Google is rolling out the latest update to its open source mobile platform to T-Mobile’s G1 and myTouch, setting in motion a busy schedule that is poised to see the OS arrive on a new crop of handsets due out this quarter.
Version 1.6 of the Android platform, dubbed Donut, coincides with a makeover of Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android Marketplace, the online store for Android apps.
On the feature tally, Android 1.6 boasts an integrated camera, camcorder and gallery interface, updated voice search and other tools that make it easier to query various sources — such as browser bookmarks and history, contacts and the Web — directly from the home screen.
News of Donut’s roll out arrives as Google’s Android seems to be coming of age. In just a bit more than a year since its roll-out, the OS will likely be offered on three of the top four carriers in the United States, and on smartphones made by HTC, Motorola and Samsung. If rumors of a Dell phone coming to AT&T are true, Android would soon be included on all the major U.S. networks.
Google’s open source platform was initially criticized for being rushed to market before it was ready, prompting some manufacturers to delay launches and resulting in tepid reviews of the first handsets, including the G1.
The Android rollout rush is as follows: T-Mobile, the nation’s fourth-largest carrier, is set to commence pre-sales for Motorola’s Cliq on Oct. 19, with retail sales following on Nov. 2.
T-Mobile, which already sells the HTC myTouch 3G, the follow-up to the first Android phone, the G1, is also going to start selling the Samsung Behold II later this year.
Sprint, the nation’s third-largest provider and the exclusive carrier for Palm webOS handsets, is set to begin selling the HTC Hero Oct. 11, and the Samsung Moment on Nov.1.
Following its recent partnership with Google, Verizon Wireless is also expected to introduce its first Android-based phones. It’s widely expected Verizon will soon issue Motorola’s Android-powered Tao by November.
Android is keeping pace with the respective releases and OS updates of its top rivals, which chiefly include Apple’s iPhones, Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry family and Palm’s (NASDAQ: PALM) webOS devices.
RIM is expected by November to issue its answer to the iPhone 3GS in the form of the Storm 2, while Apple’s juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. For its part, Palm recently unveiled the Pixi, the smaller sibling to the Pre, the slumping company’s play to reassert itself in the smartphone market.
On the OS front, RIM recently acquired Torch Mobile, and is slated to release an updated mobile browser by early 2010, while Apple updated the iPhone OS twice recently, with the latest version 3.1.2 just out last week.
Palm is gearing up to take its Palm App Catalog store out of beta by December, and also just made a significant OS update available to developers — webOS 1.2.
Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is prepping version 7 of its Windows Mobile OS, and just rolled out a family of smartphones from several manufacturers running the fledgling Windows 6.5.