Android 2.2 Makes Good on Promises for Tethering, Speed, and More
Google today announced Android 2.2, the newest version of its popular smartphone operating system, whose total users recently surpassed those of the iPhone.
Phones running Android 2.2 will be measurably faster, download apps wirelessly and turn some phones into a WiFi hotspots for up to eight neighboring devices. The update will first be made available to Motorola Droid and Google Nexus One users in June.
At the second and final day of Google's developer conference , Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering laid the groundwork for the announcement with the latest Android statistics:
• 100,000 new Android handset activations daily
• Smartphone sales second only to RIM, BlackBerry manufacturer
• More than a billion miles have been navigated with Android's free turn-by-turn directions
• There are now more than 50,000 apps available for Android phones
Gundotra demonstrated Android 2.2 capabilities on a Google Nexus One , referring to the system as Froyo (Android 2.2's nickname that refers to frozen yogurt, the fifth in a series of treats preceded by Android versions Éclair, Donut and Cupcake).
According to Gundotra, Froyo is much faster than Android 2.1 and includes 20 new features designed to help business users, including support for Microsoft Exchange . "We think Froyo has the fastest mobile browser―an accomplishment we are extremely proud of," he said.
He confirmed Android will now be able to be used as a wireless modem, a function called "tethering." Using a USB connection, an Android 2.2 phone can supply an Internet connection to a computer. "You should be able at the platform level to enable tethering," he said.
Android 2.2 also includes improved real time voice search, the ability to download apps from the Android Marketplace directly to the phone without a connection to a computer, and support for Adobe's Flash Player 10.1 public beta.
"It turns out, on the Internet people use Flash," Gundotra said, referring to Apple's refusal to support flash. "Working with other companies is much nicer than just saying no."
Gundorta says there are much bigger things in store for the Android OS. Next version: Android 3.0, codename Gingerbread, scheduled for fourth quarter of this year.
"What's coming next is the ability to understand human intentions," he said.
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