Will Google's Android 2 be a smart-phone spoiler?

The release of the Motorola Droid by Verizon Wireless has many reviewers touting it as the biggest threat yet to the popular Apple iPhone. Many observers also believe that the once written-off Android could outsell devices based on the BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows Mobile and Palm Pre platforms.

Could Google's Android be a spoiler in the smart-phone arms race after all?

Next week's release of the Motorola Droid by Verizon Wireless has many reviewers touting it as the biggest threat yet to the popular Apple iPhone. Many observers also believe that the once written-off Android could outsell devices based on the BlackBerry, Microsoft Windows Mobile and Palm Pre platforms.

The Motorola Droid is the first mobile device based on Android 2, meaning if it is well-received by developers and customers, other devices based on Google's new mobile platform could follow. According to Google, the new Android release should appeal to developers thanks to new application programming interfaces that make it easier to sync to other applications and offer improved user interfaces.

"We think Android will be the clear No. 2 and possibly No. 1 here over the next few years," said Scott Schwarzhoff, vice president of marketing at Appcelerator, which is developing a tool called Titanium that allows Web developers using JavaScript to build applications that can natively run on mobile devices.

The first two platforms Titanium will support are the Apple iPhone and Android, Schwarzhoff said. Plans call for supporting the BlackBerry and Pre, but, as for Microsoft's Windows Mobile, the company will wait out the current 6.5 release and see what's new in Windows Mobile 7, he said.

Schwarzhoff and other analysts and observers believe Android may suddenly become a major contender because of the number of hardware vendors that are supporting the platform including Motorola, Samsung, Sony, HTC and others. Many of the hardware vendors have decided to give Android a shot, thanks to uncertainty with Microsoft's Windows Mobile 7 platform.

Unlike the iPhone, Palm Pre and BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Android are the two platforms that will allow for different solutions from more than one hardware provider.

Among the new developer interfaces in Android 2 are a new account manager API that makes it easier for programmers to sync with multiple accounts, and a Bluetooth 2.1 API that makes it easier to discover other devices and establish peer-to-peer communications.

Android 2 offers improvements to accounts management contacts and synchronization via an account manager API that lets developers centrally handle account credential information for a device. Also, the new Android UI tookkit lets developers build a single binary to support hardware with various screen sizes and resolutions, according to Google.

The new graphics architecture will offer better performance and the ability to provide better hardware acceleration, Google added. A complete rundown of the new platform and API is available on Google's Android developers' blog.

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