NEWS

Android 2.2: What's New?

May 21, 2010 4:29 PM

JR Raphael

google-android-22-froyo_original.jpg

My oh my, the air is smelling sweet today.

Google took the wraps off its next-generation Android operating system, Android 2.2, Thursday morning. Android 2.2 -- better known by its codename Froyo -- will add even more power and flexibility into the growing ecosystem of Android smartphones.

So what's Android Froyo all about, and what'll it do for you? Here are answers to all your burning questions.

What are the biggest new features in Android 2.2?

Where to start? The most significant core changes to the Android operating system revolve around these four points:

Android 2.2 Froyo

• Speed: Android 2.2 runs two to five times as fast as previous versions, thanks to a new Dalvik JIT compiler that allows for better CPU performance. And with a brand new Javascript engine, the stock Android browser is also two to three times faster than it was in Android 2.1. Plus, app switching should be noticeably smoother due to improved memory reclaim in the Froyo build.

• Flash: Froyo will be the first Android edition with full support for Adobe Flash and Adobe Air. (If you don't want to use it, you don't have to. If you do, you can. Choice -- now, that's refreshing!)

• Tethering: Android 2.2 has built-in support for tethering, though carriers will likely have to choose to allow it. Of course, you can turn your Android phone into a wireless modem on your own -- right now, with or without Android 2.2 -- if you know how.

• Mobile hotspot support: Along with tethering comes the ability to Android 2.2 Mobile Hotspotuse your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, spreading your 3G connection wirelessly to other devices. Again, carriers will presumably have to sign off on this and may or may not allow it for free.

(Time out: Are you seeing the Android 2.2 images on this page? If not, you may want to click here to view the story in its original location. That'll let you see screenshots of all these tasty Froyo features in action.)

How will apps change with Android 2.2?

Hey, good question; you're clearly an intelligent and amiable individual. The answer is that with Froyo, Google's giving us a bunch of new ways to take advantage of apps from the Android Market and beyond. The highlights:

• SD card installations: Yep, you'll finally be able to install apps Google Android Apps: SD Cardon your SD card, smashing the space limitations of Android versions past. You'll be able to select where you want each app to be installed -- SD card or internal storage -- and even toggle it back and forth with a couple of clicks later.

• Auto-update and update-all functionality: Froyo introduces the option to have your apps automatically update themselves when new versions roll in; you just configure the permissions to your likings and Android does the rest. If you decide to stick with manual updates, Android 2.2 will let you update multiple apps at the same time with a new "Update All" button inside the Android Market.

• App backup: A new option within the Android settings menu lets you back up and restore your apps' data. You could use this to recover lost information or even just move data and settings from one phone to another.

• Cloud-to-device messaging: It's as cool as it sounds. Android 2.2's new cloud-to-device messaging capability means developers can build in Web-based functions that will communicate directly with your phone. So, for example, you could click on a button in a Google Map on your PC and have it automatically open the same map -- complete with driving directions -- on your phone. Not too shabby.

Android Froyo: Cloud to Device Messaging

Will Android 2.2 look any different?

The Froyo interface isn't substantially different from the Android 2.1 UI, but there are a few small tweaks: The home screen gains a new permanent bottom-bar with links to the phone app and browser; that bar stays in place even as you switch from one home screen panel to another.

Android 2.2 Home Screen

If you're an Android newbie, Froyo has a new home screen tips widget that can help you learn the ins and outs of configuring your home screens.

Android 2.2. Unlock ScreenAnd the unlock screen in Android 2.2 gets a new twist: You'll be able to set it to have a numeric or alphanumeric PIN instead of just a swipe pattern, if you so choose.

How about some Bluetooth voice dialing already?

Ask, and ye shall receive: I'm happy to report, my fellow Android enthusiasts, that Android 2.2 will in fact support Bluetooth voice dialing. It'll also have added support for Bluetooth-enabled docking stations and better compatibility with car-based kits.

What's this talk about a new Web-based Android Market?

It isn't ready yet, but Google is working on an update to the Web-based Android Market that'll bring all sorts of new app options our way.

With Android 2.2 and the new Android Market, you'll be able to browse apps on your PC and then download them to your phone -- without ever plugging the phone in. The apps will be delivered over-the-air as soon as you complete the transaction.

Also in the works is a new music service that'll offer MP3 sales directly from the Web-based Android Market. The files will be automatically downloaded over-the-air to your phone with this feature, too.

Then there's the streaming: You'll eventually be able to stream any non-DRM music files from your PC to your Android phone. It'll be made possible with the help of software by Simplify Media, which Google revealed it had recently acquired for use within Android.

So far, there's no set date on the launch of any of these features.

Will Froyo do anything for my phone's camera?

Android 2.2 does have a few small improvements to the camera function, namely a set of new on-screen buttons that'll make it easier to zoom and adjust your settings without having to dig around. The camcorder gains an LED flash option for nighttime videos (you're welcome, Paris), and also new options for optimizing video size and quality for MMS or YouTube uploads.

Android Froyo Camera

On a related note, Android 2.2's Gallery app gets a nifty new feature that'll let you use a zoom gesture to look inside stacks of photos.

Anything new on the enterprise front in Android 2.2?

You'd better believe it, bucko. Android 2.2 boasts auto-account-discovery and calendar sync for Exchange, as well as beefed up enterprise security features such as remote wipe for administrators, minimum password settings, and lock-screen timeout. It'll also offer global address list look-up within the E-mail application, meaning users will be able to autocomplete names from a company's directory without having to mess with their personal contact lists.

Spiffy. So when will Android 2.2 come to my phone?

Early word is that the Froyo update will hit the Nexus One within the "next few weeks." The Motorola Droid (Milestone in India) is said to be scheduled for an update soon thereafter, allegedly in June. (Bear in mind, though -- especially Droid users -- past experience tells us that these target launch dates don't always work out as planned.)

HTC has indicated that most of its 2010-launched Android devices will be in line for a Froyo fix, likely sometime in the second half of the year. From the sounds of it, even the newly released Droid Incredible and soon-to-be-released EVO 4G will be on this same schedule.

For everyone else, it's a game of wait and see -- and, if you're a true Android fanboy, maybe salivate -- for the taste of Froyo.

ALSO READ

Don't be surprised to see video ads in your Instagram feed starting today

Instagram has been slooooowly phasing advertising into your main feed. First there were sponsored photos from brands like Michael Kors--artfully edited and filtered, of course. Now the photo-sharing app is introducing 15-second video ads, starting with a promo for Disney's new animated film, "Big Hero 6."

Facebook is betting big on the future and plans to lose money in the process

Another quarterly earnings report, another slam dunk for Facebook. The company made $3.2 billion in the third quarter, up 59 percent year-over-year, and grew to 1.35 billion monthly active users. More than 700 million people check Facebook on their phones every single day. These are impressive numbers. But Facebook is about to toy with the hearts and minds of investors, shareholders, and analysts by spending the next year investing heavily in its passion projects: WhatsApp, Oculus, and Internet.org.

Internet TV services would get a massive boost from FCC's proposed rule changes

A proposed rule change would prevent broadcast stations and cable operators from keeping their content locked up.

Cloth's revamped iOS app lets you peer into strangers' closets

Cher Horowitz wasn't just the loveable main character in the classic comedy Clueless--she was also a tech genius. The blonde Beverly Hills teen figured out that the best way to manage her extensive wardrobe was a computer program that did the heavy lifting of cataloging clothing items and recommending outfits. A few apps have tried to update Cher's virtual closet for the 21st century, but the newly relaunched iOS app Cloth may have just figured it out.

Reddit gets into crowdfunding with new Redditmade site

Got a favorite subreddit you visit every day? Pretty soon you may be able to purchase a t-shirt to show off your subreddit love.

Expert Opinion

instamatic-100357662-orig_500.jpg

Don't worry, be snappy: Stop complaining about your digital camera

When one has done something long enough (and, for the sake of this particular argument, let's say living can be reasonably counted among them) there's a tendency to take the long view--we have some notion of where we've been as well as how things are now. Recent complaints about the state of Apple and photography have compelled me to take a journey down the historical highway in the hope of gaining some perspective on just where we stand in regard to taking and making images with our cameras.

screen-shot-2014-07-17-at-17.29.11-100358369-orig_500.png

Why you should care about CloudKit

If you've lived through the last couple iterations of OS X and iOS, you've probably had the opportunity to develop a special love/hate relationship with iCloud. Apple's cloud service suite is made up of many different parts and systems, and while it's great when it works, it also has a history of being prone to hard-to-diagnose outages and, for developers, obscure error messages.

macosx-publicbeta-100357625-orig_500.png

With Yosemite public beta, Apple's more open than ever

Just a few years after a big leadership transition, Apple announced not only a brand new operating system but said they would be offering a public beta to interested customers. Sound familiar? The year was 2000 and the OS in question was the very first version of OS X. Now, 14 years later, Apple's once again inviting users to come and check out the Mac's latest and greatest operating system before its impending release.

wwdc14_homekit_honeywell-100308020-orig_500.png

Apple's HomeKit hub may already be in your house

At Apple's recent Worldwide Developers Conference, the company announced--among a great many other things--HomeKit, a suite of tools for controlling such devices in your home as thermostats, furnaces and air conditioners, smart appliances, lights, cameras, garage-door openers, and security systems. Apple will provide a platform that these devices will be asked to conform to. Do so, and you can control them all from your iOS device.

Editors Pick

justin_tv-100367814-orig_500.jpg

Justin.tv goes off the air

With all signs pointing to a Google purchase of Twitch, the company behind Justin.tv has shut down the live video service.

my_verizon_mobile-100367793-orig_500.png

Verizon fires back at FCC over data throttling

The FCC called out Verizon for its plans to throttle customers with unlimited data plans who use the most data, so the carrier responded.

wasteland2_1-100366521-orig_500.jpg

Wasteland 2 preview: When deeply branching gameplay meets pistol-packing post-apocalyptic priests

After a successful Kickstarter run, Wasteland 2 is almost ready for release

unionstreet_yelp-100366548-orig_500.png

Business faces backlash after threatening $500 fines for negative Yelp reviews

Businesses who don't know how to manage their social media presence should remember that the Internet can be vicious.

Latest Product Reviews

networkradar-100361188-orig_500.png

Network Radar: Mac app checks your network health

Apple's own Network Utility is pretty handy for basic network troubleshooting, but if you need to go above and beyond what it offers, Daniel Diener's $20 Network Radar (Mac App Store link) is a powerful step up.

asana-home-screen-iphone-100365003-orig_500.jpg

Asana: a full-featured task manager for iOS devices

The new mobile app for Asana's popular task management service lets iPhone and iPad users run their collaborative undertakings on the go.

macbook-pro-group2-100365552-orig_500.jpg

MacBook Pro (Mid 2014): Minor update offers slightly better CPU performance

Last week, Apple updated its Retina MacBook Pro line, and while the new models are identical on the outside to their 13- and 15-inch predecessors, released late last year, the "Mid 2014" models feature processors that are just a little bit faster. As modest as these internal improvements are, they do provide more performance bang for the buck.

contexts_prefs-100360658-large_500.png

Contexts: Make your OS X windows more manageable

Contexts 1.4 supplements--and can even replace--OS X's window management tools, and it does so in a way that is legitimately useful, especially if you rely on keyboard shortcuts to navigate your Mac.

ipad-portable-recording-studio-fig_8_mix_page_auria-100365044-orig_500.png

Keep it Reel: Record, mix, and release a professional recording on your iPad

The iPad has become an incredible tool for musicians who wish to quickly and confidently record and produce live music on their tablet. Recently, I had the opportunity to produce and record a session for Ella Joy Meir, using just my iPad, software, and recording accessories. Last week, I covered when you might want to use an iPad and what you need to get started; now, let's talk about the actual recording and post-production process.