Like everyone I like good news, so this week has been a double wammy of smiles in the phone area for me. Firstly is the announcement of Android 2.0 (code names Eclair).. Ok, so the version wasn't announced this week, but the official video was released which demonstrates some of the major new features that the Android team have added to the mobile OS.
The video probably doesn't do the update as much justice as it could be worth. The bluetooth API alone is something I've been really missing with my Android and wasn't expecting to get it so quickly, and they've kept it open for some really innovative app developers to use in very imaginative ways... Imagine a game of virtual ping-pong between two devices where you use the phone as a kind of bat, or a form of two player curve ball. Although for now, just being able to send files and data over bluetooth would cover a very important missing device feature.
The multiple accounts with sync support is a big deal too. I can see an amazing array of uses including an outstanding integration with Neetrix. I'm looking forward to seeing just how far that new area has been pushed.
Google haven't stopped there either... for "with Google" devices (these are devices that include Google apps such as Google Maps, Market place etc) there have been a number of big updates.
The second piece of good news was that this update is coming to the HTC Hero!! This means, arguably, the best phone currently on the market is going to get a voice recognition, text to speech support as well as the bluetooth updates as above, plus updates to the Google apps like the following amazing update to Google Maps allowing for Navigation by natural voice.
This is a really impressive navigation system simply because of the monolithic amount of information Google holds on what seems like everyone and everything. Who could possibly fault the satellite view, or the street view to aid with turns and destination? Potentially very useful indeed.
Slightly less to smile about was Garmin and TomTom stocks plummeting when the news of Google's new Navigation update was announced. However I think this is pre-emptive, as the really important point missed here is that Google Maps is a cloud application. That means it requires an internet connection in order to send and receive the data it needs. Possibly not the same in the US as it is in the UK, but I can't imagine it could be that different, where mobile network provide far from 100% coverage, and its more than likely you won't have the coverage just as you need it the most. What is the point in a navigation application that could suddenly just stop feeding directions as soon as you start leaving towns or hit a grey or black area? Sounds risky to me, and it's going to be sometime before the mobile networks improve their network coverage to such a level that you could totally rely on them for a fully connected application like this.
I'm excited to try this out, but I've no regrets with the Copilot Live I already have on my Android HTC Hero!
UPDATE: It is infact Android 2.1 that will be coming to the HTC Hero. Even more to look forward to!