Motorola lifted the curtain on its new Android phone, the Droid X, today, during a joint press conference with Verizon. While the device will come with Android 2.1, the newest version, Android 2.2, codenamed “FroYo,” will be available for over-the-air updates by the end of the summer.
Google just published the source code for FroYo today via the public Android open source project. The search giant usually waits until its development partners have come out with products built on top of its newest versions of Android before issuing source code, and this situation is no different — Motorola is considered a development partner in this instance.
FroYo comes with a number of improvements from 2.1, including greater speed, native internet tethering and Twitter integration, an application manager, a home screen tips widget for newbies who want to become power users, a new camera and galley interface, multiple keyboard languages, and advanced tools for developers.
After FroYo was announced at the Google I/O developers conference in May, most people thought it wouldn’t be available until halfway through the summer. So its release today came as somewhat of a surprise. It’s unclear whether the announcement was planned to sync up with Motorola’s announcement.
The Droid X seems to have impressed critics today with its large 4.3-inch touchscreen (845 x 480 pixels resolution), and Flash compatibility. Adobe says that Flash 10.1 will be available for the Droid X around the same time as the FroYo update. By comparison, the iPhone 4 won’t have Flash and has only a 3.5 inch display.
The Droid X is also a big step up from the original Droid released last year. Not only is it faster, but it boasts an 8 megapixel camera, instead of 5. It does, however, lack the dual camera that will allow iPhone 4 users to video conference with one another via their handsets.
Like HTC’s Evo 4G, the Droid X will support Wi-Fi tethering for $20 a month plus data fees. It will cost $199.99 to buy after the rebate you get with a two-year Verizon contract. Like AT&T did for the iPhone, the carrier is allowing early upgrades to its customers who have contracts that are nearing expiration.
Droid X will be the 11th Android smartphone that Motorola has launched, but it’s also the most important to its long-term strategy. Based on the success of the first Droid product, this is the phone that is meant to go head to head with the iPhone 4 and the Evo.
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. Register now. Tickets are going quickly. For complete conference details, or to apply for the MobileBeat Startup Competition, click here.