15 Comments

Summary:

Google has let Android 2.2, dubbed Froyo, out of the bag and today shared a lot of information about it. I watched the keynote while playing with a Google Nexus One phone running Froyo, and have captured the key points about Android 2.2 for your convenience.

CIMG2378

Google has let Android 2.2, dubbed Froyo, out of the bag and today shared a lot of information about this and upcoming versions of the Android platform at the Google I/O conference. I watched the keynote while playing with a Google Nexus One phone running Froyo, and have captured all of the key points about Android 2.2 for your convenience.

Android is like a runaway 18-wheeler going full speed downhill; there will be no stopping it. We were recently impressed by the admission that 65,000 Android phones are activated every day. It’s no wonder the latest figure shared today by Google left us amazed — 100,000 Android phones are now being activated daily. That is a lot of phones, and demonstrates how rapidly Android is being adopted in the consumer space. Equally impressive was the word that over 1 billion miles have now been navigated using Google Maps Navigation, and that was only introduced 6 months ago. Don’t step in front of the runaway, you will get run over.

Here are the main features in Android 2.2 in no particular order:

Speed boost. Google has improved the just-in-time (JIT) compiler to make the entire system much faster. Benchmarks I conducted showed this is up to 6 times faster than Android 2.1. The browser in 2.2 is 2 – 3 times faster than the previous version according to Google, and this is evident in my own use. It is probably the fastest mobile browser in existence.

Adobe Flash 10.1 and AIR support. Adobe launched the beta of Flash Player 10.1 for Android today in conjunction with the release of Android 2.2. My conversations with Adobe indicated the general release of Flash 10.1 is planned for June 17. The Flash beta is available today for supported handsets. Due to requirements in Android 2.2, no earlier version of Android will be able to run Flash 10.1.

Tethering and mobile hot spot. Version 2.2 bakes tethering right into the OS. An Android 2.2 phone can supply the data connectivity for any device over Wi-Fi with just a few simple steps. Laptops can also be tethered via a USB cable. It is important to note that even though this is now integrated into Android, the carriers will have final say on whether a given phone will have this activated, and how much it will cost to use.

Browser APIs for developers. Froyo makes the browser acceptable to developers to add cool features to the web and web apps. Google demonstrated how a phone camera can be controlled by the browser in such an instance.

Android intent. Google has added a feature for developers to exploit called “Android intent” that can take apps to a new level. A demo was shown where an app could send an address via an “intent”, causing Google Maps to open ready to navigate to that address without user intervention.

Complex voice control. Froyo can handle more advanced searches by voice — e. g. “images of Golden Gate Bridge at sunset” will actually return a list (with thumbnails) of same. Google Translate will now accept spoken phrases and return both spoken and written translation in Android.

Application Management. As I demonstrated in my video, Froyo now includes more sophisticated management of apps in the settings. A task manager is now part of this management, along with the ability to install apps onto a memory card.

Auto-updates for apps. Users of Froyo can now opt-in for automatic updating of installed apps when such updates become available. No other user action is required. Version 2.2 also brings a new “Update All” option that will find and apply updates for all installed apps in one pass.

Syncing OTA. Google’s acquisition announced today of Simplified Media will be leveraged to provide iTunes-like music and app syncing with Android 2.2 phones. This will go iTunes one better by allowing the syncing over-the-air (OTA).

Adsense for Mobile Apps. Google is starting this program to compete directly with the recently launched iAds venture of Apple’s. This program will feature ads within apps just like the Apple version.

 

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

  1. let’s not forget exchange server and added features for business. . . Android is making a run at RIM now ;)

    Nice summary JK

    Share
  2. James, when you say the new JIT compiler results in the faster mobile browser in existence, are you also comparing that to your experiences with the iPad?

    I’d be interested in some informal (or formal) comparisons between Froyo and the iPad.

    As I recall, in an attempt to discern more about the speed/underpinnings/etc. of the new Apple A4, Anandtech did some testings between the iPad and Nexus One. If I recall correctly, the iPad was overall faster than the Nexus one leading some to conclude that the A4 and SnapDragon were built upon the same ARM generation technology, but that perhaps the A4 was clocked slightly higher or had some other minor optimization.

    We can’t unfortunately test the processors on the same footing, so we end up having to accept the unique software stacks as a component of testing. Now that we have significant advances in the Android software, I’m curious to see where the two devices are now.

    Share
    1. I was comparing it to phone browsers but it is very comparable to browsing on the iPad. This is my own experience and not benchmarks, of course.

      Share
  3. Is there a rom available on the inter webs or just through sdk dl

    Share
  4. I switched from the iPhone 3G about three weeks ago. There are two things I absolutely hate about the N1. One is that I only have silent mode (to which I cannot add vibrate) and non-silent mode. I would want Ring and vibrate. I found an ap that sort of solves this but this should be configurable.

    The second thing (that I could not fix) is that the damn button on the headset does one of a million random things. How hard is it to control the thing I most recently listened to (music or podcast) and when there is an incoming or active call, let it control that. I tried a half a dozen podcasting apps (doggcatcher, MyPod, Listen, acast, others I cannot remember) to see what works best and all either failed at podcast management or the button.

    Both of these things should be handled by the OS. Without solid control of the headset control button on the OS level this will never work appropriately. While I am looking forward to a faster OS and Flash (especially for video playback) I REALLY wish for a change in these come Froyo. So I guess I did not find out “everything” I wanted to know. :) But if you can take a look at these still, I am interested to hear.

    Share
    1. Levi,

      I don’t know about the N1, but with the Droid you can have vibrate and ring… It vibrates about 2s before the phone rings. It took a while to find the actual setting for this.

      With regard to the buttons/headphone etc. I use a program called Tasker – http://tasker.dinglisch.net which allows the button to be reconfigured or pop up a menu. It also pulls up a (configurable) menu with listen/3/Music/YouTube icons when I plug in my headphones. Along with a mass of other things such as automatically enabling the WiFi when I get home…

      Hope this helps.

      Share
    2. You can have vibrate on the phone. It’s not from the shortcut on the lock screen, but if you use the volume buttons when you’re on the home page you can, or you can go to settings and do it that way. (Same as any other phone I’ve ever used)

      Share
      1. Thanks for the help for both of you. Yes, I actually would want the vibrate from the lock screen. I noticed the volume button trick but the app that hacked the lock screen seemed closer to what I needed. Vibrate and ring won’t help me :(. I need either/or.

        I’ll take a look at the ap. It sounds interesting, though still sufficiently inconvenient. After failing with acast yesterday (great ap with this exception) I am starting to think the solution is either to find a media player with a good podcatcher integrated into it. Of course it still needs to lets the phone take over on calls but some podcatchers I found did this OK. If it is integrated it would work for me. Alternatively I need to find a podcatcher to download and let the media player see what it downloads. This is working already but listen sees nothing but chaos.

        Or I can pray that 2.2 will work better :) But I am not holding my breath. I am planning to use this phone for a while (September 2011 is the target) but I totally can see myself going back to the iPhone. But they need to start selling it unlocked before that happens. Maybe when the exclusive deals are up.

        Share
  5. Oh Google the real question is when will you fix your Exchange implementation? Right now it’s equivalent to the initial Implimentation on the iPhone. It simply doesn’t meet the security restrictions of any security conscious IT organization. No support for remote security profiles, is should be blocked by every organization running Exchange 2003 or more greater.

    Google wake up, embrace the Enterprise market space!

    Share
    1. There are some improvements in the Exchange support, although they weren’t highlighted in the keynote. From the Android 2.2 platform highlights found here: http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-2.2-highlights.html

      “Exchange support
      Improved security with the addition of numeric pin or alpha-numeric password options to unlock device. Exchange administrators can enforce password policy across devices.

      Remote wipe: Exchange administrators can remotely reset the device to factory defaults to secure data in case device is lost or stolen.

      Exchange Calendars are now supported in the Calendar application.

      Auto-discovery: you just need to know your user-name and password to easily set up and sync an Exchange account (available for Exchange 2007 and higher).

      Global Address Lists look-up is now available in the Email application, enabling users to auto-complete recipient names from the directory.”

      Share
  6. I hate to rant, but, is there any word of activation of that portion of the Bluetooth stack that would enable robust voice recognition via BT? It’s still incredible to me that “dumb” handsets can out perform my incredibly intelligent smart phone and allow me to “call Joe at home” in a hands-free mode.

    Share
  7. Does Froyo support WPA2 enterprise? seems like a silly thing to leave out of an OS if you are aiming for enterprise customers.

    Donovan

    Share
  8. I was wondering if you know when is FroYo coming to Malaysia? as in Penang?

    Share
  9. Hi, btw ‘Android intents’ aren’t a new thing they have always been a part of the framework.

    You mean they’ve introduced cloud-to-device messaging, messages which trigger intents on the device.

    An intent is quite an abstract object that the Android framework uses to not only start various applications like the browser but start services, change the time, shutdown, … many things.

    But otherwise a nice rundown of new features.

    Share
  10. Excellent overview. I just got my Froyo upgrade last night want wanted to know all of the new cool things that it can do.

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post