Google held it’s annual I/O developer event this past week and outlined plans for Android, but key news took place even after the conference ended. Tuesday’s keynote at Google I/O focused solely on the mobile platform with many of the developments predicted in advance.
Google is now seeing 400,000 device activations each day, with a cumulative total of 100 million Android smartphones and tablets that have downloaded 4.5 billion apps from the Market. To continue that momentum, Google is looking to improved its mobile platform. Honeycomb gains an update to version 3.1 with support for USB devices, widgets that can be resized, and a scrolling list of recent apps for better usability.
Motorola Xoom owners on Verizon’s network are the first to see Honeycomb 3.1, with other devices to follow in the coming weeks. Some of those may be 7-inch slates, such as Acer’s A100 or the expected ViewPad 7x from ViewSonic. The tablet operating system may see additional improvements throughout the year, but it’s likely that the next big update will be Ice Cream Sandwich. Expected in the fourth quarter of 2011, this is the version that will bring tablet features to smartphones and unify the Android platform.
Two days after Google outlined improvements for Android, Netflix finally launched in the Market; but not for all handsets. Only five devices are initially supported by the video streaming software: HTC’s Incredible, Nexus One, Evo 4G, G2 and Samsung’s Nexus S can install and use Netflix for now, with more to follow. My testing of the device showed Netflix to work well on the Android platform, and it made me appreciate the Nexus One handset that I had been thinking of replacing.
One of the many contenders to succeed my Nexus One is the Samsung Infuse 4G, which launches on AT&T’s network May 15. Although the handset uses a single-core processor — many new phones are starting to use dual-core CPUs — the performance of the Infuse is reasonably good. Even more impressive is the Super AMOLED Plus display, which provides vivid colors that seem to pop off the screen as you can see in this short video.
As nice as the Infuse 4G looks, I’m adding the HTC Sensation 4G to my “watch list” as well. A promotional video released this week for the upcoming handset shows a highly capable, multimedia powerhouse that’s sure to appeal.