Smartphone Snafu: Moto Backtracks on Droid Update

There are a few red faces at Motorola today as the company has had to retract its previously reported release of Android 2.1 for the popular Droid phone. The company made a proclamation on Facebook that version 2.1 would come this week, but that plan is on hold for now.

Droid shipped with the Android 2.0 operating system, and has since had an upgrade to 2.0.1. The upgrade to 2.1 -- which is already available on the Google Nexus One phone -- offers a few big improvements and a lot of little fixes under the hood. Not surprisingly, the update has been eagerly anticipated by the Droid community.

However, after the Facebook posting, an unfortunate Motorola (NYSE: MOT) forums manager named Matt had to inform Droid users that "The details posted here and on the Support site were prematurely released for public view."

Android 2.1, codenamed "Éclair," offers enhancements like animated wallpapers; support for HTML5 video, support for voice recognition and audio triggers, and APIs that recognize and adjust to changes in wireless signal strength. It also includes new APIs for WebKit relating to Web storage databases and geolocation, and improved browser settings, such as better video handling.

It's unclear how many of those features Motorola planned to support in the Droid, which in the U.S. is offered through its exclusive carrier partner Verizon Wireless. Motorola was also expected to enhance the Droid's virtual keyboard with version 2.1 and upgrade the music playback app along with several other apps on the phone. It's also believed the new kernel will offer better battery life.

A spokesperson for Motorola declined to comment on when the update might eventually ship.

"The Droid over-the-air software upgrade is expected to roll out soon. It will automatically be pushed to phones when ready and Verizon Wireless customers will only have to accept the free download for continued use and enjoyment of this feature packed device," she said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

Earlier this week, Motorola sent out an upgrade to Droid owners for the Google Maps application, enabling "pinch-to-zoom" capability. The full 2.1 OS upgrade will have that for all apps, according to widespread reports.

Motorola introduced the Droid to much hoopla in October. At the launch, Motorola hailed the phone as running the most advanced Android smartphone software on the market. Very quickly, however, it was surpassed in January by Google with the HTC-designed Nexus One running Android 2.1.

Still, while attention is focused on Motorola's plans for the Droid, it may also be gearing up for a separate launch. Mobile phone blog Boy Genius Report claimed that the Motorola Devour will launch on March 15 at a price point of about $99. Motorola had previously promoted the sleek new Android phone in a Super Bowl commercial featuring actress Megan Fox.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Google, Android, Droid, Motorola, upgrade