Hands on: Google's Android OS

Google's Android operating system for mobile phones is here. The buzz before Mobile World Congress was that several of the big shots in mobile microprocessors would be demonstrating working versions of the Android OS. And so it has proved.

Right now, Android is still rough around the edges - a demonstration of Google's intent rather than a completed system. The best example we've seen so far is on Qualcomm's stand (pictured). But it's not alone in dabbling with Google's new software. ARM has Android running on an old ARM9 chip, while other chipset manufacturers such as Marvell and Texas Instruments also have working Android demonstrations.

Android-powered handsets before Christmas

Despite the early prototype look of these devices, Qualcomm reckons we'll "definitely have [handsets] by the end of the year". It's not hard to see why.

Running on a Linux kernel, our first impression of the Open Handset Alliance's Android is that it's fast and fluid, with a refreshingly clean look. Of course, everything will probably change by the time we have handsets in our hands, but the core is very much there – it's not difficult to imagine we'll be able to get our hands on the OS soon.

Qualcomm's system uses its new MSM7201A chipset and runs on an ARM11 processor. What's more, it also packs in an HSDPA wireless capability and good graphic capabilities. Qualcomm's Android prototype also featured 3D graphics acceleration – we were shown the spinning Google Earth globe as a demonstration.

We saw the prototype browsing the web as well, checking out news stories and also a basic menu screen, which is like a more complex Apple iPhone home screen, seemingly with a dock on the right. A top-orientated taskbar completes the picture.

Texas Instruments is additionally demonstrating Android on the single-chip OMAP850 as well as its "flagship applications processor" the OMAP3430.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.