Android 2.2 Announced at Google I/O

Today, at Google’s annual I/O conference, the spotlight was on the Android OS and specifically the new release called ‘Froyo’.  The 2.2 release of Android will feature many new items that make it a great platform for phone users and app developers.  Let’s run down them one by one.

Enterprise Support

With 2.2, Android will be more business-friendly.  Exchange is supposed to be supported more fluently, including access to corporate phone directories and even remote wipe capabilities just in case the phone is lost/stolen.

Speed Improvements

By introducing a just-in-time compiler and increasing Javascript performance in the browser, Android 2.2 will be up to 5x faster than 2.1.

Adobe Flash and AIR support

Adobe will have great support with Android, including Flash player 10.1.  Why is this important?  Online video!  Many video formats online (including most on Youtube) use Flash to deliver this content.  Also, the iPhone does NOT support Flash, and having it will separate Android from the pack.

Tethering and Mobile Hotspot

With Android 2.2, you can easily turn your phone into a hotspot and therefore use the 3G connection from your mobile carrier to surf the Internet from any device that has wi-fi.  This is a very cool feature!  Let’s see how many carriers are friendly towards it.

Guessing Your Intent

Android 2.1 has had voice recognition for a while now, which means you can speak into any text entry field and avoid having to type your commands.  With 2.2, Google is taking this a bit further and guessing your intent by what you say.  In the demo, the person said “call upper floor restaurant” and the phone automatically looked up the number and dialed it.

Cloud Messaging

Kind of like Push Notifications, Google has enabled secure messaging to the handset.  These messages can be made to do just about anything.  The demo on screen was a use case where the user was looking at a map in Google Maps and automatically sent the route to their phone.  The Android 2.2 phone immediately launched Maps and started navigation, without any steps by the user.

The possibilities here are endless.  Imagine being able to send a draft email to your phone in progress or continue reading a web article on-the-go after reading 1/2 of it on your desktop computer.

Updating Apps, Easily

One nag with Android is that you have to update each app one at a time, which can be annoying if you have 4-5 apps that have updates.  Google has taken two steps to alleviate this problem.  First, you can enable automatic updates that requires no further interaction afterward.  Also, Google will implement an “update all” button to run all app updates with one step.

Android Market

First of all, Google will make the Android much more friendly to the desktop web.  Through a browser, we’ll be able to see apps and comments.  Also, we can install and update apps to our Android phones over the air, which is an awesome step.

In Conclusion

As you can see, Google has made 2.2 a very attractive package for both users of Android 2.2 and mobile developers looking to the platform.  They have taken many steps to differentiate themselves from Apple and are building a more open system where developers have choice.  This is a very welcome addition to the mobile marketplace.