Android This Week: TweetDeck, Dell Streak, Voice Actions

TweetDeck is a cross-platform Twitter app that has become hugely popular with fans of the social network. The desktop version uses multiple columns to provide a useful window into the user’s Twitter kingdom. This week, Android (s goog) phone owners finally got their hands on TweetDeck, as the app was released in beta. We got an early look at TweetDeck for Android, and it has the basic functionality of other versions, plus it adds a useful one not seen before: The Home column in TweetDeck for Android not only shows the user’s Twitter timeline, it integrates that with other social networks. Currently, it blends Facebook, Foursquare and Google Buzz updates into this column, with each displayed in a different color for easy tracking. This early beta version of TweetDeck shows that very good things are coming for the Android platform from the developers.

Dell (s dell) has been talking about the Streak handheld device for over a year, and this week it launched in the U.S. on the AT&T (s t) network. The Streak is a tablet with full phone capability, although the 5-inch screen pushes the limit for a phone. Dell is offering the Streak for $549, or $299 with a 2-year voice and data contract with AT&T. It will be interesting to see how consumers react to such a large phone — or a small tablet depending on your point of view — and if buyers pick it up to use as a secondary device or as their main phone.

This week, Google announced some additional features for Android phones designed to turn the phone into a tool that’s even easier to use. Voice actions have been integrated into Google Search that use voice input to trigger various actions. I’ve been using it to send text messages, and it’s quite good. For example, I say “send text message to Sheri Kendrick, Be home by 6” and the phone interprets that and pops up the text message box with the message ready to send with a simple tap. Google also announced the ChromeToPhone extension for the desktop browser. I’ve been using an early version of this for a few weeks, and it’s a useful way to send web links, maps and media to my Android phone. The information triggers a notification on the phone when sent from the desktop, and when that’s selected, Android triggers the appropriate app to display the information. These features require Android 2.2, which leaves quite a few phone owners out of luck.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub. req’d): Google’s Mobile Strategy: Understanding the Nexus One