More details have come to light about the all-but-certain Google phone.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the search-engine giant plans a series of announcements over the next two weeks about Google mobile-phone software, which would bundle together most Google applications — search, maps, YouTube, instant-messaging — on a mobile platform.
The Google phone, sometimes called the gPhone in semi-mocking reference to the Apple iPhone, would not be an actual cell phone. Instead, it would be an operating system, possibly free, that would run on several different models of cell phone.
Most radical of all, however, the presumably Linux-based OS would be "open" to third-party developers, meaning that anyone could create applications for it.
U.S. cellular carriers severely restrict what consumers can do with their cell phones, especially when compared to the availability of plans, services and software available in Europe and Asia.
Most write or license specific applications that run only on phones running on their networks, and forbid the addition of third-party software.
They often disable the Wi-Fi networking capabilities many smartphones now come equipped with, forcing the use of their expensive data plans to access the Internet.
Rumors are that the Google phone would have few, if any, such restrictions, and would support GPS tracking, Wi-Fi, high-speed "3G" cellular networking and a still and video camera, depending on the hardware.
The Journal cites unnamed sources as saying Google has been talking to Taiwan's HTC and South Korea's LG Electronics about making phones that will run the Google mobile OS.
Google may also be ready to name T-Mobile, in some ways the most consumer-friendly of the major U.S. cellular carriers, as the Google phone's wireless operator of choice.