Test-Drive Android 1.5

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.  - Google is offering an "early look" at the software development kit for Android 1.5, the next version of its Linux-based mobile operating system.

The upgrades and additions include a soft keyboard, support for third-party keyboards and widgets that include an analog clock, calendar and a music player.

According to the development blog the new version also offers a Webkit browser with the Squirrelfish Javascript engine, cut-and-paste, in-page search and tabbed bookmarks, plus video upload to YouTube and photo upload to Picasa and well as developer tools and other features.

The new SDK contains both Android versions 1.1 and 1.5 and future SDKs will follow suit with multiple platforms available. The blog plans to feature upcoming articles on various tech elements of the OS, according to the UK site The Register.

The Android marketplace has appeared more open to adult-leaning applications as an alternative to the very restricted iPhone, though only soft-core apps are allowed, as recently reported by AVN.com.

If you're a developer game for a sneak peek, download the SDK version of Android 1.5 here.

Among the companies that already offer or will offer Android-based phones this year are T-Mobile, Sprint, Sony Ericsson and Motorola.

Also in the works for 2010 are netbooks running the Android OS.