Donut, also known as Android 2.0, made its debut during a keynote speech at the Google I/O conference this week. Android Interface Toolkit Engineer Romain Guy gave attendees a sneak peek at three big advancements in the open source mobile operating system, which will be a part of Android 2.0, codenamed Donut.
Guy showed off "Android Search," a universal search tool that lets users find contact information, applications, songs and more in-phone content in addition to the Web content that's already searchable, Android Authority reported. The Android Search feature is similar to Apple iPhone OS 3.0's "Spotlight" feature and the upcoming Palm Pre's "Universal Search" function. When a user launches the search function using Android 2.0, the most recent and most-frequently searched terms appear in a pre-populated list.
"Every time I click a search result, the system remembers what I did with [it], and the more I use my device, the more it will know about me, about what I do, my common tasks," Guy told Beta News, adding that developers can tie their applications into the search interface and generate results that pertain to users' interests based on prior browsing and their chosen applications.
Second, Guy highlighted a feature complementary to Android's voice recognition capabilities that adds text-to-speech to Google Android. Beta News said Guy illustrated a modified version of the Translate application, which can speak translated text in an appropriate accent. The API will also come with a new open-source text-to-speech engine and will ship with voice packs for different languages.
Lastly, Guy demonstrated a gesture feature that can recognize handwriting. For example, in the contact list, a user can jump to a letter by drawing it on the touch-screen. A similar feature can be used in the device's music library, I4U News reported.
While Guy did not provide insight into when Google will dunk with Donut, he said Android 2.0 will pack in a host of other new features when it is released. The blogosphere is buzzing with word that Donut will hit sometime in August.
"We care about the user experience, but we also care about the developer experience, and we hope that with those new APIs that we are introducing in Donut -- there will be more -- you are going to come up with awesome applications that will make Android a more exciting platform," Guy told Beta News.
The early look at Android 2.0 comes as Google still readies the launch of Android 1.5, codenamed Cupcake. The Cupcake update was originally supposed to hit Android devices such as the T-Mobile G1 this month, but it has been delayed until at least June, Google has said.
Cupcake is expected to add a host of new features and functions to Android, including a refined user interface, animated window transitions and an accelerometer for application rotation. The user interface will also be updated to improve in-call experience, MMS and SMS messaging, the browser, Gmail, calendar, camera and gallery and application management.
In addition, Google Android will boost performance with Android 1.5, offering faster camera startup and image capture; faster acquisition of GPS location; smoother browser scrolling and faster Gmail conversation scrolling.
And on the application front, Android 1.5 will let users view Google Talk friends' status in contacts, SMS, MMS, Gmail and e-mail applications; batch actions like archive, delete and label in Gmail messages; upload videos to YouTube and upload photos to Picasa.
Other updates in Android 1.5 include Live Folders, which lets users look over media saved on their T-Mobile G1 without having to open and scroll through each application, and the ability to set the phone to click or vibrate while typing.
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