In the first keynote at Google’s I/O conference Google has given folks a sneak peek at “Donut”, the codename for what will eventually be released as Android 2.0. Although it’s still early days development wise, Google has managed to whet our appetites with a number of Donut’s new features including universal search and a text-to-speech API.
The universal search feature, simply called “Android Search”, will let you search locally through contacts, calendars, music, and any app with the proper code, and includes the ability to expand your search online at the touch of a button. While the Palm Pre will include local/online search as well, this is one up on the current iPhone 3.0 software, which only searches through local files.
Although Google’s own Android widgets have had text-to-speech for a while now, Google will open up the text-to-speech APIs to all, allowing third part developers to use Google’s Voice Search in any application or online. Google is claiming the text-to-speech capabilities will be function with a variety of voices and accents.
I/O attendees also got a brief glimpse of an upcoming handwriting gesture feature that will allow will allow searching through a list by drawing a letter on the touchscreen. Drawing the letter “e”, for example, will bring up a contact list or track list of songs starting with that letter.
At the conference Google/Android’s Andy Rubin said that Google expects at least 18-20 Android phones to be released this year from eight or nine manufacturers. Those numbers probably won’t be seen in the US market for a while though, where custom Android builds sought by carriers are expected to limit the number of releases. But it’s an impressive number nonetheless.
Google is also expected to open up a few other new API’s with Donut and is sure to add more features before Donut’s release. That’s expected to be around August – also when HTC’s new line of Gphones are due to arrive. It’s all enough to have Homer Simpson salivating. Mmmmmm Donut.