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