Bits of information have been leaking out about Google's next iteration of the Android platform with increasing regularity as we near the Google I/O event. Today we've gotten perhaps the tastiest tidbit yet. According to TechCrunch, Android 2.2 (codenamed Froyo) will have
tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality
built in. This would be the first modern smartphone platform to integrate these abilities natively, without carrier support.
Some phones, like the Palm Pre Plus and HTC EVO 4G (and costs extra for the EVO), are shipping with specialized apps for sharing their mobile connection over Wi-Fi, but these solutions are developed with the blessing of carriers. It's unclear if carriers would be able to disable this functionality or require a fee, without using a non-standard build of the Android OS. In the screen shots we can clearly see options for both standard tethering, and Wi-Fi hotspot tethering.
Google clearly sees this a differentiator in the US market where the iPhone still lack any tethering options at all. We are definitely looking forward to hearing more about this feature when Froyo is announced.