NEW YORK--Verizon Wireless customers will soon be able to get their hands on the much anticipated Google Android phone called the Droid.
The companies officially unveiled the device at an event here. Like most smartphones of its class, the phone will cost $199 with a two-year contract. And it will be available to consumers starting November 6. Customers can pre-register for the device now. John Stratton, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Verizon Wireless, said at the event that the device could be pre-ordered, but Verizon's public relations team said he mispoke, and users can simply put their name on a list to get more information about the device.
The device offers voice-activated search that allows users to speak a query and the Google-powered search engine will deliver Web results or results from the device such as contacts, music, and photos. The voice search also works with the new turn-by-turn directions for Google Maps. It allows users to view geographic information, such as My Maps, Wikipedia entries, and transit lines on the map.
Stratton said he had used the navigation service just yesterday on a trip to Arkansas. He said he simply spoke "gas station" into the phone and it quickly found nearby gas stations. When he clicked on one of them, it activated the turn-by-turn directions and he was given spoken directions right from the phone.
While the new Droid is loaded with lots of cool Android apps and has access to the more than 10,000 applications available in the Android Market, it does not have many of Verizon's branded services. For example, Verizon's VCast music service is missing in this version. But Stratton said that will be added eventually. And the phone does not have Verizon's VZ Navigator, since it comes bundled with the Google Android navigation.
The good news is that some of the services, such as navigation that Verizon charges for on devices running VZNavigator, will be free to users of the Droid.