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Google Announces Froyo, Teases Future Android Improvements

android froyo
Today at the Google I/O developer conference the Web giant announced the newest version of Android, 2.2 or Froyo. The latest sugar-coated update of the mobile operating system packs in a number of seriously impressive enhancements and features that should only serve to reinforce its position as one of the most innovative operating systems in the mobile sphere. Here's a quick run down of what to expect when Android 2.2 lands on devices sometime in the very near future and a glimpse of where Google plans to take its smartphone OS from here.

Speed Increases:

Froyo = World's Fastest Mobile Browser
Of all the enhancements being added to Android, perhaps the most exciting are the speed boosts. These huge speed increases come thanks to a couple of under-the-hood additions to the OS and the browser. First is a Just In Time (JIT) compiler for apps. That may sound like gibberish to the layman, but it's a big deal for developers. Depending on the application it can result in speed increases of two to five times over current performance. On the browser front Android is getting the V8 Javascript engine that makes Chrome the fastest browser on the desktop. The speed increases over the older Android browser are nothing short of astounding, and (at least in the Google demo) it beat the iPad by a rather large margin.

Support for Flash and Air:

Android Adds Support for Flash

Google didn't spare any chance to take jabs at Apple. The most obvious opportunity to fire a shot across the bow of the iPhone ecosystem came when Google announced that Froyo would include support for Flash and Air out of the box. This will actually put the full Web in the palm of your hand, including videos from services like Hulu.

Push Data Over the Cloud:

Send Directions from PC to your Phone

Froyo will be adding a new feature that will allow users to push data to a cell phone over the air from a PC. As a demonstration Google looked up direction on Google Maps. Then, with the click of a button, sent those directions to an Android handset that automatically launched the navigation software with destination loaded -- no input required. Developers will have full access to this feature for sending data from a PC to a handset or Android powered tablet, and it will be interesting to see what companies come up with.



Android Market Updates:

Update All in Android Market

This is long overdue, but the Android market finally has an "Update All" option for your applications. But Google isn't simply content to match Apple for features, it wants to take it one step further. So with Froyo users will have the ability to auto-update applications, removing the need to visit the marketplace and check for newer versions. Even better the Android Market will be getting a proper website where you'll be able to browse and purchase apps and have them downloaded automatically on your phone -- no need to sync with some resource hungry application. Also, while it's not exactly an enhancement to the Android Market, the new ability to load applications on an SD card, greatly expanding the amount of storage space available for apps, will please developers and Android geeks alike.

Tethering:

Android as a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Using your mobile phone to connect a laptop to the Web is hardly a new idea. Here in the U.S. we're still waiting for that feature to show up for the iPhone, leaving the door wide open for Google to not only enable tethering, but make it an integral part of the OS. What's more, Android 2.2 will feature the ability to turn your handset into a Wi-Fi hotspot for connecting several devices at once and allowing you to ditch the cables.

Ads:

Mobile Advertising on Android

Froyo is also packing a host of new improvements to mobile advertising, taking a direct shot at Apple's attempt to corner the market with iAds. Google's plans involve interactive and expandable advertisements that can be of varying degrees of complexity. Tapping an add can do something as simple as initiating a call to a company (as indicated by a phone icon), launch a movie trailer or open store locations on Google Maps. All of these features are available without closing or even completely obscuring a running application. Google is also putting its money where its mouth it when it comes to openness. These rich advertisements are not required to be served up by Google's own doubleClick mobile ad network. Instead the platform is open to any ad network that a developer chooses to use.

Future of Android:

Stream iTunes to Android

To wrap up the presentation, Google gave us a preview of what to expect in the next iteration of Android, code-named Gingerbread. Gingerbread should bring significant enhancements to support for HTML5 to access phone hardware, for example using the digital compass to orient Google maps in the browser. Gingerbread will also include support for a new streaming app that will allow you to listen to any DRM free music in your iTunes or Windows Media library straight from your phone. That last feature will be particularly exciting if it works over 3G, but there is no official word from Google (yet) as to whether the streaming will be Wi-Fi only. Update: Google contacted us to let us know that the demo was using Wi-Fi to connect both the phone and the computer to the Internet, not to each other. That means Android will be able to stream your iTunes (or other media library) from your PC to your phone over 3G where ever you are.

With Gingerbread (Android 3.0?) expected to land by the fourth quarter of this year expect to see Froyo popping up on devices in the very near future, with the Nexus One leading the charge.

Tags: android, android 2.2, android froyo, android gingerbread, Android2.2, AndroidFroyo, AndroidGingerbread, cellphones, flash, froyo, gingerbread, google io, GoogleIo, mobile, smartphones, top

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