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Google's unlocked Android smart phone is available for $399 plus a $25 developer registration fee and comes in this slick black design.  (Source: Google)
Google's is making life a bit easier for its developers

Want to develop applications for Google's Android Market, but don't want to get stuck with having to enter a T-Mobile contract to get a phone to test on?  Just buy the new unlocked Google Android-OS based smart phone.

Google released last Friday the Android Dev Phone 1, a SIM-unlocked and hardware-unlocked G1 phone, which will run the Android OS and allow developers to test new applications.  The phone is available for $399, plus the $25 to register as an Android developer on the Android Market site, raising the cost to $424. 

Appearance-wise, the unlocked G1 looks pretty slick with a new dark steel gray case design, with a pattern in the back.  The phone is available in United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, France, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Poland and Hungary.

For now, Google's developers can only get one phone per account, to prevent hogging of the unlocked hardware.  The phone marks a departure from Google's first smart phone, the G1 on the T-Mobile network which debuted September 23 and was not unlocked.  The G1, however, is still the significantly cheaper phone, available for only $179 with a T-Mobile contract.

The G1 also appears to be picking up steam and is expected to possibly announce sales of over a million G1 phones by January 1.  While short of the 74 days needed to sell the first million iPhones, the G1 would come very close to the iPhone's initial pace, reaching the million mark at 99 days, if it hits it at exactly the year's end.  This raises the stakes for developers, who are looking to cash in on the growing user base, much as Apple's developers have.

Google warns that non-developers buying the unlocked Android phone for personal use may experience issues.  It states, "Since the devices can be configured with system software not provided by or supported by Google or any other company, end users operate these devices at their own risk."

To wrap up the spate of Android-related happenings, Google has also released Android 1.0 SDK Release 2, the second version of its software development kit.  The kit allows developers to write applications for 1.0 Android phones, like the G1, as well as fixing some crucial bugs.  Among the bugs fixed was a particularly nasty hole that allowed Java Reflection APIs to access private or protected fields and methods, a serious security risk.





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