Google CEO Eric Schmidt is predicting that use of the company’s Android phone OS is about to explode. That’s exactly the sort of thing you’d expect the CEO of Google to predict, but in this case the self-serving prediction looks like it might be the accurate one, too. We’re only just now starting to see Android-based phones arrive in significant quantities, and while none of the ones we know about so far seems to be a landmark device, they add up to a platform that’s likely to be the iPhone’s most formidable rival for the time being.
So far, I respect Android but don’t love it–as an OS, it gets the job done, but it doesn’t match the innovation, efficiency, elegance, or ingenuity of Apple’s iPhone OS or, as seen in the Pre, Palm’s WebOS. So I’m looking forward to Android 2.0–aka “Eclair”–and am intrigued by The Boy Genius Report’s gallery of screenshots. They don’t reveal anything awe-inspiring, but there look to be lots of little refinements, plus a faster browser, Exchange support, a unified inbox (although one which, oddly enough, supposedly doesn’t support Gmail), and built-in Facebook integration.
It’s impossible to judge an operating system from screen images alone, and many Android phones will sport customized interfaces and functionality. But if Android’s going to be everywhere–and I bet it is–it’ll be nice if it’s fully competitive with the most polished and functional mobile OSes in existence. Eclair looks like a step in the right direction, at least…