Google I/O Android 2.2 ?Froyo? Developments

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Today during day two of the Google I/O conference the first hour of the keynote was primarily focused on android 2.2 “Froyo”, take a look at what is in store for the future of Google’s mobile OS!

Today during day two of the Google I/O conference the first hour of the keynote was primarily focused on Android. There were two main reasons Google decided to develop Android. First they believed it was critically important to provide an open source mobile operating system that would enable innovation at every level of the stack. Second if Google did not act, we faced a draconian future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be the only choice. I wonder who they were talking about!?!?! This keynote was informative and entertaining mostly at the expense of Apple but hey when you have your hand in 30% of everyone’s cookie jar, you can afford those expenses.

Android is now available on 60 compatible devices made by 21 OEMs, sold in 48 countries operating on 59 carriers worldwide. Currently there are over 100,000 daily activations of Android based handsets making it 2nd in Smartphone sales only to rim and surpassing Apple to become 1st in app usage. 1 billion miles have been navigated from 6 months ago when Google maps introduced navigation to the Android platform and there are now over 50,000 applications from 180,000 developers. So with all that knowledge about Android and how it is evolving as a platform let?s get to the fun stuff. What are they adding to the next update?

Google chose 5 major areas of investment in android 2.2 “Froyo” the first of which being speed. Using the Dalvik virtual machine, Google can maintain compatibility for all apps on any future phones using newer processors. The key thing about Dalvik virtual machine is it is fast and that is why Google chose to use it. They also use the Dalvik JIT compiler delivering between a 2X-5X performance improvement for apps and games.

The second major area of investment is new enterprise capabilities with over 20 new enterprise features. The first being the announcement of Microsoft Exchange capabilities. They also announced device admin APIs allowing “developers to write applications that can control security features of the device such as the remote wipe, minimum password, lockscreen timeout etc.” Too bad there wasn’t any information on Outlook Sync capabilities, which is a big area of complaints and concern for current users.

The third area of investment was the browser. Google made the browser Faster and more powerful by bringing the V8 JavaScript engine from chrome to the Android browser. Touting “This has resulted in a 2-3X improvement in JavaScript performance vs. 2.1.”, Google demonstrated this by testing sunspider javascript test between the “Froyo” 2.2 build, “Eclair” 2.1 and an iPad side by side. There was a definite performance difference between the three with “Froyo” 2.2 surpassing both other platforms and browsers. Google went on to explain their investment in future standards such as html5 and went further to include their own ideas for web development allowing orientation, camera and microphone from the handset to be used. Using Google maps they demonstrated the orientation feature being accessed from a web application.

The fourth area of investment was the SDK and associated APIs and services. There were some really awesome things in this area such as application data backup which keeps application data for transfer to new handsets. This comes in handy because currently if you purchase a new handset, when you access the Android marketplace your applications will install on your new handset but now the information contained within the applications can be transferred to the new handset as well is so written by the developer. There is a cloud messaging API and in explaining this Google took another slight jab at Apple explaining they didn’t build this “push notification type system” for lack of multitasking. Going on to demonstrate with Google chrome a user on Google maps sending the map to his Android device but it wasn’t a test or an e-mail, Google maps opened remotely on the Android device. In a second demonstration they showed a website being opened remotely via the Chrome web browser. The Android 2.2 platform will enable tethering and portable hotspot again taking a jab at Apple and demonstrating by tethering an iPad. The voice recognition software embedded in Android has been enhances as well, I saw a mobile device understand a man say “pictures of Barack Obama with the French president of the g 8 summit” in less than 5 seconds! Support for flash 10.1 and adobe air was also announced.

The fifth and final area of investment was in marketplace enhancements. Search capability makes finding apps easier as well as data within apps giving you access to all your information from a single search point. The ability to move apps to an SD card while keeping the app secure for developers received a large applause from the audience. An update all button allows the user to update all apps that have updates available and an auto update feature is enabled by the user filling a checkbox on the app in the marketplace. Anytime an app crashes the user now has a choice to send feedback, view feedback being sent and see all feedback sent via Android marketplace website. This will make it easier for developers to find and fix bugs. Speaking of the Android marketplace website that was announced as well, you can install apps remotely from your PC to your Android mobile device. Another category was added to the marketplace, music also downloads to phone remotely from pc via android marketplace. They haven’t forgotten about all of the music currently on your PC, Google acquired simplified media and through this acquisition they enabled streaming of music from home PC to your Android device via program on your PC and app on your mobile device freeing up space on your phone.

The advertising enhancements seemed like a 6th area of investment but falls under the marketplace enhancements. Adsense for mobile apps gives developers access to Google?s bountiful advertisers in multiple ways. They demonstrated the advertising choices and I count them to be very smooth, much like the Apple advertising Steve Jobs introduced at his keynote. Below is a list of the different types of advertisements they offered developers access to.

  • Text based using context in app
  • Banner image
  • Expandable image
  • Expandable video
  • Click to call for special offers
  • Expandable w/ map, directions and click to call
  • Full screen immersive app via doubleclick so it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Google add

At the end of the Android hour of the keynote Google announced everyone at the Google I/O conference will be given an HTC Sprint EVO. Damn I need to sign up for next year?s Google I/O conference!

Watch the Google I/O Android Keynote
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