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By Contador Wanarua

Google has announced details of an update to its tablet operating system, Honeycomb, previewed a whole new version of the operating system called Ice Cream Sandwich and revealed new music storage and movie rentals services. It has also previewed its new attempts to encourage companies to build accessories for Android phones and to get Android-compatible, wireless technology built into home appliances, from light bulbs to dishwashers. Made at the company’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco, the slew of announcements came on an opening day that Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra divided into “Momentum, Mobile and More” for the Android platform.

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The 200,000 apps in the Android Market have now been downloaded 4.5 billion times. A new version of the tablet operating system, Honeycomb, will update widgets, provide more compatibility with accessories such as keyboards and game controllers, and also be applied to the American Google TV products subsequently; Ice Cream Sandwich will unite the tablet and mobile phone operating system into a single programme. Google said it was their “most ambitious release to date”. Features demonstrated including a video conferencing application that automatically detects and zooms in on whoever is speaking.

The company is also to launch movie rentals in Android, working across Google TV, tablets and phones, as well as a service allowing users to store their music online and access it on Android devices. Both will initially be US-only. An international network of manufacturers and mobile networks has, however, signed up to support timely updates to mobile devices. Google and users had been frustrated when one handset was updated more quickly than another; the company said. A range of new products that will extend Android’s reach into other categories has also been unveiled. Wireless technology will be built into a range of light bulbs, for instance, to allow tablets or phones to be used to turn them on or off. Integration into other products such as exercise bikes was also demonstrated.

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