Thursday, May 12, 2011
100 million devices on Android
Google kicked off its annual I/O conference last night with some headline stats about the growth of its Android platform.
100 million Android devices have now been activated, with another 400,000 being activated every day. There are now 200,000 free and paid apps available in the Android Market store, which has generated more than 4.5 billion downloads so far.
Google's Android product management director Hugo Barra revealed the figures in a blog post published shortly after they were announced at I/O. He also revealed that there are now more than 310 individual Android devices available to buy.
So what's new with Android? Google talked about the next version of the OS, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich. "Our goal with Ice Cream Sandwich is to deliver one operating system that works everywhere, regardless of device," writes Barra. That means it will run across Android smartphones and tablets, in the same way that Apple's iOS 4.2 did for iPhone and iPad.
Android smartphone owners will get features including holographic UI, better multi-tasking, a new launcher and richer widgets that have so far been restricted to the Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS on tablets.
One big criticism of Android in recent months has been the time it takes for OS updates to be rolled out by operators and handset makers. As we reported yesterday, only 4% of Android handsets are running the latest smartphone version of the OS, 2.3 Gingerbread.
Google has now taken steps to speed things along though. It has created a 'founding team' of operators and handset makers including Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola and AT&T to banish these update delays.
"We're jointly announcing that new devices from participating partners will receive the latest Android platform upgrades for 18 months after the device is first released, as long as the hardware allows," writes Barra. "And that's just the beginning."
More news at I/O included the launch of movie rentals in the Android Market, with thousands of films available from $1.99 that are watchable on tablets and smartphones, as well as online. The Motorola Xoom tablet on Verizon will be first to get an update to the Android Market client to enable these films to be watched, with other devices following in the coming weeks.