Google Android will receive its first major upgrade soon, so to build enthusiasm for the upgrade, Google let slip a sneap peak of the developer kit for version 1.5, codenamed "Cupcake." If you haven't gotten excited about Android yet, take a look--Google is adding some seriously cool functionality.
For developers, applications will be easier to write and much more robust, with better debugging capability and virtual testing. End users will also notice a difference: Google has promised improvements like an on-screen soft keyboard, new application polish for almost every built-in app, landscape/portrait modes, a new widget array, video recording and playback, YouTube and Picasa uploading, and a revamped browser. You can see the full list of feature improvements here. (Below, the Vodafone Magic, HTC's new Android-based phone to be released later this year.)
Google is ramping up for an onslaught of Android-based phones in 2009, with LG, HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Garmin all on-board to release their own devices soon--many of which, according to rumors, will need that on-screen keyboard. It may also see a proliferation of non-phone Android devices like Motorola's TV set-top box, dubbed "au Box." [EDIT: au Box is based on the KreaTV platform.] Whatever the range of devices Google has to work with, they have to get going fast; should Apple and RIM gain even more lead time over Google phones, Android could face a dearth of developer enthusiasm.