At long last, the awaiting and much anticipated Google Android OS 2.2 is now out, otherwise known as FroYo. Among the highlights that were shown off at Moscone West in San Francisco can be found right after the jump, and it ought to make geeks as well as those who want to make the most out of their Android-powered smartphones wish that the Android 2.2 from their respective carriers could be released sooner rather than later. Enjoy!
Speed: Dalvik Virtual Machine. As we covered before, Android 2.2 will feature a Just In Time (JIT) compiler that provides 2x to 5x speed-up on any given hardware. The JIT compiler will compile virtual machine byte code into native code when the app is launched. A demo shown that as more sprites were added, the JIT compiler managed to speed things up by up to 2.2 times.
Enterprise users, take note! Exchange is better supported (auto-discovery, security policies, GAL lookup). Apart from that, devices can also be administrated in a better, more efficient method. Now you know why your boss decided to get you that spanking new EVO 4G, eh?
Until now, Android does not backup data in applications. This will be fixed in FroYo as you migrate to a new device, making data transfer a snap – or should we say, a dream?
Cloud to device API: it is possible to communicate from the cloud to the device. In this example, we send driving directions to a device…not only does the phone receive said data, but it kicks into navigation mode right away. You are also able to send links and other things. This looks very cool.
Tethering – as we brought you whispers of USB tethering being enabled earlier, it is finally official. Most folks would probably rate this as one of the more significant jumps made in the OS update. After all, we’re already paying way too much for our data plans, so sharing it makes sense. Creating a hotspot for many devices (9?) is easy. Google shows how an iPad can benefit from it – :)
As Google makes a rather significant push for Web apps to become mainstream, and ultimately won’t fall under anyone’s control, they will be enabling HTML5 access the hardware. Needless to say, this feature will be beyond FroYo, and who knows, it might arrive in time for Gingerbread (Android 3.0)? Just a side note – motion sensors can now be accessed from within the browser, so it remains to be seen how developers will take advantage of that.
Voice input: Google sees a ton of requests emanating from voice commands. The on-stage demo was fairly impressive, we have to admit. We are talking about long phrases that are recognized and dealt with very quickly, at least it is a whole lot superior to Brain Age on the Nintendo DS where we used to get frustrated trying to say “Blue” and “Yellow” in a manner where the game could recognize said words. It does seem that Google currently commands a huge advantage on the voice front compared to Apple, and this trend looks set to continue with strong fundamentals from Google’s side. You can launch apps, and add context like saying “call” to initiate a call on a specific keyword. With a Translate app, getting around foreign neighborhoods is a cinch.
Not only that, Google lets another one fly at Apple since Android will support Flash and Air. Basically, this will open the floodgates for apps that were specially built for the Web, including casual games and the ilk. According to Google, “It’s fun to work with other folks to provide customer with useful stuff, it’s much better than just saying “No”.”
Updating your applications will also be a snap, not to mention their bread and butter – Search. To make things more interesting, Google now allows you to search within application data as well, all that from the comfort of your handset, now how about that!
With Android 2.2, users are able to use the Flash card to store pplications. Apart from that, Android finally gets the Update All function which means you can set Android to update apps automatically – just make sure you’re on an “unlimited” data plan lest you be slapped with an insane phone bill at the end of the month.
To make things more stable in the future, users are able to send detailled bug reports to the developer. It’s pretty easy, most people just need to click on a button should anything go wrong and hope that the developers who receive it will do something about the situation. This is going to be pretty cool for devs as it’s pretty hard to try your app on everything, which means the user can help them narrow down on what goes wrong, where.
Android Market on PC: Once logged in, Android Market knows what your phone(s) is/are. You can browse apps and read reviews amongst other stuff. Upon confirmation, the app is wirelessly uploaded to the device – unlike Apple’s tethering process with the iPhone and/or iPod touch. Again, ouch – kudos to Google for coming up with such initiatives, and it is rather funny to see Apple play catch up in this area…
Of course, this works for Music, too. But what about the music that we all have on our computers? Google will release a product that will let users stream music from your PC to the phone over the Internet – guess fast connections are always welcome.
Ads: a subject very dear to developers, Google has hundreds of thousands of advertisers, which is an advantage (duh). Google has something for everyone, it says. Enough to cater for the needs of advertisers and publishers. Google also has some metrics that buyers love – this is arguably not unique to Google. All ad network do have this, although not to Google’s extent. Google usually has contextually relevant ads, in this case, the ads rely on image content instead of text. Text and banners ads are available. Expendable ads are also available if the need arises. Google will also serve ads from other networks, when available. Google points out that this is the advantage of being open. You can learn more at google.com/mobileads. If a developer sign up, Google will provide a $100 credit for test purposes.
Well, that’s all for the moment, stay tuned and we will bring you more from Google I/O 2010!