Verizon Wireless will begin upgrading its popular Motorola Droid smartphone to Version 2.1 of Google's Android mobile operating system March 18, Motorola confirmed.
A Motorola spokesperson told eWEEK the upgrade is being deployed to a small number of Verizon Wireless test users that afternoon, with a broader rollout to all Droid users coming shortly thereafter.
Android Central said 1,000 updates will roll out to Droid owners at 12 p.m. EDT, and another 9,000 phones will be updated at 11:59 p.m. EDT. If these upgrades pass muster, another 200,000 updates will go out to Droid owners on March 20, the site said. Batches of 200,000 will roll out thereafter until all of the more than 1 million Droid owners have Android 2.1.
When Verizon launched the Droid in November 2009, the device arrived with Android 2.0, which at the time was the latest version of Google's open-source platform.
While the device sold more than 1 million units in less than three months, it became clear after the Jan. 5 release of Google's Android 2.1-based Nexus One that users craved the modern, snazzy features offered by that device, sold by Google.
The update includes pinch-to-zoom multitouch for the browser, Apps Gallery and Google Maps, as well as the special weather and news widgets Nexus One users currently enjoy. Google Maps will also have personalized suggestions and starring synchronized with Google's desktop version of Google Maps.
In addition, the Droid will support voice-to-text entry, allowing users to tap the microphone icon on the virtual keyboard to enter text, such as e-mail, by speaking into the phone.
There is a new gallery application with a three-dimensional layout to let users view and share photos taken with their phones and images from online Picasa Web albums. Live Wallpaper, a fun but frivolous feature for interactive backgrounds, will also now be available for the Droid's large home screen.
Motorola promised on its Facebook Page to put Android 2.1 on the Droid back in February, but it was delayed for more than a month. The Motorola spokesperson did not say why the update was delayed.
Regardless, the update will be a welcome addition to the heavy but sleek Droid, which has garnered great reviews and sold at least six times as many units as the Nexus One (135,000 units).
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