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  5. Android FroYo: the new Google update explained

Android FroYo: the new Google update explained

Android FroYo: the new Google update explained

Android 2.2, or FroYo to give it it’s Big G codename, is official. But what does this new upgrade mean? Will it turn your Android phone into even more of an iPhone-battering powerhouse? And how soon will you be able to get it? What’s more, are all these updates getting a tad confusing for Joe Public? Dive in now and we’ll explain everything you need to know about Android 2.2 FroYo.

What is it?

Android FroYo is the latest upgrade for Google’s increasingly powerful mobile operating system. Rather than a big-time overhaul, like Android 2.0 which appeared back in October 2009, this is meant to be a small tweak to proceedings and boosting your Android phone's performance ahead of a more wide-ranging update which is due to land later this year (of which more later).

What can it do?

Google itself describes Android 2.2 as a “minor platform release” but you really wouldn’t know it what with the frenzied press coverage afforded the update. The big deal is undoubtedly the inclusion of Adobe Flash 10.1, which has been bigged-up massively, with Google showing off what it can do the minute you upgrade the software, via a list of sites using the software immediately accessible. This is the Apple-bashing headline-grabber, but there’s also a new tips widget on how to customise your front page and better security in Microsoft Exchange.

Tethering is also landing on the Google Nexus One thanks to FroYo, so you can use your phone as a web hotspot for up to eight devices. Unlike the iPhone, this won’t cost extra. However, Google’s developer pages suggest this is a Linux and Windows party only for now, with Macs left out in the cold.

Also included are multilingual keyboards, tweaked browser performance and LED flash support for video recording, bringing Android’s somewhat lacklustre camcorder skills up to scratch.

google nexus one large

What phones will be getting it?

The Nexus One has already started to get FroYo and HTC has confirmed that the HTC Desire and its other top-line Android phones will be getting the update ‘later this year’. It has said though that this will be restricted to its newest handsets, meaning the likes of the HTC Hero could be left out in the cold. Expect the Motorola Milestone to also play nice. A new phone, the HTC Vision, is also being mooted to come with it.

How long before the next update?

Not long at all. Android 3.0, codenamed Gingerbread, is set to rock up before the year’s out. This will be a more wide-ranging update, aimed at putting iPhone OS 4.0 and Windows Phone 7 on the back foot and stealing the headlines in the run up to the busy Christmas period.

Isn’t this all a bit much?

In some ways, yes. Average punters might not know about all these updates. But from a business and media point of view, Google is being smart. Regular updates, as opposed to Apple’s annual iPhone bump, means Android evolves swiftly and doesn’t change in one big yearly update that takes an age to install. This way, Google can ensure it consolidates its growing position in the smartphone space.

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