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Google unveils Android 2.0

Jun 3, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Google demonstrated an early version of Android 2.0, codenamed “Donut,” at the Google I/O developer conference, and handed out free unlocked Android Dev Phones (pictured), says eWEEK. Android 2.0 adds integrated local and web search, handwriting gesture UI, Google Translate, and text-to-speech features, says the story.

The demo of Android 2.0, which is due to be available for download in some form in three to six months, occurred at last week's Google I/O developer conference, says the report by Darryl Taft in eWEEK. In addition, Google provided new, unlocked Android handsets, presumably its Dev Phone version of the HTC G1 (pictured at top), free of charge to all attendees, says the story. Earlier in the conference, Google announced that it expected 18 to 20 Android phones to ship this year.

As noted by Taft, the Android project seems to have adopted an alphabetical pastry theme, as Android 1.5 was called “Cupcake,” and some sources say the follow-on to Donut will be codenamed “Eclair,” writes Taft. (As for the original “Android” itself, one can only imagine it to be a very crunchy pastry indeed.)

“Donut” adds a universal search feature that can hunt through contacts, calendars, music, and other content simultaneously, both locally on the device and online, says eWEEK. New text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities are provided via an API that provides access to Google Voice Search to find information, says the story. Other new features are said to include the porting of the Google Translate translation service to Android phones, as well as a “handwriting gestures” capability.

According to Taft, the demo was well-received, but did not exactly wow the audience. One developer was quoted as saying he expected that Google was holding back on some other major features in “Donut.”

The story also quotes a mobile app developer named Nathan Freitas, who previously headed up Java development at Palm, as saying that the enhanced search features were already available via app add-ons. As for the handwriting feature, which apparently is not very advanced at this point, he was quoted as saying “I hope it is more 'gestures' than handwriting … speaking as an Apple Newton owner and former Palm employee. I am not eager to have to deal with that world again.”

SVOX speech tools coming to Android

Last week, Zurich, Switzerland-based SVOX announced that it has joined the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), and will provide technology that would enable speech user interfaces on Android. Although it was not explicitly stated, the SVOX technology (see diagram below) appears to be related to the “Donut” text-to-speech API.

SVOX architecture

SVOX is contributing its “speech output solution,” called the SVOX Pico TTS engine, to OHA. The Android version of SVOX Pico is said to include six language packages, including U.S. and U.K. English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian. The product also includes tools that can be used to create new languages and voices, says the company.

Stated SVOX CEO Martin Reber, “SVOX is committed to bringing high quality speech to the mobile market, with first-class support and integration services. This is the first step in our mission to bring natural-language technology to the Android community.”


Android 2.0 should be available later this year, says Google. The eWEEK story on Google's “Donut” demo may be found here.

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