Google's Android springs to life, spewing $10 million

A preview of the software developer's kit for Google's upcoming mobile-phone platform gives programmers a chance to start building applications, and perhaps even win cash from Google for doing so.

Today, as promised, the first preview version of the Android Development Kit (download it for Windows or Mac) surfaced on the Google Code site. Last week, Google made big news by announcing Android, an open, cell-phone platform being developed in conjunction with the more than 30 companies that compose the Open Handset Alliance.

If you're a developer of mobile-phone software, you'll likely want to dive right into the documentation for Android. If you're not, you likely won't read about Android again until next year, when (and if) it starts surfacing on consumer-end cell phones.

Android SDK (Credit: Google)

The big news from today's release is that Java will be the language that powers third-party applications on Android. The SDK also includes the WebKit browser, as well as support for multiple multimedia file formats and GSM wireless. CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland has more information about the technical details of the Android SDK.

To encourage developers to get busy with Android, Google is offering $10 million in prizes in the Android Developer Challenge to the creators of the best Android applications. The top prize appears to be a combined $300,000, so if you've got a great idea for a cracking cell-phone app, now might be the time to dust it off. Even if you don't have mobile hardware for testing your creations, the Android SDK includes a helpful emulator.

Take a look at Android screenshots in a CNET Reviews image gallery. For more info about what Android phones will look like and when they might appear, read this interview with Google mobile-platforms director Andy Rubin. For more information about Google Android from Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz, watch the video from Google below.

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