Things just keep getting better and
better for Google's Android operating system. We found out earlier
this week that Android
surpassed Apple for second place in smartphone operating systems
in the U.S. market.
Today, we learn courtesy
of TechCrunch that the next OS update, Android 2.2
(Froyo), will support native tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot
capabilities. What is unclear, however, is how these features will be
implemented with different device carriers.
For example, Apple's iPhone 3G and 3GS
support native USB and Bluetooth tethering. However, AT&T
disables these features in the U.S. due to the fragility of its 3G
network. Tethering can, however, be re-enabled on the iPhone via
jailbreaking and performing
a few hacks, or by installing an "unauthorized"
application like MyWi.
It seems unlikely that most carriers
would simply give away the ability to tether freely with their
smartphones -- Verizon may
be the exception with the Palm Pre and Pixi+ because the carrier
is basically giving away the smartphones due
to a stockpile of inventory.
In addition, Sprint is charging
$29.99 for Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities (provides sharing for up to
8 devices) on its upcoming
HTC EVO 4G Android 2.1 smartphone.
While it would be amazing if Android
carriers would break the shackles and allow free tethering and Wi-Fi
hotspots with their "unlimited" data plans -- in the same
way they allow Google
Voice -- we're not holding out breath either.
In addition to the tethering options,
Android 2.2 is supposed to bring some welcome speed improvements as
well. Android 2.2 is reportedly up to 450
percent faster than Android 2.1 in some operations thanks to a
new and improved just-in-time (JIT) compiler.