Never have mobile operating systems so roused the appetite.
Google announced Sept. 15 that the SDK for Android 1.6, the newest version of its open-source mobile operating system, known as "Donut," is now available for download.
(Version 1.5 was known as "Cupcake," and future versions are reportedly code-named ??Â½clair and Flan.)
While many of the details of the new Android software development kit have already been made public, T-Mobile, the carrier that has been exclusively carrying the Google operating system, officially announced Oct. 1 that the SDK is ready for developers to download. Additional details can be found here.
The OS is said to be arriving on phones as early as October and offers a raft of new features, such as allowing developers to enable applications to be rendered properly on different display resolutions and densities, as well as to specify which screens their apps support.
Additionally, according to Google's official Android 1.6 video, "Android 1.6 includes support for CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access] in the telephony stack. Support for new screen sizes and CDMA means Android can run on even more devices and networks."
It also supports quick searches, of the Web and of the phone, from the device's home screen. A delight for the impatient, the search engine begins providing results while the user is still typing, and it becomes "smarter" with each search, placing previously chosen or more frequently referenced answers at the top. Users can also select the types of content or applications they want to include or leave out of searches.
Voice-activated dialing is another new feature, and so is a text-to-speech API-ideal for travelers and language students-that speaks a typed phrase in one's language of choice with the correct pronunciation.
Improvements have also been made to Android Market, Google's App Store equivalent, to make it easier to discover new applications and read user reviews, and to allow shoppers to see screenshots of the application posted by the developer.
Still other improvements include updates to the camera, camcorder and gallery experience. Images and video can be more quickly toggled between, and the camera is said to launch 39 percent more quickly and offer a 28 percent improvement in the time between shots.
Since its debut in November 2007, Android has been gaining popularity and market share, and expanding beyond smartphones to form factors including netbooks.
Market analysis company AdMob on Sept. 30 released its smartphone use findings for August, showing Android use to be on the rise. "Ad requests from Android devices grew 17 percent month over month in August, following a 50 percent increase in July," reported AdMob, which measures mobile usage, not handset sales. "Given the new devices launching in [the fourth quarter], it could be a huge holiday season for the Android platform."
Google has said it expects Android to be on 18 to 20 phones by the end of 2009.