Android owners of the Motorola Droid will be happy to know that Motorola has announced via Facebook that it will be releasing an OS upgrade from Android 2.0 to Android 2.1–the OS that was released on the Google Nexus One. The update will be a mixed blessing for Android fans as it will match the Nexus One in features, but will not bring some of the glitz of the Nexus One to the Droid, with speculation that Google’s disparate hardware lineup will force the company to distinguish between the higher-spec’ed Nexus One’s Qualcomm processor and the 600 MHz CPU of the Droid.
Among the welcomed features are multitouch in the maps application, which can be had right now via a stand-alone Google Maps 3.4 maps upgrade–pinch and zoom in the Browser app, the news and weather widget, and Google’s visual search called Google Goggles built-in–Google Goggles enables users to snap a picture of an item of their interest and Google’s search engine will bring up relevant search results based on the picture in question.
What’s missing–the bad news–is that some of glitz is gone. Android 2.1 for the Droid will not come with animated wallpapers nor will it have the 3D apps grid that was present on the Nexus One. It remains to be known whether this is because the Droid lacks the higher processing specs of the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor found on the Nexus One for those eye-candy features to be enabled or if Google is reserving the eye-candy for its own branded phone line-up, which debuted with the Nexus One. If it’s the former, then we’re beginning to see fragmentation at the OS level, which can’t be good for a nascent platform, and the former case may indicate some inequities and it will only be time and the next big OS to come around to haunt Google’s decision to give preferential treatment to its own OS. With Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7 just around the corner, it may be some time before we see if preferential treatment has any adverse impact to Google’s decision to leave out some features of 2.1 for the Droid. A third theory could be Motorola and/or Verizon Wireless not wanting those features for other reasons, like shortened battery life.