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In addition to being a delicious frozen treat, Froyo is also the codename for the next major version of Google’s Android mobile operating system. We knew it was going to be fast and feature Flash support, but now, according to TechCrunch, Android users have something else to look forward to: USB tethering, which will let you share your phone’s internet connection with your laptop, and the ability to turn your phone into a wireless hotspot.
Apple introduced tethering for the iPhone 3GS when it launched, but has yet to convince AT&T to make it an option for subscribers (it remains a very popular hack among iPhone users). Meanwhile, many international carriers, like the UK’s O2, have been offering it since last year. It’s a feature that carriers have to approve — since it will lead to vastly increased data usage — and there’s no word if U.S. carriers will allow it on their Android phones, or if they will charge extra (bet on it).
We can rule AT&T out, but carriers with popular Android phones like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile can use the feature to lure users away from the more restrictive iPhone. Some carriers, like Sprint with the upcoming Evo 4G, have come up with their own solutions for sharing net access on Android phones. The promise of wireless hotspot capabilities is already being used by Verizon to sell more Palm devices — the carrier has gone so far as to offer it for free. By building it into the operating system, Google will make it even easier for carriers to offer the feature.
[Image via TechCrunch]
Don’t miss MobileBeat 2010, VentureBeat’s conference on the future of mobile. The theme: “The year of the superphone and who will profit.” Now expanded to two days, MobileBeat 2010 will take place on July 12-13 at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Early-bird pricing is available until May 15. For complete conference details, or to apply for the MobileBeat Startup Competition, click here.