Google yesterday released the open-source code powering its Android mobile operating system and invited outside developers to design their own features, in time for today’s US launch of the first handset running the software. AFP News cited a comment on, the site where the code is available for downloading, as noting that that the code release marks “a big day for Android, the Open Handset Alliance, and the open-source community… All of the work we’ve poured into the mobile platform is now officially available, for free, as the Android Open Source Project.” Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA today officially released the first handsets for sale that run the Android operating system. HTC’s touchscreen G1 device is available nationwide and costs US$179. The operator has recently aggressively expanded its 3G HSPA network in an effort to ensure G1 owners can make use of high-speed services.

Google hopes to establish Android as a standard operating system for mobile phones. Reports this week have linked Motorola and Kyocera to development of Android-powered devices. Google, however, faces serious competition from the world’s largest handset vendor, Nokia, and its Symbian system. US software giant Microsoft also has a Windows system for mobiles and a separate consortium is working on an open-source Linux system.