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Inside The GPhone: What To Expect From Google's Android Alliance

If you think the Google Phone is all talk, you're wrong: Here are eight technologies--GPS, multimedia, mobile Web browsing, gaming graphics, and more--which Open Handset Alliance members will bring to the upcoming mobile handset.

Call It The 'GPS' GPhone

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SiRF Technology brings GPS to theGPhone.

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Global-positioning system (GPS) technology might be on the cusp for most of America's cellphone users -- Verizon has begun aggressively marketing its availability as an option -- but I'm betting it'll be de rigueur on the GPhone. That's where SiRF Technology Inc. comes in. The Android partner, based in San Jose, Calif., bills itself as a specialist in folding "location-awareness" features into mobile devices.

For our predictive GPhone assessment, the salient fact to note is that SiRF isn't a garden-variety GPS service or software provider. It's heavier duty than that: SiRF offers chips which enable GPS to be hard-wired into the handset. The integrated circuits are also small enough that they won't disturb the svelte profile of the GPhone's case. The SiRFstarIII GSD3t chip measures a scant 3.12-mm by 3.17-mm, at a height of 0.68 mm.

SiRF stresses that its SiRFstar III and SiRF Instant architectures are "power misers." However, adding a standalone integrated circuit into the GPhone to support GPS will clearly stress the already tight power-budget with which its engineers are grappling.

Accordingly, it's probably fair to expect little or no daylight between the GPhone's battery life and that of Apple's iPhone.

Really Lightweight Web Browser

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Opera Mini 4 is a fast, lightweight browser.

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Given that U.S. cellphone networks remain too poky for desktop-like Web speeds, the GPhone will be fitted with a browser which loads without the usual, lengthy mobile lag.

This argues for a really lightweight client. That's where Opera comes in, and also where an analysis of the Open Handset Alliance membership roles as a GPhone predictor hits its first stumbling block.

The mobile Opera Mini 4 browser has just been released, to rave reviews. This seems to be just the ticket the GPhone could use as its killer app, since Opera Mini 4 is optimized for quicker scrolling, navigation, and page rendering on mobile handsets.

However, Opera is not an Open Handset Alliance member. Still, that's not necessarily an impediment to the GPhone's adoption of the browser. Consider than an Opera spokesperson coyly refused to tell ZDNet whether the company has been approached to join the Alliance, and added that Opera is "very close to Google."

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