Yesterday I wrote a post about day one of Google’s I/O conference, an annual event held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and we here at Protocol 80 somewhat lamented the fact that there weren’t many show-stopping announcements. Fortunately Google unveiled a second wave of product demos today, and this time the two hour event bore some hotly-anticipated fruit.
First and foremost for anyone using an Android-based phone was a sneak peak of version 2.2 of their mobile operating system. Codenamed “Froyo,” 2.2 will offer a slew of new enhancements and features including:
- A 2x to 5x application speed increase
- New features for enterprise customers including Microsoft Exchange integration and Device Admin APIs
- Cloud-to-Device APIs which can send information (driving directions, for example) straight to your phone from the web
- Support for device tethering and the ability to use your phone as a mobile wifi hotspot
That last item I’m going to touch on in a little more detail because the latest version of Google’s mobile browser has seen a lot of updates. I’ve already mentioned that it has been built off of elements from the Google Chrome browser, but it’s also seeing some other cool enhancements such as the ability to accept inputs from a phone’s various hardware components. With Froyo you won’t be limited to using your location, accelerometer or camera-based services in software applications, they now work right in the web browser as well. This sort of power gives web application developers a huge suite of tools to work with in future projects.
Additionally the browser in 2.2 will see some new tricks with voice integration. In the demo, Vic Gundotra showed examples of producing highly-targeted search results simply by entering voice queries via the browser. In another stunning demo, Google’s Translate service was able to translate spoken English into French text, and then Froyo uses text-to-speech to play the French statement back.
Finally, Google has made some extensive updates to the way users can find, purchase and interact with their applications and data. One benefit that many Android-based phones have over competitors like the iPhone is removable storage, such as SD cards. Now you can backup your apps directly to an SD card, or even run them straight from the card itself without having to use up space on your device. Another key feature to the Android marketplace is the ability to automatically update all of the apps on your phone in one fell swoop. They’ve also implemented a system for application error reporting, so developers can quickly fix problems with their applications and provide the best possible user experience to their customers. The last and possibly most-significant enhancement to the marketplace is a new web client which will give users access to their Android devices and automatically sync new apps to them over-the-air. This functionality isn’t limited to the Android Marketplace, however - you’ll even be able to sync all local music to your phone. Pretty cool!
Phew, that was a lot, and those were only the Android 2.2 announcements! It’s clear that there has never been a better time to be an Android OS phone owner, and we’re looking forward to the release of Android 2.2 Froyo later this year.