Right on schedule, Google has released the developer toolkit for Android, its open mobile platform. As we reported last week, Android is an open-source, Linux-based platform that includes an operating system, user interface, and applications designed to run on many different phones and, in Google's own words, create "thousands of 'Gphones'." The first Android handsets are due to arrive in the second half of 2008, but Google is getting the ball rolling early with the developer community.
The Android SDK is freely available in Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux flavors via Google's Android page. Together with the SDK, Google has made available documentation and sample programs, created a discussion group for developers, and even opened an Android Developers YouTube channel. The channel includes a handful of videos showing off software running on Android (including a version of id Software's Quake), an overview of platform, and a development demo that walks developers through building an Android app.
Google is motivating developers further with the Android Developer Challenge, through which Google will give away $10 million in awards to developers who make the best Android apps. Google is particularly interested in applications targeting social networking, media management (e.g. photo editing and sharing), productivity and collaboration, gaming, novel user interface design, and some others. Submissions will be accepted from January 2 through March 3 next year, and the 50 best entries will each receive a $25,000 award. Among those 50, Google will distribute an additional ten $275,000 awards and ten $100,000 awards.