Different Android users have had very different experiences with their mobile platform. This is because some Android devices don't support the latest version of the mobile platform, or the company that makes their handset doesn't offer Android 2.2 (also known as Froyo) yet. When your phone does get the latest and greatest version of Android, some of the new features are pretty mind-blowing. Here's an overview of what's new in Froyo.
Bluetooth voice dialingWith a Bluetooth device paired with your phone, you will be able to do hands-free voice dialing. I've tested this feature, and it works like a charm. You just press the button on your Bluetooth earpiece (some Bluetooth devices require a long press) and then speak the name you want to call. It works every time, and it works well — the voice recognition is far superior to that of the iPhone. Figure A shows this in action. Figure A
Cloud to device messaging
With the cloud to device messaging, you can send applications, videos, messages, and more directly to other Android phones. This is just the beginning of some really cool features coming to the Android platform.
Flash is not installed by default, but you can now go to the Android Market and install Flash from there. Once it's installed, Flash content will render like a champ on the mobile browser.
Install to SD card
If your phone doesn't have enough space for all of the applications you want to install, it's not a problem with Android 2.2 because you can install applications directly to the SD card. This feature has to be built into the actual application to enable it to be installed either on the phone or the SD card. The majority of applications have yet to enjoy this feature, but newer applications do and (I'm sure) many old applications will have the feature added in updates.
Search barThe Android search bar has been improved. With Android 2.2, there is a drop-down that allows you to search Google, anywhere else on the web, apps, tweets, messages, your calendar, and just about anything else that is on your phone. From the Search settings, you can add or remove what you want to be able to search. Figure B shows the updated search bar in action. Figure B
Thanks to a much-improved compiler, the Android developers have promised anywhere from a 2x to 5x increase in speed compared to previous releases. In testing an HTC EVO with both Android 2.1 and Android 2.2, I did notice a slight increase in speed on the device; although the majority of this increase was more obvious in application/screen transition, as well as application opening/closing.
Update All allows you to update all applications (if there is an update available) at once. This very nice feature will save you the time of having to update each application, one by one.
By default, Wi-Fi tethering is built into Froyo; this will give your phone the ability to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Whether you will actually be able to tether depends on your carrier — some carriers allow tethering and some do not.
There are plenty of other updates to Froyo such as the following:
- Numerous updated camera features.
- Updated Car Panel design.
- Updated Gmail app to include Previous/Next buttons when reading email.
Have you tried Froyo?
The Droid Incredible (Verizon) and some HTC phones in China are now shipping with Froyo, and some phones are starting to get upgrades to Froyo. Have you experienced the deliciousness of Froyo yet? If so, share your experiences with your fellow TechRepublic readers.
Also, what features would you like to see in upcoming Android releases?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.