Android 1.6 lands, pulling in new devices and technologies

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Google’s open-source phone operating system Android 1.6 launched today, introducing new features and capabilities. Perhaps most exciting among them is support for different screen sizes and communication platforms. That means you can now run your Android applications across more mobile networks and devices.

The newest update (dubbed “Donut” because Google names its Android updates after pastries) has fresh technologies baked in too. That includes support for new screen resolutions (320 x 240 and 800 x 480), and new application programming interfaces for its telephony and gesture-recognition options.

It also boasts a text-to-speech engine (that can “speak” in different accents) and a quick search box at the top of the home screen that crawls bookmarks, browser history and contacts. These search results are sorted by relevance based on past user behavior, so that the most-used contacts and apps pop up first.

Android 1.6, has also overhauled the camera-based options. Now you can more easily switch between taking still photos and videos. Launching the camera application is also 39 percent faster, and the time needed between photos is 28 percent shorter, developers say.

Responding the feedback that batteries were dying fast and mysteriously, 1.6 includes an advanced battery monitor indicating which apps are consuming the most power. That way users can adjust what they are running in order to conserve battery life if they need to.

Android has also taken the opportunity to revamp its application marketplace, making it easier for users to search for just apps or games. They can also search for the most popular paid, free and recently added applications. And now, just like in the Apple App Store, users can see screenshots of apps in action before they buy or download.

A full list of all the new features included in Android 1.6 can be found here.

Devices running Android 1.6 will become available in October. As always, applications designed for previous versions will also work on the updated system.


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