Android 2.2 Review: A Deep, Delicious Dive Into Froyo

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Conclusion



If you have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to unfold, trying to decide between one of the many great Android phones out there, the Apple iPhone 4, one of Palm's WebOS-based devices or a BlackBerry, there's really no need to wait any longer. iOS 4 has just hit the market, BlackBerry OS 6 won't be out for a few months, and Windows Phone 7 remains an unknown. But Android 2.2 is available now (at least on the Nexus One), and it's a winner through and through.


We touched on iOS 4 in large parts of our iPhone 4 review, but we can safely say that Android 2.2 offers just as much, if not more, for your money. Multi-tasking in Froyo has become even smoother and better integrated, and unlike iOS 4--which doesn't allow some background processes to continue while other apps are in the foreground, and requires app developers to revise their apps just to support multi-tasking--it's native within Google's OS. Things "just work" in the background, and even with 10+ applications loaded or processing in the background, we were never able to slow our Nexus One. Android 2.2 handles multi-tasking very well, and we were very pleased at the speed increases when running multiple apps in Android 2.2, as compared to 2.1.

There's also the addition of Tethering; USB Tethering works perfectly on Windows and Linux systems (OS X support has yet to be added), and a one-click process enables Portable Wi-Fi Tethering. This turns your Android 2.2 phone into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, enabling a handful of Wi-Fi devices to connect to your data connection anywhere. In our testing, it worked perfectly on AT&T, and while we're being cautious to not overuse it and cause any issues with billing, it's an excellent feature to have in your back pocket. Literally.


The new UI tweaks (adding a Phone and Web Browser soft icon beside the application grid) make the OS a lot more usable, and the full list of changes all work to better the user experience. The improvement in Browser speed is certainly notable, and while we previously said that Mobile Safari offered the best mobile browsing experience in the business, the performance increases and addition of Flash support in Android 2.2 have forced us to change our minds. The new Android browser is super quick, powerful and able to handle Flash videos and Web sites. How can you beat that? In the mobile realm, you simply can't at this moment in time.


The biggest problem with Android 2.2 is that it's not available everywhere just yet. As of now, Google is only officially pushing Froyo to Nexus One phones on T-Mobile and AT&T. Being that it's the one and only Google-phone, that makes sense. But the update will be pushed to the EVO 4G, DROID, DROID Incredible, DROID X, and most of the other "high-end" (think 800MHz or above) Android phones in short order. But if you've been holding out on buying a new smartphone, the early availability of Android updates is reason alone to opt for a Nexus One over something else, if you can do without the large screens and faster processors of other, more expensive devices. You can reasonably expect the next point release of Android (and even Android 3.0) to reach the Nexus One weeks, if not months, before any other carrier's Android-based phones.


Outside of the fact that we wish it were available on more phones right now, we really can't find much of anything to complain about. All of the changes in the free Android 2.2 were positive ones, and none of them added any noticeable issues to the system. In fact, our in-house Nexus One felt faster in every respect post-update. Android has taken a huge leap with 2.2, and we would argue that it has once again leapfrogged many of the features in iOS 4. Portable Wi-Fi Hostpot and Flash support in the browser are two huge reasons to choose Android over iOS 4, and while both mobile systems are robust, we'd give the edge right now to Android 2.2. If you aren't locked into Apple's App Store universe yet and enjoy tweaking your mobile in an almost completely open system, Andriod is where it's at.

 

 

  • Improved Performance
  • Flash Support
  • UI Usability Improvements
  • Easy App Updating
  • Enhanced Browsing
  • USB and WiFi Tethering
  • Not Widely Available On All Android-Based Phones
  • Mobile WiFi HotSpot Drains Battery Quickly

 


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