Google has started giving the world its first official information on Android 1.5, the next version of this company's operating system for smartphones. Some of the major enhancements in this upcoming version include on-screen keyboards, more home screen widgets, video recording, and stereo Bluetooth.
Android 1.5 will be based on the "cupcake" project which has been so much in the news in recent months, and will not only include its most important features, but many others as well.
Back when it was still known as cupcake, the most significant new feature anyone knew about was the on-screen keyboard.
This will allow users to enter text with the phone in portrait mode. Currently, users of the T-Mobile G1 have to rotate it to landscape mode and open the keyboard to enter text.
In addition, the first Android-based device without a hardware keyboard will debut soon. The HTC Magic will be released by Vodafone in Europe this spring, and it is reportedly on its way to T-Mobile USA after that.
The new on-screen keyboard will work in both portrait and landscape mode, and allow third-party developers to create custom keyboards.
More Home Screen Widgets
Widgets are small applications created to perform a simple task. Android 1.0 includes a pair of these on the Home Screen: the analog clock and the search widget.
Android 1.5 will add widgets to display the user's calendar, a music player, and a picture frame.
More Video Options
The upcoming version of Google's OS will offer greater support for video, including video recording with the built-in camera and playing video in the MPEG-4 and 3GP formats.
Users will also be able to upload videos to YouTube, and upload still images to Picasa, two services owned by Google.
Web Browser Improvements
The new version will allow users to copy and paste and search within a page. It will also include a tabbed screen for displaying bookmarks, history, and most-visited pages.
Other New Features
Android 1.5 will also add Stereo support to its current Bluetooth capabilities.
Among the smaller enhancements will be showing Google Talk friends' status in the Contacts, SMS, MMS, Gmail, and Email applications.
Google did not announce when Android 1.5 will be released to the general public, but the final version of the software development kit (SDK) will be out around the end of this month, giving programmers the tools they need to create applications for the new version of this platform.
For those looking for some hints on timing, the HTC Magic is expected to be released running this version of the operating system, and HTC and Vodafone have committed to get this new model on the market this spring.
It's not known when the T-Mobile G1 will get an OS upgrade, but it's not likely to be long after the release of the Magic.
More information on Android 1.5 can be found on Google's website.
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