Google’s Android mobile operating system has established itself as a solid platform for mobile devices and is gaining acceptance by both users and mobile service providers. The latest SDK, codenamed ‘Donut’ (did they codename it based on what they were eating at the time?) delivers a variety of enhancements including one that expands the potential market for Android exponentially.
The ‘Donut’ SDK, version 1.6 of the Linux-based Android operating system, introduces a number of features that will enable Android-based devices to provide the functionality that users want. The improved search feature, multi-lingual text-to-speech function (dubbed Pico), and zippier camera speeds will be welcome.
Lets take a quick look at how Android ‘Donut’ will benefit users, developers, and mobile device manufacturers.
Users: The expanded support for higher screen resolutions is arguably the standout feature from a user perspective. It would have been of particular benefit to Motorola as it developed the Cliq.
The current Android devices, including the Cliq, default to 320 x 480 pixels. Android ‘Donut’ supports QVGA and WVGA standards, allowing resolutions up to 850 x 480 pixels. We can expect that future evolutions of the Cliq (and other Android devices) will include a larger display.
The battery usage screen is a cool touch as well. Rather than just an icon of a battery with some lines on it indicating how much charge is left, the Android ‘Donut’ battery meter screen actually displays which apps are running and how much power they are pulling so the user can shut down power-hogs to conserve energy and the battery life between charges.
Developers: The new Android Market provides a more robust platform for developers to create and distribute applications. Developers can include screenshots and descriptions to help promote applications. More importantly, the Android Market store allows users to browse apps based on most recent additions, top free apps, or top paid apps.
App stores are all the rage for mobile operating system platforms. All of these enhancements create a better experience for Android Market customers and provide a more effective outlet for Android developers to distribute their apps.
Device Manufacturers: CDMA baby! Android ‘Donut’ expands the market potential for Android-based devices exponentially by adding support for CDMA (Code Division Multiplexing Access) networks.
Android devices have been well-received and proven to be quite capable with providers like T-Mobile, but the market has been limited by the lack of CDMA. With Android 1.6, the potential market broadens to include Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon- the leading mobile service provider in the United States.
‘Donut’ could be a game changer for the Android operating system. The collection of features will impress users, the improved app distribution will attract developers, and the addition of CDMA will provide device manufacturers with more incentive to create Android-based devices.
With profit margins that are typically razor-thin to begin with, an open source mobile operating system platform that can deliver features and performance on par with more expensive, commercial platforms is a win-win-win for all parties.