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Android 2.2 to integrate USB tethering, mobile hot spots

With less than a week to go before Android 2.2 is unveiled, the list of new features continues to grow. The latest bit of information to arrive tells us that Froyo will have Wi-Fi mobile hots pots and USB-tethering built right into the platform.

TechCrunch is reporting today that Android 2.2 "Froyo" will feature built-in USB tethering and Wi-Fi hot-spot capability. This is exciting news for Android users as it could potentially provide all phones with one of the great selling features of the forthcoming HTC Evo 4G from Sprint.

For those unfamiliar, mobile hot spots allow users to share their Internet connection with other devices such as laptops and portable gaming consoles. USB tethering is also rising in popularity, as many Android owners want to share their 3G connections with a Netbook while on the go.

Android 2.2 Options Techcrunch

As carriers begin rolling out newer, faster technologies, interest in tethering and mobile hot spots will continue to increase. It's not known whether this new Wi-Fi/hot-spot feature is something that could be disabled by carriers.

That said, I can't imagine too many wireless providers getting excited over this unless they have the ability control it. AT&T opted to disable the option to download and install applications from outside of the Android Market with their Motorola Backflip. It would not surprise me in the least to see carriers want to restrict this on their handsets if at all possible.

As we learned Wednesday, Sprint will be charging an extra $29.99 a month for mobile hot-spot service on the Evo 4G when it goes on sale next month. Imagine the revenue that would be lost if Google circumvents Sprint and makes this a standard feature of Android. Yes, Android scores big in the public eye, but it doesn't do much to help the relationships built within the Open Handset Alliance.

Assuming carriers are able to control this aspect, it's still another wonderful feature in an already robust operating system. With this, Flash integration, and other new options, Froyo is turning out to be quite a step up from Eclair.

With less than a week to go before Android 2.2 is unveiled at Google I/O, I have to wonder if there are any other surprises in store.