Google made the next version of its mobile operating system available to developers, and the result --Android 2.0 -- could lead to handsets and applications that are particularly appealing to mobile professionals.
While phones like the HTC Hero had Microsoft Exchange support built on top of Android, the latest version of the OS has this support baked in. This should make it easier for Android users to get their corporate e-mail, calendar, and contact information on their handsets. Additionally, Android 2.0 features a unified inbox that can handle multiple Exchange, Web-based e-mail, and POP3 and IMAP accounts in a single interface.
Verizon's Motorola Droid, unveiled Wednesday, is the first commercial handset to come with Android 2.0.
Android 2.0 also has multiple new application programming interfaces that could spawn productivity apps. The new account manager, sync, and contacts APIs open the door for programs that can draw in contact information from numerous sources.
The latest firmware also brings Bluetooth 2.1 support to Android, and it includes APIs for device-to-device connectivity with Bluetooth. While Google's demo video uses multiplayer gaming as an example, this could also potentially lead to apps that enable users to swap contact information wirelessly. This capability could spawn a host of business programs.
Google's latest mobile firmware also adds the ability to search SMS and MMS messages, improves camera controls and launching, adds HTML 5 support to the WebKit browser, and it improves the virtual keyboard and dictionary. Android 2.0 also adds support for multiple screen resolutions, and it boosts the calendar functionality by enabling users to see the attending status of meeting invitees.
Android 2.0 will also be capable of using Google Maps Navigator, which can provide free audible turn-by-turn navigation services. The first handset with Android 2.0, the Verizon Wireless' Droid, will be available Nov. 6 for $199 with a new two-year contract.
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