Google is showing developers what to expect from the next version of the Android operating system.
The new branch of development is being called "Donut," and it will add multiple features to help Android compete against rivals like the iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, and webOS mobile operating systems. Donut is not Android 2.0, but many of its features and capabilities will likely be found in the next official firmware update.
One of the most important new features in this update is compatibility for CDMA networks, which are used by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. Both mobile operators have publicly said they will offer Android smartphones, but they will likely have to wait until an official update to offer devices.
The Donut branch also includes integrated universal search, which should enable users to search online and within the phone's calendars, contacts, music, and installed apps. This is expected to be similar to the Spotlight search feature Apple rolled out with its iPhone 3.0 software. Additionally, Donut features more text-to-speech features, automatic backup, and a home-screen widget to let users easily toggle functions like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Developers first reported Donut included code that would enable multi-touch like the iPhone's pinching and stretching to zoom in and out of Web pages. This was later refuted by Google Android framework developer Romain Guy in a developer forum Sunday.
Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms, said the search giant plans to provide biannual software updates for the Linux-based mobile OS. Following the dessert-themed naming convention, Rubin said developers can expect the next two updates to be called "Eclair" and "Flan." Existing devices like the T-Mobile G1 and the myTouch 3G should be able to receive these software updates over the air once they're finalized.
InformationWeek Analytics has published an independent analysis on application delivery. Download the report here (registration required).