Android 2.2 lays down the gauntlet, includes WiFi tethering


So the iPhone might finally get USB and Bluetooth tethering next month, huh? Well it may turn out to be too little and too late.

At its IO Conference today in San Francisco, Google announced Android 2.2 (code named “Froyo”), and as expected, the new version of its mobile OS includes Wi-Fi tethering — something previously available only on PalmOS phones (like the Pre+) and on rooted Android devices. They even demo’d a Wi-Fi iPad connected to it.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the iPad could tether to an Android device but not to an iPhone? Actually no, it would be sad.

No word on if and how carriers may charge for tethering on Android, but unlike the current iteration on the Pre+, an additional charge appears likely. In addition to Wi-Fi tethering, Android 2.2 also includes USB tethering, which is faster than Wi-Fi.

And that’s not all. Android 2.2 also includes a rash of other new features, including:

  • Adobe Flash 10.1
  • apps on microSD
  • a JIT compiler
  • faster V8 javascript engine
  • (optional) automatic app updates
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • a new one-handed camera UI
  • revamped Google voice search, and
  • desktop to handset music streaming

I hope Cupertino is paying close attention. Customers won’t accept a substandard mobile OS forever. I hope that Apple has some tricks up its sleeves for WWDC on June 7, or iPhone OS 4 is bound to be a disappointment.

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