Google releases cellphone programming tool

Internet giant Google Inc. released its Android open software programming tool for mobile phones on Monday.

Internet giant Google Inc. released its Android open software programming tool for mobile phones on Monday.

The free,downloadable software development kit (SDK) allows programmers todevelopprograms for cellphones using a common platform, with the goal of making it easier for consumers to surf the web on cellphones.

Using theJava programming language and the kit, programmers will be able to createa variety of applications for use on mobile phones,such as tools forsocial networking, media management, games, news and information and communications software.

The tool kit includes the Dalvik machine for running Java programs, an integrated browser, support for many media and image file formats and, hardware permitting, supports a variety of wireless communications.

The Mountain View, Calif., company announced the project last week with partners from the Open Handset Alliance, a group of 34 companies includingwireless carriers from the United States, China, Spain and Italy,handset manufacturers and cellphone microchip makers. No Canadian wireless providers have signed on yet.

Thefree software package is slated to hit the market in the second half of next year. Consumers will need to purchase a new phone in order to use the new applications and software, because the developing kit was not designed for existing handsets.

Motorola Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., HTC and LG Electronics Inc. have agreed to use Android in some of their phones.

Google launches Android contest

As part of the tool kit launch, Google also announced the Android Developer Challenge,a contest for programmers offering more than $10 million US in prizes.

Theprogrammers who build the best mobile applications using Android, as chosen by a panel of judges,will be eligible for prizes ranging from $25,000 to $275,000 US. The contest will have two parts, with Challenge I accepting submissions from Jan. 2 to March 3, 2008.Phase2 will launch after the first handsets built for the platform become available late in 2008.

In the contest announcement on the Open Handset Alliance website, the group says that the contest will help create a thriving developer community, which "will be an important part of creating better mobile experiences that delight users around the world. We want to support and recognize developers who build great applications for devices based on Android."