Google releases Android 1.6; Palm unleashes WebOS 1.2

Google Android logoGoogle and Palm are rolling out updates to their mobile operating systems. Android 1.6, codenamed donut, introduces CDMA support. WebOS 1.2 brings some enhancements to Palm's Synergy synchronization service.

This is a bright week for smartphone users who don't own iPhones. Google and Palm are rolling out some nice improvements in new point releases of their respective platforms. Windows Mobile users also have something to look forward to, as Microsoft prepares to launch Windows Mobile 6.5 in a matter of days.

Android 1.6, which is codenamed Donut, has been rolled out to unlocked developer handsets and is coming soon to the G1 and possibly other carrier-supported phones. This version includes some compelling improvements for both users and developers. One of the most significant advancements is the introduction of CDMA support in the telephony stack which will open the door for Android phones to launch on Verizon and Sprint.

Sprint is planning to launch the HTC Hero later this month, making it the first CDMA carrier with a confirmed Android handset. Verizon's first Android phone will likely be the Motorola Tao, which was previously codenamed Sholes. Rumored to have a WVGA display and an OMAP 3430 processor, the Tao could break the pattern of lackluster specs that has afflicted virtually all previous Android offerings in North America. Android 1.6 introduced expanded support for screen resolutions, which makes WVGA seem pretty likely. Some blurry shots of the device have recently surfaced and are attracting interest on gadget blogs.

Under the hood, Android's Linux kernel got a boost from version 2.6.27 to version 2.6.29. The kernel has undergone a lot of significant changes between those versions. The most important smartphone-related change is the introduction of Intel's open source WiMAX stack and drivers in the mainline kernel for version 2.6.29. Some reports indicate that Sprint is interested in launching dual-band Android devices in 2010 with both WiMAX and 3G support.

New development frameworks introduced in 1.6 bring intriguing new capabilities to the platform, such as support for implementing gesture-based user interfaces and text-to-speech functionality. For more details about developer features, you can refer to the SDK release notes.

Android 1.6 also offers a bunch of nice improvements for end users, such as new camera software with significantly better performance. The platform has also introduced a new universal search and indexing system. Through a search box on the home screen, users will be able to input a query and see results from many different sources of content, including bookmarks and contacts. The search box offers AwesomeBar-like smart completion and will remember your most frequently picked items.

Palm has also released a new update, version 1.2 of WebOS. One of the most noteworthy improvements in this update is support for LinkedIn in the Palm Synergy synchronization service. Palm has also added the ability for users to input a credit card number in the App Catalog program, indicating that commercial software could be available soon. Palm announced the release in an entry on the company's official blog. A more detailed overview of the changes can be found in the release notes.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Android, Google, mobile phones

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