Google's earliest vision of Android has been unearthed from the vaults. Feast your eyes on what might have been with Google's 2006 prototype for Android phones.
The picture above shows Google's prototype for a Google Mass Market Phone, sporting a "basic phone user interface". It was shown to phone network T-Mobile, along with a plan for Google to pay for people's data costs if they bought the phone.
The Verge reports that the 2006 prototype, revealed during Google's legal dispute with Oracle over Java, boasted a now puny 200MHz ARMv9 processor with 64MB of RAM and ROM. It included 3G, USB support, Bluetooth 1.2 and a 2-megapixel camera with a dedicated shutter button. Extra storage was added by miniSD card rather than microSD, as is now standard.
The screen is a 160x120-pixel job with 16-bit colours. Buttons were still in fashion, with a Qwerty keyboard, while the basic Android requirements were two soft menu keys.
Under the bonnet, Google had developed a new home screen, dialer, messaging app, address book, and a WebKit-based browser. The boffins in the big G's labs were also working on apps for Google's online services, including Google Talk and Gmail, with multimedia messaging and chat-based texting also on the cards.
Google approached T-Mobile with the phone and a then novel pricing plan. Google suggested offering the phone with unlimited data for ten bucks a month, with Google absorbing the data costs by waiving commission when phone sales.
Google reckoned users would get through an average of 15MB data per month. If you bought one, you'd have to do your own troubleshooting: there'd be online support and FAQs in the phone but customers would "agree to self-help" for Google apps. T-Mobile would then provide normal customer service for non-Google issues.
Google planned to launch Android in summer 2007, but it was not to be. Android launched with the T-Mobile G1 at the end of 2008
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