T-Mobile released the G1 mobile phone to the public this week, the first true competitor to the iPhone. And what makes the G1 a legitimate threat is Google's Android operating system, complete with apps, just like the iPhone. But Android apps will play a significant role in attempting to dethrone the iPhone - mostly because its open source, developers will face less scrutiny and easier acceptance for app creations, and because Android apps will eventually work across more networks, and more phones. So, let's take a peek at some of the early apps, ranked somewhat loosely in popularity according to Website Magazine's Peter Prestipino's shiny new G1. The numbers are current as of this writing. (If the apps below are not linked, it's because the Android website is not displaying them, but they are available through the G1 itself.)
ShopSavvy: 10,000-50,000 downloads, 538 ratings (4.5/5 stars). Scan barcodes with your camera and find the best prices on the Internet, and at nearby stores. We recently wrote a review about a similar, non-Android application, with mixed results. My guess is that the Android app is much more capable.
The Weather Channel: 10,000-50,000 downloads, 432 ratings (4.5/5 stars). No surprise here, and the name pretty much sums it up.
MySpace Mobile: 10,000-50,000 downloads, 348 ratings (3.5/5 stars). Again, the name says it all. What's interesting is that this is the lowest rated (by stars) app on the list. It's unclear whether that's because of its functionality, or the G1's audience.
WikiMobile Encyclopedia: 10,000-50,000 downloads, 125 ratings (4/5 stars). Over two million articles, including images. "Faster and uses just a fraction of the network data vs. the Android browser."
T-Mobile HotSpot: 10,000-50,000 downloads, 146 ratings (4/5 stars). Automatically determines when you are in a T-Mobile WiFi hotspot, enabling the user to connect that way instead of the 3G network, saving battery power. Theoretically, would also allow a connection to Skype, saving on minutes.
Accuweather: 5,000-10,000 downloads, 205 ratings (4/5 stars). Not much information on this one yet, but one forum I read found that this app was "way better than The Weather Channel app." Accuweather app includes a live Doppler radar map, also according to the forum.
Compare Everywhere: 5,000-10,000 downloads, 205 ratings (4/5 stars). Similar to ShopSavvy - scan barcodes, find out if you're getting a good deal. Includes reviews, shopping lists and wish lists. The personal favorite of Website Magazine's editor - and his wife's.
Pro Football Live: 5,000-10,000 downloads, 119 ratings (4/5 stars). A football fan site, with live updates and scoring, news, photos and a personalized home page.
Translate: 5,000-10,000 downloads, 81 ratings (4/5 stars). Language translator - type in a word or phrase and get the translation in the language you select. Supports 150 language pairs.
PicSay: 5,000-10,000 downloads, 126 ratings (4.5/5 stars). An on-the-fly photo editor. Distort images, add shading and effects, speech bubbles and props to your photos, then share them with friends via email, your blog or online phot sharing sites.
Keep in mind that these are actual applications, and not games. However, many of these applications have more ratings than games and just as many downloads (at least as far as we can tell from the less than precise download numbers.) It's interesting to note that two on this list are shopping services. It perhaps indicates that the G1 audience is a little more business- or consumer-oriented than the iPhone - also indicated by the low rating of the MySpace app. It might also be a sign that mobile ecommerce is going to heat up, now that consumers are armed with more viable tools.
Of course, it's early and we will have to wait for some time to find some real answers. Stay tune.