Raft of announcements including upcoming tablet-smartphone unification

Google I/O hails ‘Android phenomenon’

Google kicked off the firm’s annual I/O developers conference in San Francisco with a keynote address that hailed 100 million Android devices.

Google’s senior vice president of engineering Vic Gundotra took the stage hailing "how much had been achieved", cheekily unveiling a cartoon Android gobbling an Apple, in reference to gains made on the firm’s arch-rival.

Google Android product boss Hugo Barra continued the address, recalling the firm’s T-Mobile G1, the first Android-powered device which was, he said, greeted with skepticism.

Happy to prove the naysayers wrong, Barren hailed the growth of the Android platform as it blasted past the 100 million device milestone, revealing that Google was registering 400,000 new Android devices every day.

Barra highlighted a number of other statistics including the scale of industry support with 36 OEM manufacturers of 310 different models of Android device offered on 215 mobile carriers worldwide.

Android OS upgrades was always going to be a popular subject and Google kicked off by announcing an upgrade of the tablet Honeycomb OS to 3.1 which would begin rolling out to the Motorola Xoom immediately.

Honeycomb 3.1 adds widget resizing and USB host support enabling input from controllers and keyboards and the firm also unveiled a new software framework for hardware interfacing.

Google also lifted the lid on the next major version of Android, codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich, which had the goal of "one operating system that works everywhere, regardless of device." Ice Cream Sandwich will bring the new Android Honeycomb UI to smartphones, also adding ‘more multitasking’, a new home screen launcher and ‘richer widgets’, the firm said.

As widely tipped prior to the keynote, Google also launched Music Beta by Google, a service similar to Amazon’s Cloud service, also allowing users to upload their own music for streaming to computers and Android devices.

Music Beta is an invitation-only beta and only available in the US. Another ‘America only’ feature is that of new movie rentals from the Android Market which will be available not just on Android devices but on home computers too.

The Google I/O 2011 keynote address can be seen here.

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