A Taste of Froyo: Google Android 2.2 Exploredby Saumitra Bhagwat on June 23, 2010 1:03 AM EST
Since last year, the Android platform has seen a string of sugary, feature-filled updates starting with Cupcake (v1.5), followed by Donut (v1.6) and finally Éclair (v2.0/2.1) in November 2009. Each release has effectively addressed bugs and has introduced several new features like UI tweaks, Exchange support, HTML5 support and so on. Android v2.2 continues the tradition of the confectionary-themed nomenclature and is codenamed “Froyo”; short for Frozen Yogurt if you didn't know. The new features and improvements in Froyo aren’t exactly groundbreaking by themselves, but in the grand scheme of things, they’ve made Android an extremely refined, usable and robust OS that is a real alternative to other mobile operating systems out today. Couple this with manufacturers like HTC churning out some seriously capable hardware and you’ve got the best version of Android to date. Read on for the full review!
Playing the Waiting Game
Android 2.2 isn't officially available on any device today. The only things floating around are leaked builds that aren't final. The closest you can get is the leaked Android 2.2 build available for the Google Nexus One on T-Mobile. It is feature complete and polished enough to upgrade as if it were final. Even AT&T Nexus One users don't have a simple path to upgrading yet - without rooting. In the coming months we expect to see the major Android devices get 2.2 (e.g. the Nexus One and the Motorola Droid) while towards the end of the year HTC users will finally be able to jump on board.
This staggered deployment is an unfortunate side effect of Google's Android customization strategy that allows handset vendors to ship with their own customized versions of the OS. While that's great for differentiation, it also means that there will be an inevitable delay between when a major OS revision is released and when it'll be implemented across the board. That being said, it is part of the Android appeal.
We already have more than one smartphone device/OS vendor that favors the our way or the highway approach, we don't need another. Competitors don't compete by doing the exact same thing, they make us happy by giving us options or alternatives.
With that said, let's get to what's new in Froyo. If you aren't familiar with Android, take a look at our Nexus One Review.
The Home Screen
The first thing you’ll notice on the home screen is the new translucent navigation bar that lets you access the dialer, app tray and browser. The new UI is clean, crisp and helps distinguish Froyo from other versions of Android easily.
Google’s added two new widgets; the new helper widget provides handy tips to manage your home screen while the app market widget displays a slideshow of popular apps in the Android market. The Google search bar has undergone some modification and now lets you search the web, contacts or apps. The YouTube widget has been given a slight facelift and now shows previews of the most viewed videos. Froyo does not include any new wallpapers or sounds, so that’s about it for the new stuff on the home screen.