Android This Week: Angry Birds, Opera Mobile Coming

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Android phone owners got some game-loving news this week as the full version of Angry Birds was released. The release was unusual in that the app is free, as GetJar has a unique ad-supported distribution model in place. Rovio Mobile’s decision to give an exclusive deal for Angry Birds to GetJar was also out of the ordinary, as it means the hottest game in town will not be available from the Android Market. Google must be hoping this doesn’t start a trend, as it cuts out the 30 percent royalty Google normally takes from each app sale.

Opera Mobile will be coming to the Android platform in a few weeks, as announced by the company this week. Opera Mobile brings the desktop browsing experience to the smartphone better than previous versions of the browser. This new browser will take advantage of the hardware capabilities found in current smartphones, and implement a pinch/ zoom interface that rivals that in competing browsers.

The number of apps in the Android Market is growing rapidly, and the openness of the platform opens up the door for utility apps that improve the user experience. Keyboard apps fall in that category, and as many Android phones rely on onscreen keyboards developers have stepped up and produced quite a few of them. A keyboard app that may have more features than the others is Ultra Keyboard, as demonstrated in our video review. The app offers multiple keyboard layouts, multiple input methods and can translate text into a number of languages.

Kevin noted that handset makers are going to be offering Android-based smartphones in India soon, anticipating another half-billion new Android users as a result. In addition, some of the smartphones in India may be from brands unfamiliar to U.S. users; Indian companies Spice Mobility, Olive Telecom and Micromax are expected to be offering Android phones as well.

GigaOM had a cool infographic this week showing the steady progress of Android’s march toward market dominance that’s worth a look.

Gingerbread is next up on the Android dessert menu, and from the looks of it, most Android users have managed to upgrade to either Eclair or Froyo versions. Kevin took a look at Android Market data provided by Google’s dashboard service, and found that nearly three-quarters of Android users are using Android version 2.1 or above. Let’s hope more users are able to upgrade to Froyo before Gingerbread is out of the oven.

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