan the UPC code of a product with the phone's camera and instantly compare prices with other stores; Ecorio, an application that tracks your carbon footprint; and BreadCrumbz, an application that lets you create a step-by-step visual map using photos. Of course, you can also buy games like Namco's Pac-Man.
It's important to note that the T-Mobile G1 won't have Microsoft Exchange support right off the bat, though its open-source infrastructure means that can be easily remedied with a third-party application (according to Google anyway). Also, Gmail is available as push and yes, you can use it to read MS Office documents and PDFs. There is no stereo Bluetooth, and you can't use it as a tethered modem. And no surprise here, the G1 is SIM locked to T-Mobile for the time being, though I expect there will be efforts to unlock it.
Click here for full coverage of Google Android.