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First Google Android 2.0 phone arrives

The new version of the Google Android operating system adds new features to devices and improves performance.

Initial response to the new Motorola Droid smartphone on the Verizon Wireless network have been very good, thanks in large part to the updated Android 2.0 operating system.

A look at how multiple accounts are handled in the contact list of an Android 2.0 phone. Google

The new updated version of the open-source operating system offers new Android phones a series of enhancements as well as improved performance. The updated software is being credited with enabling many of the cool new features, such as the updated version of the Google Maps service, which allows for voice command turn-by-turn directions.

The Motorola Droid for Verizon will be the first device that will use the new software. Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA will also be selling Android devices this holiday season, but neither carrier has announced a device that will use the updated version of the operating system.

But that doesn't mean that the Droid will be the only device running the 2.0 software this year. A Google representative said it's very likely at least one other phone will be introduced that uses the new version of the open source operating system.

One of the features that the updated software has added allows for the integration of multiple social-networking and e-mail accounts into the phone's contact list. This means that contact and calendar information can be synced with Microsoft Exchange e-mail services and also other Web e-mail accounts, as well as, social-networking sites like Facebook.

The new version of the software has support for Microsoft Exchange, which is a huge deal because it means that corporate users can sync their work e-mail with their phones. A search function was added to the SMS and MMS messaging feature. The software has also been updated to support a camera that includes a built-in flash, digital zoom, scene mode, white balance, color effect, and macro focus.

A look at a user's combined email on the updated Android 2.0 operating system. Google

The new software has also improved the virtual keyboard layout to make it easier to hit the right keys as well as improved the typing speed. The 2.0 version of software supports an enhanced browser that allows users to directly tap the address bar for instant searches and navigation. It allows bookmarks with Web page thumbnails. It offers double-tap zoom. And there is full HTML5 support, which among other things allows for geolocation applications to be developed to provide location information about the device.

Overall the new improvements to the software should make the Android devices operate much faster than the previous generation of software. A Google representative said the software is backwards compatible with older versions of Google Android hardware. But it is up the carriers whether or not they allow users to upgrade their devices to the new operating system. And the carriers will be controlling the timing of these upgrades.

As for the new Android devices coming from Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, they won't likely immediately have the Android 2.0 operating system, but it's likely these devices, along with new Android phones will come with the new version of the OS.

A Sprint representative said that traditionally the company pushes out or allows users to upgrade software when it's made available.

T-Mobile, which was the first carrier to offer an Android phone, will have four Google Android phones available for the holidays. Two are available today: the original T-Mobile G1, which launched in October of last year, and the T-Mobile myTouch 3G, which went on sale this summer and is available now for $149.99. T-Mobile is adding two more devices to line-up in time for the holidays: the Motorola Cliq which goes on sale November 2, and the Samsung Behold II, which does not yet have a launch date but will be available before Christmas.

As of November 1, Sprint will have two Android-powered devices as part of its lineup: the HTC Hero and the Samsung Moment, which costs $180 with a $50 mail-in rebate and a two-year Sprint contract.