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Will Google's Android 2 Be A Mobile Spoiler?

Could Google's Android be a spoiler in the smart-phone arms race after all?

The impending release of the Motorola Droid by Verizon Wireless has many reviewers touting it as the biggest threat yet to the popular Apple iPhone. Many observers also believe that the once written-off Android could outsell devices based on the Blackberry, Microsoft Windows Mobile, and Palm Pre platforms.

The Motorola Droid is the first mobile device based on Android 2, which implies that if it's well received by developers and customers, other devices based on Google's new moble platform will be sought after as well. According to Google, the new Android release should appeal to developers thanks to new APIs that make it easier to synch to other applications and offer improved user interfaces.

"We think Android will be the clear number two and possibly number one here over the next few years," said Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, which is developing a tool called Titanium that allows Web developers using JavaScript to build applications that can natively run on mobile devices.

The first two platforms Titanium will support are the Apple iPhone and Android, Schwarzhoff said. Plans in the future call for supporting the Blackberry and Pre, but, as for Microsoft's Windows Mobile, the company said it will wait out the current 6.5 release and see what's new in Windows Mobile 7, he said.

Schwarzhoff and other analysts and observers said they believe Android may suddenly become a major contender because of the number of hardware vendors that are supporting the platform, including Motorola, Samsung, Sony, HTC, and others. Many of the hardware vendors have decided to give Android a shot, thanks to uncertainty with Microsoft's Windows Mobile 7 platform.

Unlike the iPhone, Palm Pre, and Blackberry, Windows Mobile and Android are the two platforms that will allow for different solutions from more than one hardware provider.

Among the new developer interfaces in Android 2 are a new account manager API that makes it easier for programmers to synch with multiple accounts and a Bluetooth 2.1 API that makes it easier to discover other devices and establish peer-to-peer communications.

Android 2 offers improvements to accounts management contacts and synchronization via an account manager API that lets developers centrally handle account credential information for a device. Also the new Android UI took kit lets developers build a single binary to support hardware with various screen sizes and resolutions, according to Google.

The new graphics architecture will offer better performance and the ability to provide better hardware acceleration, Google added. A complete rundown of the new platform and API is available on Google's Android developers' blog.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is executive editor, features, for Redmond Developer News. You can contact him at [email protected].

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