Today Google rolled out its new operating system called “Android” (aka “Éclair”) to the web design community, and first reviews are very enthusiastic.
Some of the upgrades included in Android 2.0 are:
• an overhauled browser with a better user interface and HTML5 support
• the ability to search all saved SMS and MMS messages and automatically delete the oldest messages in a conversation when a defined limit is reached
• support for multiple email accounts
• more comprehensive camera controls that support built-in flash, digital zoom, and scene mode
• improved keyboard layout makes it easier to hit the correct characters and increases typing speed
• “smarter” dictionary “learns” from and expands with word usage
• Bluetooth 2.1 support
• an upgraded version of Google Maps with layer support
And there’s more. Android’s voice control has its own dedicated dashboard and is embedded throughout the whole system. There is a new setup for contacts that imports them from any source and a function called Quick Contact that allows users to contact each other instantly by tapping an icon associated with a specific person. Testers say the virtual keyboard is easier to use, and a new browser URL bar allows users to tap the address bar directly to navigate and conduct instant searches.
If you are currently a developer, you can use the Software Development Kit Manager to add Android 2.0 support to your SDK and update your SDK Tools to Revision 3 (this is required for the new build). If you are a new developer, you can download the Android SDK from the download site.
Non-programmer types will have to wait a little while to get their hands on 2.0. Droid Smartphones featuring Android 2.0 are supposed to be launched by Verizon on October 30 or November 6, depending on the source. This Motorola phone is generating rave reviews and raising hopes that programmers can write hot applications for a winning mobile platform that is basically the anti-Apple iPhone. Ads during the U.S. NFL games on Sunday taunted the iPhone for what it lacks, including a keyboard, 5-megapixel camera, and the ability to run simultaneous applications, widgets and even take pictures in the dark. It even criticized the iPhone for not being open to allowing developers to customize applications for it, ending the ad by noting, “Everything iDon’t, Droid Does.”
Of course, no product is perfect out of the box, so all you Android developers get in there and start finding the bugs and fixing them.