Google Unveils Android OS 2.2 – Will It Be A Threat To iPhone OS 4.0?

Android OS 2.2 released

Google unveiled its next generation Android operating system at the I/O Conference yesterday. The new Android OS 2.2, dubbed Froyo, brings several new features to the Android platform.

Folks at Engadget have published a hands-on report on all the new features that have been included in the latest OS. 

Here is list of some of the enhancements in the new version:

Flash Player 10.1:

Adobe has released a beta version of Flash 10.1 for Android 2.2, which makes it one of the most significant features if you consider the war of words between Apple and Adobe. However, it still seems to be early days as based on Engadget's initial observations, which seems to be in line with Steve Jobs Thoughts on Flash:

"We have to say, it's really something to have a mobile browser that doesn't pop up little cubes with question marks all over the web, but we found that rediscovering Flash was much like reuniting with a high school friend; at first you've so much to catch up on, but then you realize how far you've grown apart. Adobe's pre-vetted list of Flash-enabled sites do a good job of showing off the technology, but we still can't help but think the interactive elements still have a lot of catching up to do. As for video, the stream is good quality but gets fairly choppy — especially when you check out something "not optimized for mobile viewing." Some of the HTML5 footage we've seen via the same device shows up in crisper detail and fluidity. Battery and heat are also of concern: the pre-release beta we have, according to Adobe, lacks hardware acceleration. Ergo, our beloved handset got piping hot after about 30 minutes of heavy video watching, and the battery indicator in the upper right had a sizable dent."

Tethering & Portable Hotspot: 

Android OS 2.2 brings USB tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality to Android based smartphones. This will let users access internet on their laptop using their smartphone's data connection. The Wi-Fi hotspot functionality is probably one of the killer features of Android OS 2.2.

Android OS 2.2 released

Google Search Bar: 

Another minor change in the home screen is on the Google search bar, which now lets you search specifically within apps, contacts and the web.

Android OS 2.2 released

YouTube HQ: 

Froyo now allows users to watch YouTube videos in higher quality (HQ) mode. However, Engadget notes that the initial tests did not reveal significant improvements in video quality. 

Android OS 2.2 released

Modified Navigation Bar: 

The new Android home screen incorporates a new look navigation bar. The navigation bar includes shortcuts to both the phone and web browser.

Revamped Car Dock: 

The car dock interface on Froyo has been slighly modified to bring shortcuts to music and lighting adjustment to the dock screen.

Besides these, there are also minor interface level changes incorporated to Camera, Gmail and Calendar applications. Also, with Android handsets becoming popular in the non-English speaking world, the new OS has incorporated voice recognition settings for more dialects and languages. 

Google claims that the most important improvement on Froyo over earlier versions of Android OS is in the performance. In order to exhibit the superiority of Android 2.2 over Android 2.1 and iPhone OS 3.2, Google gave a live demo of a web application running simultaneously on the three platforms. All the three platforms ran on a 1GHz processor. Not surprisingly, the app runs much faster on Android 2.2 (far left in the video) as compared to Android 2.1 and iPad (far right). It will be interesting to see the performance of the web application on the next generation iPhone running iPhone OS 4.0.

What are your impressions about the new Android OS? Do you think it will be a threat to iPhone OS 4.0? Let us know in the comments. 

[via Engadget, TechCrunch]