The Motorola Milestone is one of the top-selling smartphones that runs Google's Android operating system. ((Jeff Chiu/Canadian Press))

Google is adding Flash, the popular software used for video and multimedia on the web, and a host of other new features to its Android smartphone operating system.

An upcoming update, which is available now to software developers and will be rolled out to phone makers in the coming weeks, will allow owners of smartphones running Android to view websites that use Adobe Flash to deliver video and multimedia elements.

The capability could give Android phones an advantage in web surfing over Apple's iPhone, which does not run Flash.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has publicly criticized Adobe's software for being proprietary and for demanding too much battery power.

Jobs's criticism prompted Adobe to fire back in full-page newspaper ads last week.

"We [heart] Apple," the ad reads. "What we don't love is anybody taking away your freedom to choose what you create, how you create it and what you experience on the web."

Google executives took their own shots at Apple in announcing the Android update at a developers' conference in San Francisco on Thursday.

"It's much nicer [to work with Adobe] than just saying 'no'," said Vic Gundotra, Google's vice-president of engineering.

The Android update will also feature improvements in the speed and performance of applications and the web browser, how apps are sold through Google's Market and how users can copy and move their data.

Android 2.2, code-named "FroYo," will also let users turn their smartphone into a Wi-Fi hotspot, which will allow them to share their cellular internet connection with other devices.

Google also announced that the new Android Market will compete with Apple's iTunes store and software by selling music that can be downloaded directly to phones, rather than having to first go through a computer. The company did not provide details, however.

Google said there are now more than 60 types of phones running Android, with 100,000 individual devices being activated every day. The company said Android devices are now second in U.S. smartphone sales, behind Research In Motion and its BlackBerry but ahead of Apple's iPhone.