TVB Tech Alert: More Android Features Unveiled

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF.: Google is providing more glimpses at some of the new functions sported by the latest version of Android, the operating system it designed for use in unlicensed devices. At least 20 Android-powered mobile phones are expected to hit the market by the end of the year, reports indicate.

The Android iteration 2.0 dubbed “Donut” features text-to-speech and handwriting recognition capabilities, according to EE Times. It will also translate on-screen text into “one of a handful” of languages, the Times said. Donut builds on Cupcake, version 1.5 of Android, which added an on-screen keyboard, text prediction, a music player, a calendar and home-screen widgets. Cupcake also brought YouTube video and Picasa image uploads, Gmail and talk access, video recording and playback, Bluetooth pairing and more. The system also has a 3D graphics API.

Android is reported to have 4,900 applications and 10 carriers worldwide. Apple’s iPhone, by comparison, has 35,000 applications.

The FCC approved the use of unlicensed devices in broadcast white spaces last November over the strenuous objections of broadcast representatives and wireless mic makers, who have challenged the issue in court. The ruling marked the first time the commission approved radio frequency communications gear to operate without a spectrum license. Incumbent broadcasters are concerned that unlicensed devices can’t be tracked if they cause signal interference. They’ll be allowed to begin operation once the digital transition concludes June 12. ­­-- Deborah D. McAdams