With over 50 new Android phones poised to hit the market next year its hard to ignore the reality that the platform is picking up not just in popularity, but in variety as well. Some argue the open approach is Androids greatest strength, while iPhone loyalists would have you believe the lack of a singular vision is its biggest weakness. Either way, Google has been able to sit back and observe the changes in the market since the G1 first launched, and the company finally has an answer for even the purist among us, meet the Nexus One. Sporting a speedy Snapdragon processor running on Android 2.1, it also features a 5.0 MP camera, and two microphones to assist in noise cancellation. The hardware itself will be manufactured by HTC, but the phone was designed, and will be sold by Google itself as an unlocked carrier independent device.
The Nexus One represents a pretty significant game changer not just for the wireless industry, but for a multi billion-dollar company that has never sold a single piece of consumer hardware in its history. With so many high profile handsets on the market already Google will need to compete not just with iPhone’s, Blackberry’s, and other Androids, but with the media perception that they are nothing more than a software company. Failure to hit a homerun on their first attempt could end up doing little more than alienating competing companies who just recently adopted Android, and now find themselves in a head to head battle with the OS maker itself.
Leaked Photos on Twitter and a January 2010 release date are pretty convincing evidence of the phones existence, but Google has yet to come out formally to confirm or deny the exact specs. I hate to drag out a tired old metaphor, but is the iPhone killer finally here?
At long last, Google has finally released the source code for Android 2.0 (codenamed Eclair). Motorola's Droid is the only smartphone currently shipping that's built around the latest version, but now that Eclair's out in the wild, expect to see plenty more handset makers jump on board.
The release is also great news for the Android modding community, many of which have been eagerly awaiting the update. Modding guru Steve Kondik, otherwise popularly known as "Cyanogen," stated in a Twitter message that he's already gotten Eclair to run on his HTC G1 smartphone, noting that "it runs really well, fast, and smooth. Audio and video not working yet, though."
So what's the big deal? Android 2.0 is the most significant update to Google's open source platform to date. Just a few of the added features include native Exchange support, search functionality for all saved SMS and MMS messages, more camera options (built-in flash, digital zoom, white balance, and so forth), an improved virtual keyboard, multi-touch support, and more. This could be the OS that finally gives Apple's iPhone OS a run for its money.
Do you smell something cooking in the Android SDK? That's Android 2.0, otherwise known as Eclair, which is now supported in the software development kit. That's great news for Android developers, who now have new APIs to play with for sync, Bluetooth, a revamped graphics architecture with better hardware acceleration, and a few other goodies.
The highly anticipated Android update also includes Exchange support, better contact management, search functionality for all saved SMS and MMS messages, a much improved camera with built-in flash support, digital zoom, white balance, color effect, scene mode, and macro focus, an improved virtual keyboard, multi-touch support, better browser controls, and a whole lot more.
An interesting side note to all of this is whether or not Android 2.0 will be made available on T-Mobile's G1 device. While we haven't heard anything official other than a sketchy statement by T-Mobile, there's been some rumblings that the G1's meager amount of internal memory may not be enough to accommodate an Android 2.0 installation. Cross your fingers, G1 owners, or take matters into your own hands and hack your handset.
The MID, which reportedly runs Android 2.0 and features a 5-inch touchscreen, likes to be addressed as the Dell Streak. All that is known at this moment is that the Streak features a 5MP camera with dual LED flash, WiFi/Bluetooth/3G connectivity, a microSD slot, and a 1,300mAh battery.
The new version has added native Exchange, Youtube, and Facebook support. With Facebook integration, users can import contact data from their friends list. The Browser has reportedly been much improved; rivaling the iPhone 3GS in rendering speed. Google has even added a unified email inbox. Google Maps has been totally updated, adding support for Layers. Finally, there’s a new “Car Home” with big buttons for things you might want to use when driving.
This is still an early build, but it gives us a real sense where the OS is going. If there’s one way to describe what Google has done in this revision, it would be “more polish”. From the browser to the contact list, everything looks more well thought out and functional. The firmware appears to be running on the mysterious Motorola Droid. The phone has been reported as being a Google Experience phone, so everyone seems ready to believe this is stock Android 2.0. So, how do the screens strike you?
It's not too often that you see giant pastries requiring two or more people just to the lift the thing being delivered to a company, but when that company is Google, well, it's a safe bet another Android release is on the way.
To quickly recap, the Android 1.5 update carried the codename Cupcake, Android 1.6 (which still isn't out yet) is referred to as Donut, and Eclair looks to be the codename for Android 2.0.
The ginormous pastry was caught on video being delivered to Google's lawn, right next to the oversized cupcake. Maybe Google just has a thng for sweets and felt an eclair would complete its landscaping motif, but we're willing to bet developers will be getting their hands on the next version of Android very shortly.