Got a Google Nexus One? Then today’s the day you’ve been waiting for. Android 2.2, known by those in-the-loop as FroYo, is officially rolling out to the Big G-backed handset, with new enhanced features to make the ultimate vanilla Android blower sing anew.
The timing of the release cannot be coincidental. With the iPhone 4 having sold 1.7 million units by Saturday past, Apple has done an astounding job in pushing Android off the news agenda completely. And that’s not even including the ludicrous antenna oversight which has caused so much consternation among first adopters. So, Google evidently wants and needs to hit back with something cool and clever.
FroYo is both those things. It offers enhanced tethering skills to turn Android phones into MiFis, beefed-up Microsoft Exchange support, a homescreen tips widget, LED flash support for camcorders (a feature that’s never hit the heights with Google’s phones) and a much better camera interface.
These are all extras that push Android right up against iOS 4 and the iPhone 4 in particular. There’s no doubting that it makes the Nexus One a more than viable alternative to Apple’s effort.
But there’s one real snag with Android 2.2 that a release timed this well cannot hide: the roll-out is being staggered, with no word on when the next set of Android 2.2 updates are coming. HTC Hero owners will know from bitter personal experience that skinned Android phones can’t be tweaked that easily.
That means HTC’s current line up, the Desire, Legend and Wildfire, will likely have to sit tight with Android 2.1 for a while. That’s poor form considering the iPhone 4 is pulling away from the crowd.
The opportunity to keep up is there, but it’s going to take a miracle to get these phones ready in a matter of weeks. So what other smarties should get Android 2.2 soon? Well, the Motorola Milestone XT720 isn’t skinned, therefore suggesting an update to 2.2 should be coming within its first few weeks on sale. Similarly, the original Milestone should be primed for some FroYo love in the not-too-distant future.
Perhaps in future, though, updates to Google’s phones need to be better coordinated. The blessing, and curse, of Android, is that multiple manufacturers are able to tickle the software and create new and interesting takes on its basic brilliance. But that means frustration for the end user when one person can get an update almost instantly and the other is forced to wait for the skin on his phone to be compatible.
Google’s attempts to fire back at the iPhone 4 this week should be lauded. FroYo is, after all, a cracking effort. But maybe when it comes to Android 3.0’s release, it can make a more concerted effort among Open Handset Alliance members to pull together and push it out at the same time. Wishful thinking, maybe, but the only way we’re going to see them land a big old punch on Apple.
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