Google's Android team Sept. 15 released to developers Android 1.6, the oft-blogged about Donut branch build from the Android open-source project.
As expected, the build supports CDMA with new telephony APIs, as well as QVGA and WVGA screen resolutions to enable greater application coverage on more Android devices. There is also a Quick Search Box, which lets users search their phones for contacts and applications from a search widget on the home screen.
Another perk is the text-to-speech engine. As this implies, Android apps will be able to voice what users text into their smartphones. Voice-enabling applications are becoming a huge deal, particularly in the wake of the popularity of Google's Voice Search technology, which lets users speak into their Android and Apple iPhone smartphones to find search results.
Google Android team member Xavier Ducrohet said in a blog post the Android 1.6 SDK will be available on smartphones in October, though apps written for older versions of Android will continue to run on devices with Android 1.6. Both the Motorola CLIQ and the Sprint HTC Hero are expected to hit the shelves next month, so it's not a stretch to think they both will be running Android 1.6.
The Donut release is a positive development after the poor press the platform received from a recent AdMob survey of Android Market application sales, which are a pittance compared to money iPhone app developers make from the Apple App Store.
The Android team tried to make things better earlier this month with some improvements to the Android Market.
Previously knocked for not being as polished as Apple's App Store, the Android Market now lets developers promote their applications and games with screenshots, promotional icons and descriptions. Google also created sports, health, themes and comics sub-categories for new and existing applications via the publisher Website.
Meanwhile, the Android team expects to publish informational blog posts on how to port apps to support different screen sizes, as well as how the Quick Search Box text-to-speech engine work in Android 1.6.