Google announces Android 2.2 Froyo
We will of course start with what we believe is the most important announcement from the event. The Android team has obviously put a lot of effort into improving the overall performance of the platform. This has been done through integrating a new JIT compiler (stands for Just In Time). No more sluggishness in Raging Thunder II! Or at least we hope so.
The other great improvement seems to be found in the Android browser, which will now render Java Script elements 2 to 3 times faster, thanks to getting some new code directly from the Chrome browser. Apparently, Google is patting itself on the back here for having the fastest mobile browser with Froyo, but we shouldn't forget that the update to that platform version is not out just yet, so we'd rather save such bold claims for later. (And still, it did look pretty fast on the demo.)
Of course, they didn't miss the occasion to mention that Flash Player 10.1 support is also coming along with Froyo. No new stuff was revealed though. However, Google demoed some new features that will be coming to the browser in the future. By the looks of it, developers will be able to create web content that will allow you to use your device's camera, accelerometer, digital compass and so on directly from the browser. It would be really interesting to see some quality creations utilizing this technologies.
Moving on to the next feature, it became clear that Android Market will also get its fair share of new stuff. Imagine the possibility of installing apps to the memory card! Well, it's finally here... kind of. Android will "intelligently" decide if an app should be installed to the main memory, or to your microSD card, based on the available free space on your phone, obviously. However, even if it decides to install an app to the main memory that you actually wished to install to your microSD, you'll have the option to move that app manually. If you ask us, a simple option of whether you want your apps installed to the main or additional memory would have been better. After all, Android should be about the user's personal choice, right?
A new feature that we are really glad to see in Android Market is the auto-update option. In addition to having a dedicated screen listing all the available updates for your apps, you will also have an auto-update option, which, if you allow it, will... well, automatically update your apps! Sounds good to us. By the way, Android Market's catalog of mobile programs (it's really overwhelming having to repeat "apps" all the time) now includes about 50,000 titles.
The Android team has also put some effort into improving the quality and diversity of advertisements that will show up on your phone's screen. Similarly to Apple's iAds (but seemingly not as impressive), the guys and gals at Google have worked it out how to show you lots of advertising without getting you out of your app. The most impressive kind of such an ad seems to be the expandable ad, which, upon the user's tap on it, will obviously expand and show more information, images and even video.
Android 2.2 will also sport some new enterprise-centric features, including better support for Microsoft Exchange, while some of the other goodies include tethering, mobile hotspot and a new app data backup API. What the latter does is to make it possible to transfer not only your apps, but also the data associated with them when you, for example, upgrade to a new Android phone and sign in with your existing Google account.
So, Android (and non-Android) users, what do you think of Google's Android 2.2 Froyo? Are you satisfied with the quantity and quality of the new features? Will you be waiting impatiently till it eventually hits your handset or will rush straight to the first Android 2.2 handset that becomes available? Sound off in the comments!