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Google launches Android team in Taiwan, preps “Cupcake”

Mar 13, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Google has launched an Android development team in Taiwan to provide support to Taiwan-based hardware manufacturers, says an industry report. Another story, meanwhile, reports that wireless carrier T-Mobile will release Android's “Cupcake” update for its HTC-manufactured G1 phones in April, adding a… virtual keyboard.

(Click for larger view of HTC Magic)

A brief Digitimes article quoted Chien Lee-feng, president of Google Taiwan, as saying a technical support team has been set up to support “Android-based products, including netbooks and embedded systems.” After CNET picked up the story, however, Google stepped forward to correct the coverage, stating that netbooks are not on Google's radar for the time being. On the other hand, Google did not rule it out, adding to rumor and speculation that has accelerated after Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently hinted that Android netbooks were on the way.

The CNET story ran a statement from Google saying that it had “nothing to announce at this time,” regarding Android netbooks. The story also noted, however, that Android “was designed from the beginning to scale downward to feature phones and upward to MID (mobile Internet devices) and netbook-style devices.” CNET also reported that Google had originally confirmed the Digitimes story, but then clarified to say “it's not working on netbooks at this time.”

Meanwhile, Wind River is hiring new staff for a growing Android support team, says the CNET story. In Wind River's recent yearly earnings call, CEO Ken Klein referred to a Q4 reference design win with a wireless integration services firm, in a Wind River-fueled design that runs Android on a Texas Instruments (TI) ARM Cortex-A8 OMAP3430-based Zoom development board.

The cupcake (and the Magic) cometh

For now, the Linux/Java Android stack appears to be commercially available only on the HTC G1 sold by wireless carrier T-Mobile, but all that should change over the next few months. For starters, Vodafone and HTC are expected to release the second-generation HTC Magic phone in the second quarter.

No, not that cupcake:
Macpod Software's Android-controlled,
cupcake-destroying Forknife 2 robot

(Click for details)

That release may come as early as April, according to a story in Pocket-lint. That story also reports that T-Mobile has confirmed that it will offer the Android project's new “Cupcake” release in April as a firmware update. Considering that the new virtual keyboard is primarily aimed at the keyboard-less HTC Magic, it is reasonable to presume that the Magic would arrive then as well. Indeed, Pocket-lint had earlier reported that April was likely to be the “Magic” due date, according to the story.

Although the Magic will be sold exclusively by Vodafone, according to the carrier, Cupcake will also supercharge the existing G1 sold by T-Mobile. New features include an updated Linux kernel and the latest WebKit browser, which offers the new Squirrelfish Javascript engine, as well as cut-and-paste functionality, says VentureBeat.. The Cupcake release is also said to add stereo Bluetooth support, video and voice recording, and MMS attachment support. Other new features include a page that shows which third-party applications are currently running, as well as a settings dashboard for adjusting animation speed, font size, and button behavior, says VentureBeat.

The same story also reports that Amazon is now offering the G1 at an all-time low of $98, down from its original $400. The deal, however, is said to demand a two-year contract with T-Mobile, costing $40 a month, with stiff penalties attached for breaking the contract.


The Digitimes item on the Taiwan-based Android team may be found here, and the CNET story on the same topic should be here.

The Pocket-lint story on Cupcake may be found here, and the VentureBeat story on the same topic should be here.

Amazon's G1 page should be here.

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