Reuters first confirmed that Android 2.0 (Eclair) will be released this year and my sources keep telling me the Motorola Sholes from Verizon will be the flagship phone to launch the new update. Motorola announced we would get a first look at their new Android phones in September and yesterday sent out media invitations for a September 10th event. With two more weeks left to go before we might see Android 2.0, tips are flying in at a rapid pace.
The following information should be considered a rumor and I’ll let you judge how accurate we have been in the past. I think our readers are pretty smart so I’ll present some public info and you can answer the following questions on your own. This is a 3 part series I will update over the following days.
Please remember that anything is possible with Android 2.0. Google, Motorola, and Verizon are working very hard to make this major update compete directly with the iPhone OS 3.0 and the Palm Pre WebOS. It appears they are pulling out some major new features to ensure Android 2.0 is a huge success.
1. Is Google Maps 4.0 to be launched alongside Android 2.0?
We have known Google Maps 4.0 was in beta for quite some time because we have seen it appear in aTrackDog reports.
What new features could Google be planning that would justify a major version update?
This week Google told us crowdsourced traffic data was now available in the native Android app. This is a hot new feature that other dedicated GPS applications are offering, but why is Google adding it now? Do they plan to compete directly with the likes of Waze and others?
The only feature keeping Google Maps from becoming a full fledged navigational GPS is vocal turn-by-turn directions. And honestly, what is to keep Google from releasing their own driving software? Donut is already reported to feature an improved speech engine.
Google will be hosting a series of webcasts for analysts that start on September 9th, the day before Motorola’s event. The focus is on search and monetization and how to increase profits from their Android operating system. Location based advertising is expected to be their next cash cow and Android’s success is crucial. What better way to move a ton of add units than to launch their own GPS app with voice directions?
Call me crazy but can you imagine a free GPS software that features crowdsourced data, voice directions, and Google Street View? It is important to note that the crowdsourced traffic data is not available on iPhone and this could be a major advantage for Android.
2. Is official multi-touch coming to Android 2.0?
We might never know the real story behind the lack of multi-touch in Android 1.0, but it has since been offered on new phones like the HTC Hero. This was a special addition by HTC just for the Hero, but it looks like official support from Google is not far behind.
Code drops into the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) have revealed new code that is meant for multi-touch. To my knowledge it is not being offered in Donut, but I expect we will see it in Eclair. I’ve reported several times that Sholes will feature multi-touch and ship with Eclair.
I guess the question would be: Is multi-touch a Motorola specific feature or part of the official Android operating system? Why would multi-touch code be appearing in the official AOSP tree unless it was meant for official Android builds? I think I know the answer, but I’ll let you decide.
Conclusion of Part 1
Stay tuned for the rest of this week as we continue to preview new possible features for Android 2.0. If you think you have an answer to any of my questions, we would love to hear your feedback.