It was rumored, and now it's here: on stage at D, Sundar Pichai just revealed a new version of the HTC One that runs an untouched, stock version of Google's Android operating system. It will be available from the Google Play store starting June 26th for $599. The unlocked device will run on both AT&T and T-Mobile in the United States with support for high-speed LTE data on both networks. This "Nexus user experience" version will contain 32GB of built-in storage. Much like the special edition Samsung Galaxy S4 unveiled during I/O, Google will be directly handling future software updates.
With the announcement, customers can now purchase the two leading Android handsets available today stripped entirely of the custom — and often criticized — manufacturer "skins" they originally shipped with. Suffice it to say, with both devices running identical software, it will be interesting to see which Google Edition smartphone proves more popular in the weeks and months to come.
Update: In addition to getting some hands-on time with the device, we've learned some new details on the stock HTC One. In terms of button layout, things remain unchanged compared with the regular model. Accessing Google Now requires a long press of the home button, which can also be double tapped to bring up Android's multitasking bar. And yes, unfortunately the software "menu" button (black bar and all) is still here for apps that call for it.
HTC also provided another interesting tidbit: it's currently "examining the best way to support early adopters of the One" that may prefer the stock Android experience over Sense, perhaps by way of an AOSP ROM. The company isn't providing specifics on that front just yet. Still, if you're a One owner feeling burned by today's announcement, there may be hope.