On the eve of the first Android phone launch, Google has released the source code for the mobile operating system to the public. Here's what Google's Dave Bort says about the move in the official announcement:
Android is not a single piece of hardware; it's a complete, end-to-end software platform that can be adapted to work on any number of hardware configurations. Everything is there, from the bootloader all the way up to the applications. And with an Android device already on the market, it has proven that it has what it takes to truly compete in the mobile arena.
Even if you're not planning to ship a mobile device any time soon, Android has a lot to offer. Interested in working on a speech-recognition library? Looking to do some research on virtual machines? Need an out-of-the-box embedded Linux solution? All of these pieces are available, right now, as part of the Android Open Source Project, along with graphics libraries, media codecs, and some of the best development tools I've ever worked with.
Bort also points out that developers can "influence" the direction of Android development, which could subsequently change "the future of mobile devices as a whole" if the mobile platform really takes off. You'll find everything you need to pick apart Android (including an introductory YouTube video) on the Android Open Source Project website.
As a reminder, T-Mobile plans to roll out the first Android-based phone—the G1—in the United States tomorrow. The device will cost $179 and feature a large touch-screen display, a physical QWERTY keyboard, and perks like built-in access to Amazon MP3 and Google Maps with Street View.