Froyo. Tart, Refreshing, and with a Web Browser faster than the iPad. Not to mention it's good for a healthy digestion.
Froyo is the confectionary moniker for Android's 2.2 release announced at this week's Google I/O (think a Revenge of the Nerds pep rally). Held inside the Moscone Center, in San Francisco, the same venue Apple showcases their latest and greatest, Google had their own showcase, presenting some compelling updates to their mobile OS.
Android 2.2, codenamed Froyo, is the seventh Android platform release, bringing much requested improvements and certain features targeted directly at disgruntled iPhone users. Though considered a minor release, Froyo packs a lot of calories:
- Moreness: Android Eclair supports up to three homescreen pages, though the Nexus One and HTC's Sense UI allows up to five. Froyo takes a little from both Nexus and Sense, with five pages, a new application window, and dedicated Phone/Browser buttons. There's even a friendly new Android Widget that greets you to show you how to use all this moreness.
- Flashiness: Android 2.2 will support Flash 10.1 with ease, and that's all I'm saying.
- Wirelessness: Froyo now lets your Android phone act as a wifi hotspot for tethering to your favorite devices (they used the old "use a mobile device hotspot to tether your iPad gag" during the I/O demo). As much as I love this feature, mobile carriers reserve the right to charge you extra, or to cripple tethering, but the option is great to have. Froyo also introduces a new OTA feature allowing you to install, automatically update, backup (with data), and restore applications from your PC browser. Google demoed visiting the online Marketplace, choosing a device from a dropdown, and then pushing a new app install on to his device. Music can also be purchased and pushed to your device from an assumed Amazon MP3 store integration into the Marketplace.
- iTunesyness: iPhone users were enjoying a certain service called Simplify Media, giving iPhone users wireless access to their (non-DRM'd) home iTunes Library. Google thought Android users needed this more, so they bought it and have converted it into a Froyo feature. Of all the wireless iTunes streamers, Simplify Media was the best, and now it belongs to Android.
- Featureness: When Apple introduced push notifications, they meant it to be a temporary alternative to multitasking. Android already multitasks, but sweetens the deal with a cloud to device messaging framework, allowing for such awesomeness like sending a link from your Chrome browser to your Android phone's browser with a click of a button. Speaking of the Android browser, web apps now have access to certain hardware bits like the camera, compass orientation, and speech-to-text.
I never had so much fun watching a keynote before. Google Developers don't often get to be in the spotlight, but when they do, it's a blend of awkward comedy, exciting innovation, and a little bit of braggers' rights. Google is also becoming the king of schwag, giving away Sprint's new HTC Evo to each of the 5000 I/O attendees, which makes the $500 registration fee a pretty good investment.