Search engine giant Google has been hard at work with the development of its operating system for mobile phones, the increasingly popular Android. First launched on the market about a year ago, the Android OS has just reached version 2.0, which is also known around the world as Eclair, and has been through a series of interim releases, including Android 1.1, Android 1.5, and Android 1.6.
Anyone should agree that 2009 has been a great year for Android, not only due to the fact that it has seen this large number of updates, but also courtesy of the high popularity it sees among mobile phone users. Android's market share has been growing fast, and it is expected to maintain the momentum for a longer period of time: some of the previous forecasts showed that it is set to take the second position on the market by 2013. The odds seem favorable for Android, that's for sure. While at the beginning of the year, there was only one device available on the market running under it, namely the T-Mobile G1, also known as HTC Dream, now we have more than a dozen, and they come not only from HTC, but also from other leading mobile phone makers around the world.
Just to remind you some of the most popular Android phones available or about to be launched, we should name the HTC Magic, HTC Hero, HTC Tattoo and HTC DROID ERIS, the Samsung Galaxy, Spica, Moment and Behold II, the LG Eve, the T-Mobile Pulse, the Motorola CLIQ and DROID (and their European versions DEXT and MILESTONE), the Acer Liquid or the just announced Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 (expected to land only next year), among others.
These phones run under the different versions of Android that are now available on the market, while the latest flavor, Android 2.0 Eclair, is only available on the Motorola DROID, and will also come to the Motorola MILESTONE when it reaches Europe. Software updates for some of the aforementioned handsets are also expected to emerge, so as to enable as many users as possible to enjoy the features of the latest Android release.
What these new features refer to would include better touchscreen capabilities, a more appealing virtual keyboard, support for multi-touch gestures, an enhanced contacts application (with the possibility to add multiple contacts to the device from various locations), synchronization capabilities for contacts, fast access to information on a contact with Quick Contact for Android, Google Maps Navigation, support for HTML5, double-tap zoom support, and more.
Google's Android platform has seen a lot of changes during its rather short life, but that won't stop here. Many of you might have already heard that Google also plans to deliver the Android 2.1 this year, and those who didn't know it have learned it now: there will be a new version of Android outed into the wild before the end of the ongoing year. Indeed, the upcoming Android 2.1 is only meant to be a minor release, but it is still an update, and it shows Google's commitment towards the mobile operating system.
It remains to be seen what other mobile phones will reach the market featuring Android during the ongoing year and which of them will receive an update to the latest variants of the operating system. HTC has announced that Hero will see Android 2.0, skipping the Android 1.6 update. And we've already seen T-Mobile running under the platform. Other handset makers haven't unveiled yet plans to update their handsets to the latest OS flavor, and some rumors around the Internet suggested that we won't see too soon another phone with Eclair on board, but we hope that they will prove false in the end.
Expect Android 2.1 to reach the market in the following weeks (though, most probably, it will arrive sometime towards the end of December). A series of bug fixes for Android 2.0 and some minor enhancements are said to come with it, but nothing is yet official. Until more details emerge, additional info on Android 2.0 is available here, but you can also have a look at some of the reviews with the platform that have made it to the web.