First look at Google Android 2.2 Froyo


I’ve been playing around with Google Android 2.2 Froyo on my Nexus One for the last hour or so. While Google is slowly rolling out the over the air update to Nexus One users, there’s a way to download the update and install it manually if you’re the impatient type.

Overall, I like Froyo so far. Third party apps definitely feel a little faster. Fennec is actually pretty usable now, even though the mobile version of Firefox is still pre-Alpha software. And the ability to turn my phone into a portable WiFi hotspot is absolutely awesome — or it would be if I weren’t getting inconsistent 3G service today.

But if you were hoping Froyo would turn the Nexus One into a superphone, it won’t. The overall user interface isn’t any faster than it was with Android 2.1. Sure,the phone is still pretty zippy when flipping between home screens and opening the program launcher. But switching from one app to another isn’t any faster than it used to be. And every now and again you’ll find yourself waiting for the home screen to reappear for several seconds after you hit the home button.

Some of the changes are merely cosmetic. For instance, Google has removed the border that appears when you press and hold the home button to see the list of recently run apps. And when you enable debugging, the icon that appears in the notification area looks like an Android-bug instead of an exclamation point.

Other features just aren’t really widely available yet. When you open the Applications menu in the system settings, you’ll see an SD card option, because eventually you’ll be able to install apps to the SD card or move apps that are already installed on your phone’s main storage to the SD card. But we’re going to have to wait for developers to update their apps to support this feature before we can actually put apps on our SD cards.

The new web-based Android Market, which will allow you to install apps directly to your phone simply by clicking a button on your desktop web browser isn’t active yet.

But there are still some nice touches. The mobile version of the Android Market now has an “update all” button, which makes it much easier to keep all of your third party apps up to date. And there are now browser and phone buttons that hang out in a persistent dock that shows up at the bottom of every home screen — freeing up space for you to install widgets, shortcuts, and other icons on your home screen.

Support for Adobe Flash is a mixed bag. On the one hand, you can play some Flash video in the Android browser using Adobe Flash Player 10.1. And some Flash-based games, like Bookworm work as well. But for the most part, playback is a bit choppy and I found that some videos seemed to have audio issues — while I was watching choppy video of The Daily Show, it sounded like Jon Stewart was saying everything twice.

It’s very possible these Flash issues will be resolved in the future. Adobe Flash Player 10.1 for Android is still in beta, and the software doesn’t support hardware graphics acceleration yet — but future versions will.

You can check out my hands-on video with Google Android 2.2 Froyo on the Nexus One, and some screengrabs after the break.

Update: OK, I’m starting to notice a few problems with the new build — or at least with the way it interacts with third party apps. Google must have changed the way the Google Calendar app works, because I’ve noticed that several home screen calendar widgets I’ve used in the past no longer work properly . Smooth Calendar and Calendar Pad simply don’t show any upcoming appointments anymore.

I’ve also noticed that some streaming audio apps are broken. While Pandora still works, Android Online Radio has trouble streaming most online radio stations, and the NPR News app can play individual stories, but not live streams from public radio stations.

Froyo also turns eMobile Task Manager into a glorified task switcher. It can no longer actually terminate apps or services.

Have you had any problems with Android 2.2 Froyo and third party apps? Let us know in the comments.

Update 2: I’ve put together a second video which looks at more than 20 new features in Android 2.2.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since 2006. Brad has also worked with NPR, WHYY, PRI, and AOL.

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  • http://www.jonnylam.com Jonathan

    I actually get the Jon Stewart echo effect on my desktop browser not infrequently, so it might not be unique to Android's Flash player.

  • http://twitter.com/codedivine rahul garg

    Well, my understanding is that the speedups will occur within apps and not in the overall UI. The speedup quoted by Google is mostly due to their JIT compiler which will likely only kick in when running an app and only if the app is CPU bound to begin with. One thing I will be interested in whether you noticed any speedups in any games. Well, I guess since you are already running 2.2 providing comparison numbers with 2.1 will not be possible now?

  • http://twitter.com/codedivine rahul garg

    Well, my understanding is that the speedups will occur within apps and not in the overall UI. The speedup quoted by Google is mostly due to their JIT compiler which will likely only kick in when running an app and only if the app is CPU bound to begin with. One thing I will be interested in whether you noticed any speedups in any games. Well, I guess since you are already running 2.2 providing comparison numbers with 2.1 will not be possible now?

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