TVB Tech Alert: Google Previews Android 1.5

Linux-based system could power unlicensed devices
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MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF: Google has released a preview of Android 1.5, the latest version of its Linux-based mobile platform, Ars Technicareports. Android is the operating system designed to power broadband handhelds, including the controversial unlicensed devices approved by the FCC to operate in fallow broadcast TV spectrum.

Ars says the latest version has several improvements and more APIs compared to the original released last year, which was considered incomplete. The update includes an on-screen keyboard, allowing for iPhone-like touch-screen function. It also is said to have text prediction, a music player, a calendar and home-screen widgets. Android 1.5 will allow YouTube uploads, photo uploads to Google’s Picasa, Gmail and talk access, video recording and playback, Bluetooth pairing and more. (Story continues after Sponsored Link.)

The operating system needs to be beefy enough to compete with the iPhone, which so many free user applications as to be customizable for just about anyone. Android devices are in development now, including the GiiNii Movit tablet shown at January’s Consumer Electronics Show and scheduled for a third-quarter market introduction.

Unlicensed devices were green-lighted by the FCC last November over the strenuous objections of broadcast representatives and wireless mic makers, who have challenged the issue in court. The decision marks the first time the commission approved radio frequency communications gear to operate without a spectrum license, meaning individual devices cannot be tracked if they cause interference. Unlicensed devices will be allowed into the TV spectrum after the digital transition concludes in June. ­­-- Deborah D. McAdams