Android This Week: Donut Arrives; Developers Alliance Formed

gigaom_icon_google-android1There was a lot of activity in the Android world this week. We got our hands on the latest Android phone, the HTC Hero, and it’s looking pretty darn nice. The Hero is coming soon to the Sprint network in the United States, and while it’s been available outside the U.S. for a while, the hardware has been changed for this version, most noticeably the removal of the “chin” found on the G1. A video of the Hero that demonstrates the HTC Sense interface as it runs on top of Android is available at jkOnTheRun.

Meanwhile, the next version of the Android OS, dubbed Donut, is beginning to roll out in the U.S. The update is being pushed to phones in a tiered fashion, to minimize the impact on T-Mobile’s servers. G1 owners are starting to see the update first, with myTouch 3G users to follow shortly. Donut incorporates quite a few tweaks to Android and is a solid evolution of the platform, including better VPN support and camera control.

Plus, Google got in a wrestling match with the open-source developer community when it demanded that Steve Kondik, a prominent developer, “cease and desist” producing special versions of the Android OS. The developer, who’s known as Cyanogen, creates builds of Android that contain special features, and Google took offense at the inclusion of proprietary apps such as Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube. Android has been championed from its inception as an open-source platform, and developers reacted swiftly to Google’s demands. The Open Android Alliance was formed, with a mandate to create open-source alternatives to the Google apps mentioned. This would allow versions of Android to be created that could be freely distributed.

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