Google unveils 10 huge improvements in 'FroYo,' Android 2.2

At Google I/O this morning, the topic of discussion was mobile; specifically, the Android mobile platform. As of this morning, there are more than 60 consumer devices running on Android, more than 100,000 new activations per day, 50,000 apps in the Android marketplace, and 180,000 registered developers working on apps. Not too shabby.

As the platform continues its rapid growth, Google has announced a number of very significant improvements will be coming to the next version, numbered 2.2 but nicknamed "FroYo," which address key issues Android has dealt with in the past.

1) Improved Speed -- Just as it was rumored, the next version of Android will have a JIT compiler, responsible for a significant (2x-5x) speed boost.

2) Better Enterprise Support -- The platform has lagged behind Windows Mobile and BlackBerry in terms of enterprise functionality, but FroYo will include over 20 new enterprise features. These include better Exchange support, with auto-discovery, improved security, and GAL lookup, and new device admin APIs.

3) Cloud-to-Device API -- Google services, Chrome extensions, and soon-to-be released Chrome apps will be able to sync with your Android device. If you need directions from Google Maps, it can be sent directly.

4) Tethering -- This was also a rumored feature for a few weeks. The feature will be in the "settings" menu, and clicking "portable wi-fi hotspot."

5) New Browser -- The Javascript interpreter in Chrome will be used in FroYo's native browser, offering a 2x-3x Javascript performance boost. Google's Vic Gundotra said it will be the fastest mobile browser available.

6) Install apps on SD memory -- One of the main problems people had with Android was that you could not install apps on your removable memory card, you were limited to the device's physical memory, which in some cases was quite limited. In FroYo, apps can be moved to, and launched from, the phone's SD card.

7) Flash 10.1 and AIR support -- This one is not a surprise, as Adobe and Google have both said this would be coming.

8) Web-based Android Market -- Without a doubt one of the weakest aspects of consuming apps on the Android Platform was that you were limited to only seeing what was shown on your mobile device's screen, which in most cases is not very appealing.

9) App auto-updating -- When an app you downloaded gets updated, you would get a notification that there was an update available in the Market. You'd have to navigate to the market and click OK three or four times per update just to get it installed. In FroYo, there will be an "Update All" icon, and the ability to check "allow automatic updating" when you download a new app. Apps can be purchased on the Web-based store and synced down to your Android device.

10) Music Sync -- Even though it's got a decent media player, Android devices have never had the music power that iPhone has with its built-in iPod functionality. With FroYo, however, users will be able to sync their local music collection with their Android device and stream wirelessly.

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