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Android and WinMo updates going head-to-head

Smarter smartphones inbound?

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The rivalry between Android and Windows Mobile looks set to heighten, with Google and Microsoft both poised to release updates for their mobile operating systems.

Android 2.0 – aka Éclair – only recently began filtering through onto mobile devices. Its successor, version 2.1, has now been uncovered, thanks to the release of a downloadable SDK for application developers.

The update is “a minor platform release”, Google admitted, with perhaps its most notable feature being a new USB manager for the company’s own Nexus One smartphone.

Android 2.1’s other tweaks include creation of active/living wallpapers – something borrowed from Windows 7, perhaps? – and a 3D-enabled picture gallery.

Voice recognition has also been extended into more areas, letting you dictate a text message or ask for a certain song, for example.

Google coughed up to some unspecified bug fixes inside Android 2.1, adding that the update will be available to users later this month.

Meanwhile Microsoft showed Windows Mobile version 6.5.3 off to CES attendees last week. It's the latest tweak to version 6.5, released towards the tail end of last year

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Microsoft hasn’t made any official or concrete statements about the updates’ new features. A YouTube video demonstration of the update’s features has, however, revealed that Microsoft has moved function buttons from the top of the screen to the bottom – presumably making it easier for you to select icons with your thumb.

A scrolling widget bar now features at the top of the screen, according to the video, while icons and menus were described as bigger than before.

The update also allows users switch between different keyboard views and functions by swiping left or right, the video added.

Microsoft is expected to release Windows Mobile 6.5.3 later this year. ®

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