Android This Week: 18-20 Phones Expected, Upgrade Concerns Sparked, Cupcake Rollout Started

android-logo1Android anticipation continued to pick up steam this week, fueled in part by Google executive Andy Rubin’s proclamation that 18-20 smartphones based on the OS would be released later this year, by some 8-9 different manufacturers. Rubin also shed light on how the OEMs must sign an agreement with the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), the consortium behind Android, to include Google software such as Gmail on their devices.

Smartphone king HTC, maker of the T-Mobile G1, is hard at work on other handsets based on the Google juice, including versions of the HTC Magic that will include Microsoft Exchange support. The Exchange client is part of what one HTC executive called the company’s own “special sauce.” We fear, however, that such a mixture might lead to Android upgrade difficulties down the road if Google and the OHA don’t take steps to avoid them.

And this week saw T-Mobile G1 customers start receiving Android 1.5, aka Cupcake. Reviews of the new version, the over-the-air rollout of which had been briefly delayed, have been favorable so far. Android 1.5 adds video recording and an on-screen keyboard, the latter being especially important as handsets without physical keyboards, like the HTC Magic, are expected to increasingly start to appear.

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