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Google unveils latest version of Android phones

May 20, 2010 |  9:34 am

Google Inc. said the latest versions of its Android phones will run faster, have more advanced capabilities and serve as Wi-Fi hotspots for other devices.

The Internet giant made the comments Thursday at its San Francisco developers conference, where it touted the fast adoption of smartphones powered by its software.

Google said it has surpassed 100,000 activations a day of Android-powered phones, up from 60,000 units a day in February. Android phones are in 48 countries and are available on 59 carriers.

Android ranks first in total Web and applications usage, according to data from AdMob, said Google vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra. And Android phones rank second in U.S. smartphone sales this quarter, second to RIM's BlackBerry, according to NPD.

"If you believe in openness, choice and innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android," Gundotra said.

Gundotra introduced the latest version of Android, known as "Froyo." Froyo has a "tethering" feature that means Android smartphones can connect other devices to the Internet, even those without a connection. "How about that iPad?" Gundotra said in just one of several swipes at Silicon Valley rival Apple.

Gundotra also said Google is extending its tools that help advertisers target consumers with relevant ads and measure their response to them to mobile phones. One new tool is an ad that expands when consumers click on it. The format includes a number of new capabilities including click to call, get directions, buy tickets or play rich media.

Gundotra opened the keynote address by recalling his first day at Google. Andy Rubin, the Google executive behind Android, described his team's mission and purpose. Skeptical, Gundotra asked Rubin why the world needed another operating system.

Rubin told him that operating systems should be open so they can be built into all devices, forcing carriers to compete on the strength of their network. If Google did not create such an open system, Gundotra said, Rubin envisioned a future in which the industry would be controlled by one man, one device and one carrier.

-- Jessica Guynn 

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