Android 2.2: Froyo

froyoVic Gundotra, VP of engineering at Google unveiled Android 2.2 at the I/O developer’s conference in San Francisco today, citing the release pillars: fast, efficient, and automatic. Changes are numerous and include performance enhancements, improved user friendliness, better ad implementation, and some long awaited features that have fueled the widespread use of hacked software amongst Android users.

Of course, official support is much more robust and well integrated than hacks, and one Froyo feature that stands out in this regard is the ability to install applications to the SD card. They can either be managed intelligently by the OS or individually moved by the user. All applications can be updated simultaneously, as desk-and-laptop Linux users have been doing for years. This also can be managed by the OS or user.

Wi-Fi tethering *and* hot-spot functionality are now part of Android, and long awaited Exchange support comes in the box with all 2.2+ devices. Application data will now be backed up with the applications themselves, so upgrading a device or switching phones will be less of a hassle than it has been in the past. Market applications designed for back up may need to focus on niche features (root) to remain competitive.

Google unveiled some new tools for developers today that result in some stunning capabilities for your gadget, including remote wipe, accessing the camera, accelerometer, and other hardware from within the browser, and an unprecedented level of crash feedback for coders.

Cloud to device messaging APIs were demonstrated triggering various device activities through deep integration with the Android OS. For example, the sending of “intents” to an Android device allows a Google Maps route to be sent via the web, automatically opening Google Nav with the route info already plugged in. Or, when reading a device on the desktop, sending an intent will open the browser to the correct site and article on an Android phone.

In terms of speed, Froyo’s JIT compiler facilitates applications to run two to five times faster than they would on Eclair (2.1) using the exact same hardware. A demonstration of increased frame rates in game play pitted Froyo against Eclair, and it wasn’t pretty. One might call the contest a brutal beat down. Regardless of the choosing of favorable circumstances for the display, it was impressive.

Froyo’s browser is the fastest, worldwide, on the mobile stage. As Vic stated, “It is critical for [Google] to make sure that the Android browser rocks.” The inclusion of Flash is a strong step in the right direction.

There were some vague points in the keynote that made it unclear as to whether certain changes would be seen in Froyo or in Q4 with the next Android release, Gingerbread. Or, possibly “beyond.” But Google showed off the initiation of app downloads to a phone via the desktop browser and streaming of music stored on a home library over the Internet to an Android. Nice.

Froyo will be released in June. Stay tuned to DroidDog for follow up coverage of Google I/O 2010.

Image via Gizmodo
Notice the static web and phone icons.