Before touchscreen became the norm, QWERTY smartphones were far more common than just the BlackBerry smartphones that make most use of them today. Before the first Android consumer device, the G1, Google were prototyping their mobile software on a device known as the Sooner. Developer, Steven Troughton-Smith, has gotten access to this device and its early build of Android, and shared some hands-on impressions.
The UI understandably looks a little different, given its non-touchscreen operation. In some of the screenshots posted on Troughton-Smith's blog, there are some areas which strike at least a passing resemblance to the Android we're more familiar with though. The status bar looks pretty similar, as does the analog clock. That said, some of the operation is still pretty familiar to what we know and love. The device was designed to search Google right from start up, hitting the home button brings up the app drawer, and Google Talk and Gmail are both present. The software build on the phone is dated a full six months prior to the release of the Milestone 3 (M3) version of Android -- the initial release.
Over on OSNews however, Diane Hackthorn of Google's Android engineering group, has claimed some of Troughton-Smith's observations were a little misleading. Joining the team in 2006, Hackthorn claims that the G1 and the Sooner were basically the same, bar the obvious difference with the G1 having a touchscreen interface. The underlying code she says, is basically the same. Curiously, she also states that the decision to drop the Sooner, was made well in advance of the launch of the first-generation iPhone.
Interesting stuff for sure, and for the Android enthusiast it's pretty awesome to see a device that helped shape the OS we all know, and love, today. Without the Sooner, this past Thursday's Samsung Unpacked event could have looked quite different.
For a whole heap more photos and screenshots, head on over to the source link below.