Live blog: First Google Android phone is unveiled

T-Mobile USA shows off the first device to run Google's long-awaited mobile operating system, Android. CNET News reports from the event in New York.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
6 min read

NEW YORK--Nearly a year after word of a "Google phone" started spreading, T-Mobile USA and the search giant are revealing the first mobile device to run on Google's Android operating system. Anticipated is a smartphone manufactured by Taiwanese electronics maker HTC called Dream. Below is CNET News' live coverage of the event here, which has concluded.

Click here for full coverage of Google Android.

10:15 a.m. ET: We're waiting for the event to start. As noted by my colleague Stephen Shankland, some photos of T-Mobile's G1 phone--also known as the HTC Dream--are emerging shortly before the official debut here.

10:30 a.m.: T-Mobile USA's chief technology and innovation officer, Cole Brodman, takes the stage and introduces everyone for the launch. Andy Rubin of Google takes the stage, as does the chief technology officer of Deutsche Telekom, Christopher Schläffer.

10:35 a.m.: Schläffer announced that Deutsche Telekom is also announcing the Android phone across the pond on T-Mobile by the end of the year. He is talking about how Deutsche Telekom has grown its data revenue by 43 percent. Traffic has grown 250 percent, and the company is ready to capitalize further.

A first official view of the G1 phone, aka the HTC Dream. Google's Android operating system, on which it runs, lets people view photos and add them as shortcuts to the phone's desktop. T-Mobile/CNET Networks

10:40 a.m.: Andy Rubin takes the stage and introduces Peter Chou, CEO of HTC. He starts off by congratulating everyone, from Andy Rubin to the whole T-Mobile team. We're 15 minutes into the press conference, and we still haven't seen the phone. That said, Chou described the device and called it iconic.

10:45 a.m.: Brodman says the company is going to drive change by working with third parties. No more fuzzy pictures, and no more unsubstantiated blog posts. "Here is the G1." And he reveals it. They start to play a video on the big screen. Everyone in the crowd holds up their phones and cameras to get a picture of it.

Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, addresses the crowd. T-Mobile/CNET Networks

10:50 a.m.: Now all the executives line up on stage to take pictures. They are bombarded with photographers. The phone looks a lot like the Sidekick. I'm not sure how iconic the device is. But now they're going through the features, showing how to drag and drop by swiping the touch screen. The home screen looks a lot like the iPhone screen. One of the big things the G1 allows you to to is multitask, so you can be getting messages as you're talking or doing something else on the phone.

10:51 a.m.: The G1 comes with Google Maps street view, and there is a compass mode, and the scene moves as you do. Google is front and center. There isn't a pinch feature to zoom in and out, as you would with the iPhone, but you can highlight an area, and blow up the image. They also show how you can use the dedicated keyboard and then use the touch screen to access links on a Web page. They show the long press so that you can click on a link and then send an e-mail directly.

Google Maps on the G1 phone is a bit more dynamic than the version on Apple's iPhone. T-Mobile/CNET Networks

10:55 a.m.: Now Brodman is talking about the Android Market, a sort of application store for the Android phones. He talks about how third parties will drive innovation. And then he rolls another video. Now we are going to get into the nitty gritty, hopefully, of what the Android Market will be.

10:58 a.m.: The video is of a bunch of programmers singing the praises of open source. They are talking about how cool it is to develop on the platform. But they aren't really saying anything about what the Android market will be and how it will work. Now Brodman is bringing developers on stage. There is an application called Eco Reo, which allows you to track your carbon footprint to be a better global citizen. And Shop Savvy helps people find the best prices on things.

11 a.m.: Now we are into the Q&A. The price of the G1 will be $179, with a two-year contract. It will have two data-messaging plan options. The first offers a unlimited Web usage and some messaging for $25. Then there will be a $35 plan, with unlimited messaging and Internet access. It will require a voice plan, and it can't be used as a tethered modem.

T-Mobile is live with 3G connectivity now in 16 markets. By the time of the G1 launch, it will be in 22 markets, and by November, it will offer 3G in 27 markets, which will cover about 80 percent of T-Mobile's customers.

The Android Developer Community invites outside developers to make applications for Android. Google

The Deutsche Telekom executive said the G1 will be available in the United Kingdom in early November and across Europe in the first quarter of 2009.

11:05 a.m.: The phone will be locked to the T-Mobile network. Brodman said Google and T-Mobile will be marketing the device together. There is no Microsoft Exchange support. But it could be a perfect opportunity for the developers in the Android Market to develop something.

Executives from HTC, Google, and T-Mobile answer questions at the G1 launch event. T-Mobile/CNET Networks

The phone uses browser technology called WebKit that uses the same base technology as Google's Chrome browser. Andy Rubin called it Chrome Lite. Brodman said the device is aimed at the consumer market.

11:10 a.m.: Rubin says the phone will have a robust Gmail experience, enabling fast e-mail search. There will also be integrated online presence with Google Talk.

As for music, you won't be able to port iTunes music to the device. No big surprise there, though the question was asked. DRM-free music, however, can be added to the device.

Another question regarded Skype. There will be no integration with eBay's VoIP service, though the device has Wi-Fi.

The G1 will be able to be used internationally. It has a dual-band radio for UMTS and a quad-band radio for GSM.

Google co-founders Larry Page, left, and Sergey Brin speak at the G1 launch. T-Mobile/CNET Networks

11:13 a.m.: Now it's time for some special guests. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page take the stage. They just rushed over from the Google transit launch, braving the Manhattan traffic.

Brin said he has already been playing around with the device and described an application he developed that allows him to throw up his phone and calculate the amount of time it takes before it hits the ground. Not an application that will likely be found in the Android Market.

Larry Page also said he's been having tons of fun playing with the G1. And he said the phone is as good a PC as anything people were using just a few years ago. Now the press conference is over, and they have invited the crowd downstairs, where they have a bunch of G1s set up to play with.

11:18 a.m.: "It's exciting for me to have a phone I can play with and modify, just like I could with computers in the past," Brin says.

And Page asks audience members to compare how fast they can search on laptops to searching on their phones. Android is designed to narrow the gap. "Being able to do search with the ability you're used to having on your laptop is a really, really worthwhile thing, and we're really excited about that," Page says. Google, of course, makes the vast majority of its considerable revenue and profit from ads that appear next to search results.

11:28 a.m.: Gmail messages are pushed to the phone, so new e-mail arrives without the user having to check for it manually. The Gmail application can work as a front end to other e-mail services, too.

"The device syncs well to Google services--also to Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft as well," Rubin said. He also said the Gmail application has several features from the Web-based Gmail interface: threaded conversations, fast search, and the ability to archive messages.

Thanks for joining the live blog! We'll post more photos and detail from the event shortly.

CNET News' Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.