Chris Ziegler writes at Engadget.com that with the upcoming Android Froyo software release, Google will be
decoupling many of Android's standard applications and components from the platform's core and making them downloadable and updatable through the Market, much the same as they've already done with Maps. In all likelihood, this process will take place over two major Android versions, starting with Froyo and continuing through Gingerbread.
This means that Android may get built in a way where software and component updates come from the central software update system controlled by Google, and as long as the hardware follows a certain set of hardware requirements, that manufacturers will not even have to work to update their customized firmwares anymore, but where Google will be taking care of the software releases centrally providing all the different hardware platforms with component, feature and application updates automatically.
This brings us to another important aspect of the fragmentation of Android which I certainly expect to see Google add support for with Froyo:
Which means that Google has to provide a set of customized Google Marketplaces for all those different categories of products.
I see no reason Google wouldn't want to support a market of Android tablets to compete with the iPod Touch and the iPad. Customizing Android for WiFi-only small or large Tablets with or without Cameras, accelerometers, GPS and 3G should be easy. It's just a matter of Google adding a few filters to apps in the Marketplace based on the hardware configurations of each device.
I am convinced Google wants to help provide an Android platform for e-readers to better access the Google Books, Google Reader and Google News, to create a powerful platform for the competition to the Amazon Kindle in e-ink based e-readers. An e-ink based e-reader with Android-powered RSS, Bookmarks sync, e-mail, webkit based web browser, Google Fast-flip, Google Reader Play, Aldiko/FBreader, WiFi and text-input all those apps and components will make e-ink based e-reader much more powerful.
Although Google is coming with Chrome OS, the way I see Chrome OS for ARM, is basically that Google is optimizing the web browser for all ARM based Linux platforms. So there would be no reason not to just include the full Chrome Browser simply as a Web Browser icon inside of Android. What Google needs to customize though in Android is a User Interface adapted for mouse and keyboard input of Laptop form factors instead of touch-screen inputs. The filter for laptops will highlight the best high resolution Android apps.
The core here is to provide Youtube support on set-top-boxes. But also it is to provide apps with optimized user-interfaces to be used on a remote control on the TV. Customized Widgets, user interfaces for overlay Chat, Polls, Debates, all that will work on an optimized software platform like Android. The HDMI-passthrough features recently rumored could make the Android-powered "Google TV" set-top-boxes even more impressive as they would bring in all the interactivity on top of all existing TV tuner platforms, be them any existing Cable, Satellite or DVB-T tuner platforms. So the Android set-top-box not only realizes Video-on-demand, it also improves existing live broadcast television.
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