The device will run Android version 2.1 and will run special software not available to current Android devices. The WSJ reports, "Google designed virtually the entire software experience behind the phone, from the applications that run on it to the look and feel of each screen. Google appears to want to throw its brand behind a device more directly, designing a phone without working with the wireless carriers that often dictate what features they allow on their networks."
What's interesting is that the head of the Android project at Google has flatly said, more than once, that the company is not interesting in making or selling hardware. Obviously, this changes things. Granted, HTC is actually making the device for Google, but it will be fully branded by Google and the user experience will be Google's and not HTC's.
The device will be available directly from Google online, and buyers will have to provide their own cellular service. It will be sold unlocked, so that users can choose the network on which to use it. Whether those will be CDMA-based (Sprint, Verizon) or GSM-based (AT&T, T-Mobile) is unclear, though it is more likely that the device will be GSM-based to give it a wider base of possible users.
On Saturday, Google admitted that it had given its employees a device to test out over the holidays. They'll be evaluating all the systems on the phone and report how things work. Google calls this process "dogfooding." This device is the Nexus One. It will be available in early 2010. Price point and other specs remain unknown.