Android 2.0 has not yet been formally announced, but a great deal of information about it has recently appeared on the Web.
Among the most significant changes in the next version of Google’s OS for smartphones will reportedly be support for synchronizing with Microsoft Exchange and Facebook.
Adding support for Exchange will make Android a better tool for business people. Users will be able to work with their e-mail messages in a new “unified” Inbox, which despite its name won’t also display Gmail messages. There is no word yet on calendar synchronization.
Facebook support is going to allow users to bring their contacts over onto their smartphone.
As the version number suggests, this isn’t a small update, but will include changes across much of the operating system and bundled software.
Android 2.0 will include a new app called “Car Home” which collects together functions needed while driving, and these can be controlled with voice commands.
The Contacts app is going to include a pop-up windows that will allow users to perform common tasks, like call or send a text, without having to open the full contact screen.
Smaller changes in Android 2.0 will include support for layers in the mapping app, a favorites icon in the browser, and others.
It apparently will have some preliminary support for gestures, but squeezing pictures to re-size them is not included in the current pre-release version.
There is little or no consistency in the reports on when Android 2.0 will be available — they range from later this month to the middle of next year.
One of the unconfirmed reports is that the Motorola Droid — Verizon’s first Android-based device — will be released later this year with this new OS version.
Whenever it’s released, this operating system will appear on devices from a wide range of companies, including HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and many more.