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.

Settings & UI Tweaks
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  • SmCaudata - Friday, June 25, 2010 - link

    "...Froyo still lacks the overall smoothness and responsiveness of Apple's iOS. "

    I have an iPod touch and the thing lags and such all the time. They try to use animations to make it seem smooth, but it certainly isn't perfect. Granted it is an original touch, but from day one the thing would lag on me. I get delays adjusting settings. Delays launching the music player, etc... It is tolerable, but certainly not perfect.

    Why does Apple always get a free pass?
    Reply
  • ChronoReverse - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    Apple always gets a free pass it seems =/

    At least you can fix many of these niggling factors. I'm using LauncherPro for instance so I don't get lag in the home screens for instance. Live wallpapers will obviously slow things down but they're also optional. Instead of the stock keyboard, I'm using the Swype beta and it works wonderfully (after an initial bout of training).

    Then there's other neat stuff like Navigation and Voice Searching that works rather well.
    Reply
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  • droidfan - Monday, July 19, 2010 - link

    How could you say 2.2 isn't groundbreaking?

    1. Flash implementation, full web browsing capabilities on any website now.

    2. JIT compiler, making the processor 250% faster and more efficient.

    How are these not groundbreaking?
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