Verizon Droid Does Android 2.1

After a lengthy wait and at least one delay, Verizon (s vz) today began to push out the Android 2.1 (s goog) update to its Motorola Droid (s mot) customers. The staggered plan began with 1,000 customers today, which is expected to be followed by 9,000 additional customers at midnight. Engadget says if all goes well by then, everyone else’s Droid will do 2.1 in a large wave on Thursday of this week. Here’s a listing of the features and enhancements per a Verizon Wireless support document on the Droid (PDF):

  • Pinch-to-zoom is now available when using the browser, Gallery, and Google Maps.
  • New Weather and News application plus widget. ? The Weather and News app pulls the information you want from the Web and brings it to your fingertips. You 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—simply sign in with your Yahoo! email address and password.
  • Google Maps update ? Personalized suggestions and synchronized starring with desktop
  • Starred items are stored and synced automatically between Google Maps on your device and on your computer, making it easy to search for places you’ve searched for before.
  • 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.

Having used Android 2.1 since the beginning of January, my opinion is that Droid owners are in for a treat. Android 2.1 brings a fairly large number of improvements and functions for a point release. We’ll all have different thoughts on what specifically will be most welcome in the update since we all have different needs, but voice-to-text and multitouch support in native apps are tops on my list. There’s plenty to like though, so watch your Droid for the update. Assuming all goes well, you should see software version AP: ESE81/BP: C_01.3E.03P by the end of this week, if not sooner.