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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May 2008, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Google takes on the iPhone
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

Users can pull menus bars down and move applications around
Internet giant Google has been showing off a touchscreen version of its new operating system for mobile phones.

'Android' is designed to work on a range of handsets from manufacturers like LG, Motorola and Samsung.

At its developer conference in San Francisco, Google unveiled a new prototype with features very similar to Apple's iPhone.

New functions

The latest version uses a familiar system of swipes and taps to show missed calls and new messages.

Menu bars are pulled down and applications dragged across the screen, while a magnifying tool zooms in on web pages just like Apple's iPhone browser.

Google showed off a demo of its mapping software running on the system.

A compass function lets users scroll around street level views of selected cities by physically moving the phone.

Apple demonstrates there is plenty of opportunity to go around
Google's head of engineering Vic Gundotra

The prototype model could be unlocked by tracing an signature pattern on to the touch screen.

Basic arcade games like Pacman were shown running on the device, which will also support more sophisticated 3D graphics.

Google's head of engineering Vic Gundotra said: "I think the iPhone is just a world-class device with a great web browser that delivers in many respects on one of Google's key goals; to bring the web to the mobile.

"Apple demonstrates there is plenty of opportunity to go around."

Android launch

Android is a piece of computer software designed to run the latest mobile phones.

Classic arcade games like Pacman were shown on Android

It is based on "open source" standards, which should make it cheaper and easier for other computer companies to develop their own games and applications.

Google has already formed an alliance with 34 microchip makers and mobile phone companies to work on the technical standards around Android.

The internet giant is giving the software away for free.

It hopes to make money in the longer term by getting more people to use its search engine on their mobiles.

The first handsets running on the system are due out by the end of the year.

No done deal

But the success of Android as a platform is far from guaranteed.

It will face heavy competition form rival operating systems made by companies like Microsoft, RIM and Symbian.

Other phone makers like Nokia and Apple have refused to join Google's mobile alliance and are continuing to work on their own touchscreen devices.

A new version of Apple's iPhone with support for faster 3G data networks is expected to go on sale next month.

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