Why today is a very Happy Thursday for Droid / Android owners

There are not one but two big updates coming to your Droid today.

1) Google has released Google Maps for Mobile version 4.1.
  • The new update will let you put Latitude as a button or widget on the home screen.  Friends in Latitude now have directional arrows and distance to them. (Nice for finding them.)
  • Search screen is updated to put more info on screen
  • You can now switch accounts in Google maps.  (In case there is more than one of you.)
  • This should already appear as an automatic update. If not, go to the market and look at your apps.
2) Verizon Wireless will begin over the air updates to the Android Operating systems on Droid phones bringing them to Android OS 2.1.

  • Pinch-to-zoom is now available when using the browser, Gallery, and Google Maps.
  • New Weather and News application plus widget.
    • get weekly and hourly weather forecasts based on your location, and news headlines.
  • New support for voice-to-text entry.
    • Whenever a text-entry box appears, simply tap the microphone icon on the virtual keyboard and speak.
  • New Gallery application with 3D layout. View and share photos taken with your phone and images from your online Picasa Web albums.
  • Live Wallpapers offer richer animated, interactive backgrounds on the home screen. Access them with a long press anywhere on the home screen. Tap Wallpapers, then Live Wallpapers.
  • Free Yahoo!® Mail is now supported
  • Google Maps update.2
    • Personalized suggestions and synchronized starring with desktop maps.google.com.
    • Starred items are stored and synced automatically between Google Maps on your device and maps.google.com on your computer.
    • New night mode in Google Maps Navigation automatically changes the screen at night for easier viewing.
  • Improved pattern-lock functionality.
  • Improved handset audio when disconnecting a wired headset.
  • Email accounts no longer need to be re-entered after an over-the-air update.
I've got the maps update loaded already.  Verizon will be rolling out the Android OS in batches beginning this  morning and testing as they go.

UPDATE:  This is what the screens will look like on the Droid for the system update. You'll want to be connected to main power for the update.

About Phil Yanov

Phil Yanov is a Technologist, Columnist and Public Radio Commentator.

He is the founder of Tech After Five as well as the founder and President of the GSA Technology Council and the IT Leadership Council.

His personal technology column appears in Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Journal.

He co-hosts the Your Day technology shows heard on NPR radio stations across South Carolina and is a frequent contributor to technology stories appearing on radio and television.