An ex-President of Google China has announced development of a new operating system, called Tapas, that is based on Android and tailored specifically for his domestic market. According to Kai-Fu Lee, who left Google to found a startup incubation firm known as Innovation Works, Tapas will bring value-added features to Chinese consumers such as advanced caller ID, sync support for popular local social networks, and an e-book application with dedicated subway mode. There will also be a media player on board that displays song lyrics automatically, perfect for the mobile karaoke lover.
So far Innovation Works has funded 12 companies, and plans to back 15 more prospects this year. Besides Tapas, the firm is also behind a project known as Wonderpod, which promises to download video clips and backup SMS messages as email for Android-powered devices.
Of course, Tapas will not be the only homegrown OS in town: major national carrier China Mobile has its own Android derivative, called OPhone, which has been adopted by such manufacturers as Lenovo, Motorola, and smartphone-upstart Dell. For its part, Tapas is expected to ship on handsets from Sharp, Haier, and domestic OEM Tianyu in the coming weeks.