Google Android 2.2: Questions and Answers

Will Android 2.2 look any different?

The Froyo interface isn't substantially different from the Android 2.1 UI, but there are a few small tweaks: The home screen gains a new permanent bottom-bar with links to the phone app and browser; that bar stays in place even as you switch from one home screen panel to another.

Android 2.2 Home Screen

If you're an Android newbie, Froyo has a new home screen tips widget that can help you learn the ins and outs of configuring your home screens.

Android 2.2. Unlock Screen
And the unlock screen in Android 2.2 gets a new twist: You'll be able to set it to have a numeric or alphanumeric PIN instead of just a swipe pattern, if you so choose.

How about some Bluetooth voice dialing already?

Ask, and ye shall receive: I'm happy to report, my fellow Android enthusiasts, that Android 2.2 will in fact support Bluetooth voice dialing. It'll also have added support for Bluetooth-enabled docking stations and better compatibility with car-based kits.

What's this talk about a new Web-based Android Market?

Android Market
It isn't ready yet, but Google is working on an update to the Web-based Android Market that'll bring all sorts of new app options our way.

With Android 2.2 and the new Android Market, you'll be able to browse apps on your PC and then download them to your phone -- without ever plugging the phone in. The apps will be delivered over-the-air as soon as you complete the transaction.

Also in the works is a new music service that'll offer MP3 sales directly from the Web-based Android Market. The files will be automatically downloaded over-the-air to your phone with this feature, too.

Then there's the streaming: You'll eventually be able to stream any non-DRM music files from your PC to your Android phone. It'll be made possible with the help of software by Simplify Media, which Google revealed it had recently acquired for use within Android.

So far, there's no set date on the launch of any of these features.

Will Froyo do anything for my phone's camera?

Android 2.2 does have a few small improvements to the camera function, namely a set of new on-screen buttons that'll make it easier to zoom and adjust your settings without having to dig around. The camcorder gains an LED flash option for nighttime videos (you're welcome, Paris), and also new options for optimizing video size and quality for MMS or YouTube uploads.

Android Froyo Camera

On a related note, Android 2.2's Gallery app gets a nifty new feature that'll let you use a zoom gesture to look inside stacks of photos.

Anything new on the enterprise front in Android 2.2?

You'd better believe it, bucko. Android 2.2 boasts auto-account-discovery and calendar sync for Exchange, as well as beefed up enterprise security features such as remote wipe for administrators, minimum password settings, and lock-screen timeout. It'll also offer global address list look-up within the E-mail application, meaning users will be able to autocomplete names from a company's directory without having to mess with their personal contact lists.

Spiffy. So when will Android 2.2 come to my phone?

Early word is that the Froyo update will hit the Nexus One within the "next few weeks." The Motorola Droid is said to be scheduled for an update soon thereafter, allegedly in June. (Bear in mind, though -- especially Droid users -- past experience tells us that these target launch dates don't always work out as planned.)

HTC has indicated that most of its 2010-launched Android devices will be in line for a Froyo fix, likely sometime in the second half of the year. From the sounds of it, even the newly released Droid Incredible and soon-to-be-released EVO 4G will be on this same schedule.

For everyone else, it's a game of wait and see -- and, if you're a true Android fanboy, maybe salivate -- for the taste of Froyo.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. He's on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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